'Transformers' sequel goes on, with new gal

The "Tranformers" franchise goes forth today without poor Megan Fox, who was fired for comparing director Michael Bay to Hitler.

The story of Fox's dismissal makes a certain amount of sense, since there's no chance you can be fired from the set of "Transformers" for being a bad actor.

So it must have been something she said.

Like linking Bay to Hitler.

Where would she get such a crazy idea?

It's not like Bay is obsessed with Wagnerian stories about mechanized blitzkrieg assaults, world domination, or an arrogant and militant race embarked on a war of extermination.

How could you call that dude a Nazi?

In any event, Bay has a sense of humor about it. He's replaced Fox with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (yes, her name is Whiteley), a 9-foot blonde who drives around in a silver, gull-winged Mercedes, like something out of a Leni Riefenstahl documentary.

In "Transformers 3" she is the new love interest of Shia LaBeouf, who must be envious of Fox, because he was NOT fired from "T3," and now must appear in another 157-minute movie in which he has imaginary conversations with a Chevrolet.

"T3" finds Sam (LaBeouf), his new girlfriend and his band of good transformers fighting a new infestation of bad transformers, who have a plan to enslave humanity and use Earth's resources to reconstitute their defunct planet.

New characters include another superpowerful transformer (voiced by Leonard Nimoy, leading to some "Trek" references) and Patrick Dempsey as a rich guy who serves as a romantic rival to Sam.

The injection of Dempsey is at least an attempt to tell some semblance of a human story.

Still, it all comes down to robots fighting. This is where the "Transformers" movies lose me. The first half of "T1" was based on an excellent idea - that there really is something transformative about a Camaro. It can help a guy like Sam Witwicky get a girl who looks like Fox.

And with Sam behind the wheel of his versatile car, "Transformers" seems on the verge of becoming a pop version of David Cronenberg's "Crash," suggesting that our humanity is not so easy to separate from our technology.

But the transformers are not us, not of this earth. And at some point "Transformers" movies stop being about Sam, and start being a screeching, pulverizing, interminable smackdown among machines.

They have names, but they're not really characters. It's like someone trying to convince me my washer doesn't like my dryer, and that I should be emotionally involved.

And Bay really needs an editor. For length and for tact. There are subjects/images he really doesn't need to go near in a "Transformers" movie, and one of them is the Challenger explosion.

When "T3" was at long last over, a teenager I know asked me what I thought.

Who is capable of thought after a 3-D, surround-sound, 2 1/2-hour Michael Bay robot fight?

Our young people, apparently.

And with apologies to Optimus Prime, this is what leaves me with hope for humanity's future.

Transformers 3

Directed by Michael Bay. With Patrick Dempsey, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Ken Jeong, Tyrese Gibson, Peter Cullen, John Malkovich, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel. Distributed by Paramount Studios.

Parent's guide: Unrated ().