MEGAN Fox may have departed the Transformers franchise but director Michael Bay and the remaining cast return for an explosive third chapter, which is the first of the series to be screened in 3D and IMAX 3D.
Like its predecessors, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is a ridiculously entertaining thrill-ride that jettisons script, dialogue and characterisation to deliver 154 minutes of testosterone-fuelled carnage.
The flimsy plot opens in the early 1960s when a Cybertronian spacecraft crash-lands on the Moon, sparking a race between the Americans and the Russians to reach the satellite.
During a TV blackout, the crew of Apollo 11 retrieves an important Autobot artefact and returns it to Earth, unaware that more than 40 years later, the device will spark a titanic war with the Decepticons.
As usual, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is caught in the eye of the storm, joined by his pretty girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).
While Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen), Bumblebee and the other Autobots protect the humans, field commanders Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson) spearhead the final stand against the Decepticons, comprising Megatron (Hugo Weaving) and his menagerie of terrifying predators.
Once you accept that Transformers: Dark Of The Moon junks logic and the laws of physics at every turn, it’s a high-octane hoot.
Aside from James Cameron, there isn’t a better director of all-guns-blazing action than Bay.
He orchestrates some truly jaw-dropping sequences here including an explosive highway pursuit and a breathtaking escape from a toppling skyscraper.
Bay also embraces the 3D format with gusto, not least when stuntmen in wing-suits sky-dive through Chicago and we get a thrilling sense of height and speed as they swoop between buildings with dizzying precision.
LaBeouf wisecracks opposite an impressive supporting cast including Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, while John Turturro reprises his role as conspiracy theorist Simmons.
Huntington-Whiteley is a worthy successor to Megan Fox, who was introduced in the first film bent over a steaming car engine, exposing her toned midriff.
Here, the leading lady is also sexually objectified, making her entrance with a close-up of her pert buttocks nestled in a pair of cotton panties as she ascends a staircase.
Like Fox, Huntington-Whiteley possesses that rare ability to maintain perfect hair and lip-gloss in the midst of robot Armageddon.
Screenwriter Ehren Kruger tries to justify her character’s existence by having Carly try to tip the balance of power in favour of the Autobots in the final act but in truth, she is window dressing.
Digital effects are flawless including a new burrowing, worm-like Decepticon called Shockwave, which scythes through buildings like a hot knife going through butter.
Any excuse to raze an entire city.
By Damon Smith.
Released: June 29 (UK & Ireland) (12A, 154 mins)
SWEARING, NO SEX, VIOLENCE, RATING: 7/10