Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Dark of the Moon premiered this week at the Moscow Film Festival, and the first reviews have begun to appear online. What did people think of the film? Was it better than Revenge of the Fallen? Does it surpass the first film? Is this the first live-action film worth seeing in 3D since Avatar? I’ve compiled links to the first wave of reviews, and printed excerpts after the jump.

Harry Knowles on AICN: “TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is simply the best film of the franchise – by a great deal.” …. “this film is astonishing to watch in 3D.   Easily the best 3D since AVATAR – and in many respects I think it is superior.” … “Personally, I’m looking forward to checking out the 3D again – that last hour is just jaw-dropping.” … “After I saw the film, my brain felt tired.   Not from great thoughts, but from the experience of the film.   It wore my brain out watching it.   I found myself thinking about the set-ups Bay made to physically make this movie.   The sheer volume of wow shots is spectacular. ” … “The action in this film is truly amazing work.   Bay’s talent for designing these shots is nothing short of amazing to watch.   The physical look of everything is amazing.   That I really kinda loved Shia’s Sam in this film”

IGN: “it’s certainly the best one in this hugely successful, but widely loathed franchise.” … “Transformers: Dark of the Moon definitely has more of a plot than either of its predecessors. There are genuine stakes this time, and it’s the first Transformers film where you actually get some sense of physical or emotional consequence to the events that transpire. Mostly the film works because of its kick-ass 3D action scenes.” …  “Bay’s action scenes here are bigger, better and more brutal than any in the first two films, even though it’s still tough at times to tell the robots apart in battle. That said, the ‘bots have far more distinct personalities than in the past movies. When a ‘bot dies here, you feel it unlike when Jazz bought it in the first film.” … “Its last hour is the full-on human vs. robot war film that the Terminator series has always promised but never delivered. Transformers: Dark of the Moon may not be a great film, but it is largely great fun.”

MovieWeb: “Visually Transformers 3 is an amazing success and as with all Michael Bay films leaves the audience with the jaws dropped open by the amazing visuals and SFX. From the spaceships, to the outstanding explosions to the spectacular battle sequences are the most finest effects ever seen in an pure hardcore action flick. But the most outstanding final sequence of the destruction of chicago brilliant in its destruction that its just sheer beauty like watching the sun rise, then entering the destruction of the world, and the destruction just gets more climatic. Overall Transformers 3 is as fine and beautiful as a spectacle as it comes and it sets down and destroys the majority of the Summer blockbusters setting the limits down and making it near impossible for any other film to step in the ring with it.” … “THIS IS NOT A CINEMA OR THEATRE MOVIE….ITS AN IMAX 3D MOVIE.”

HitFix: “For the first time since “Avatar,” I am going to recommend that you find the biggest and best 3D theater you can find and buy yourself a ticket, because “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon,” especially seen in IMAX 3D, is an overwhelming sensory experience.  The sound mix alone is more exciting than anything in the billion-dollar-bore of “Pirates 4.”  This is gigantic action we’ve never seen before, and Bay’s reaction to shooting and cutting his film for 3D is to get better at what he does.  It raised his game, and as a result, I feel like we just saw a dare thrown down by one of Hollywood’s biggest action specialists:  “Top this.” … “”Transformers: Dark Of The Moon” is easily the best film in the series, and there’s a solid hour-long action sequence in Chicago that uses everything Bay’s ever done before, but all blended into one exhausting push to save one girl in the midst of a war involving two planets.  It’s the personal story on an apocalyptic scale that Bay loves to try to tell, and that other guys like Emmerich and Cameron and even Spielberg love to do.  And this is the best version of it that Bay’s made so far.”

Jeff Wells reprints a friends review: “The last 40-plus minutes of Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon amount to “the mother of all battle sequences. It’s truly a Battle Royale. Nonstop mayhem battle….and your mouth is open that he did this. It’s really noticably epic…a big selling point. Except it’s a Transformers movie, you know, and it’s 2 and 1/2 hours or maybe even a bit longer. They had told me it was 2 hours and 20 minutes when I walked in but I don’t know [about that].”

Total Film Magazine: “Transformers 3 might struggle to equal the sheer exhilaration of Bay’s 2007 trilogy-starter, but it’s a whole lot more coherent and fulfilling than Revenge Of The Fallen. Yes, it’s punishingly long – the longest so far, in fact – and comes saddled with some excruciating attempts at comedy.” … “British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is awful – awful! – as LaBeouf’s new love interest, sucking the life out of every scene she appears in like some pneumatic Dyson sexbot.” … “A largely linear plot and some ingenious appropriation of 20th century history helps T3 correct most of T2’s deficiencies without really matching T1’s superior entertainment value and element of surprise.”

The Mirror: “blockbusting director Michael Bay has delivered a high-octane bit of fantasy action-adventure that will have ­Transformers’ fans relishing the film’s vivid 3D entertainment.” …  “a fantastic feast of all-action entertainment… the first big ­summer blockbuster is one worth catching.” … “With a story that’s not as messy and muddled as the last film, Bay manages to bring a darker and more dangerous tone to the plot. And when the ­action kicks off – and boy does it look great on 3D – the film offers up a veritable feast of special effects mayhem.

Digital Spy: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon is like some furious adolescent fantasy, all super-awesome fighting robots, stacked army grunts, fast cars and hot babes.” … “this blockbuster is riddled with all the problems of its predecessor and then some.” … “if only Bay had an ounce of Lars von Trier’s instincts for character and story, then all this wouldn’t be such a bloated, two-and-a-half-hour waste.” … “Bay’s extreme 3D compositions at least makes the format a worthwhile bolt-on to the franchise, but with the constant LOUD NOISES, anaemic storytelling, non-existent emotional resonance and cringingly bad comedy, this expensive sound-and-light show is a bit like slamming your head repeatedly against an arcade pinball machine for 150 minutes.”

Kevin McCarthy: “just landed in New York (my favorite city on earth) – working on my “Transformers 3″ review – and yes, it’s WAY BETTER than the 2nd one!” … “it’s finally a movie that is worth seeing in 3D – it’s not as good as the first one but way better than 2nd – really liked it” … “but the action in this one is some of the best I’ve ever seen – there’s an hour long action sequence!”

HopeLies: “Michael Bay has surpassed himself. That is to say that he has reached a new low. Clunky, tactless and downright unethical, Transformers; Dark Of The Moon might just be the worst film thus far made during the lifetime of Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second.” … “The biggest problem with Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is that its essentially the same film as the two that preceded it, and, in-spite of claiming otherwise, Michael Bay appears to have learnt nothing from the criticism that both of those films, especially the second one, received. While the plot is pretty much a beat-for-beat-on-a-bigger-scale redux of The Revenge Of The Fallen, some of that film’s other issues, notably its portrayal of race and its questionable sense of humour also transfer over. In spite of Bay’s claims otherwise, the “dorky humour” of The Revenge Of The Fallen returns, with the directors assertion that we’d seen the back of Witwicky’s dreaded parents, perhaps the ultimate comedy vacuum of the 21st Century cinema, not ringing true (if anything they actually seem to feature in this film more than prominently than the previous one).”

Capone’s previous AICN review from an unfinished test screening: “I’m genuinely surprised what a strong effort this film is, not just in terms of its scope, but also in its pacing, performances, and ideas. This one dares to go dark from time to time, and that helped me find the often-lacking component of many Bay films: emotion. You probably won’t shed any tears watching DARK OF THE MOON, but you will care when certain lives are lost or in peril. This one might actually rock you a little to your foundation; get excited about that.” … “TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON begins with a great concept and a cool backstory.” … “…in the final hour of this TRANSFORMERS chapter that I simply forgot to breathe; there isn’t a spare second to do so. For a solid hour, Bay and his CGI-created robot buddies decimate Chicago. And I won’t lie: seeing it so realistically and utterly leveled was almost more than I could handle.”

And finally, Michael Bay’s website Shoot For The Edit has posted the listing of quotes submitted to the studio by critics (some of them, notable “quotewhores”) who enjoyed the film:

  • Scott Mantz – Access Hollywood: “The best 3D since Avatar.”
  • Mike Wilber – NBC: “The best Transformers ever!” … “Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the summer movie to beat!”
  • Teddy Wilson – Host, InnerSPACE: “Blockbusters don’t get any bigger than this!
  • Danielle McGimsie – Etalk CTV: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon defies gravity.”
  • Bill Zwecker – FOX-TV or FOX Chicago News or (FOX-TV Chicago) :  “The absolutely best Transformers yet! Bigger, better, best! Terrific storytelling and non-stop action from start to finish! This is the movie event of the summer!” …. “This is why we go to 3D films!”
  • Kevin McCarthy – FOX-TV Washington DC or CBS Radio: “Finally, a 3D experience that will blow your mind. Best 3D since Avatar.”
  • Sandie Newton – CBS Dallas: “Absolutely mind blowing! ?This is what going to the movies is all about!”
  • Nancy Jay – Daybreak USA (Syndicated Radio): “Dark of the Moon delivers. It’s bigger, better, badder. This is the one you’ve been waiting for.”
  • Lisa Fuller-Magee – KTVK Phoenix: “See it in 3D! It’ll transform your summer.”
  • Jake Hamilton – FOX-TV: “The perfect summer movie. This is what going to the movies is all about. They’ve saved the best for last. You’ll be left in awe.” … “One of the most incredible things your eyes will ever see. You won’t breathe. You won’t blink. You’ll just be blown away.”
  • Kim Holcomb – KING-TV NBC Seattle: “The best Transformers movie, by far.” … “This is why 3D exists.”
  • Shireen Sandoval – FOX News, Miami: “Visually stunning.” … “Summer fun at its finest.”
  • Lee Thomas – FOX 2 Detroit: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the most action packed adventure of this summer…crisp transformations. Clean fun.” … “They’ve reinvigorated the franchise.” … “The must see summer film.”
  • Kelli Gillespie – XETV CW6 – San Diego: “Best Transformers film yet!” … “Action-packed. “ … “Heart-pounding.” … “The most fun you’ll have at the movies this summer.” … “This is what a summer movie is meant to be! Go see Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
  • Chris Parente – FOX KDVR 31 or CW 2: “A heart stopping, eye popping masterpiece.”
  • Rusty Gatenby – ABC TV Minneapolis: “Biggest action movie of the summer? How about biggest action movie EVER!” … “You’ll need the BIG bucket of popcorn for this one!” … “Not just the best Transformers movie, the best summer movie in years!”
  • Chris Van Vliet – WOIO, Cleveland: “Buckle up for the action thrill ride of the summer!” … “The biggest movie of the summer.”
  • Rachel Smith – FOX 5, Vegas: “By far the best of the three!” … “The hottest cast of summer” … “2 hours of pure fun” … “The most action packed film of summer”
  • Shawn Edwards – FOX-TV : “The summer blockbuster has been transformed forever!” … “Phenomenal! The most exciting movie of the year. ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ is total awesomeness. It’s a bigger and better experience. You’ll be blown away.” … “This is the 3D experience you have been waiting for! It’s amazing. The 3D is like nothing you have ever seen before. You just won’t see the movie. You’ll actually feel like you are in the movie.” … RATING: “* * * *”
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