TRANSFORMERS 3, Shia LaBeouf , Rosie Huntington-Whiteley

Robert Zuckerman/Paramount PIctures

The new Transformers movie is Optimus Prime-d to be Hollywood's first big, fat blockbuster of a lean box-office year. In fact the Michael Bay is so confident you'll love this newest adventure that it's hitting some IMAX theaters early. So can Shia LaBeouf redeem the franchise after that, um, less than amazing second installment? Is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley ready to fill Megan Fox's shoes?

Here's what you need to know before hitting theaters:

1. It's Got "Some of the Most Technically Challenging Sequences Ever Shot." Michael Bay says so himself. And since the man used James Cameron's crew from Avatar for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the man gets the benefit of the doubt. 

2. It's a Real, Live 3-D Movie: Conversion, schmonversion! Bay shot this baby with 3-D cameras. This is why he, Bay, cannot recommend strongly enough that you see Dark of the Moon in 3-D. (Seriously, those lower-priced 2-D tickets are totally ruining everything!)

3. It's Not Opening on Wednesday:  Nope, it's opening in just under 150 IMAX 3-D theaters on Tuesday night, just ahead of its formal release. That ought to give the movie more time to impress. Exhibitor Relations box-office analyst Jeff Bock expects Dark of the Moon to "blow up like a firecracker," and hit $185 million on the domestic front by Monday's Fourth of July holiday. 

4. It's Not Afraid to Take Onand Take Down—Chicago: Do you have any idea which major metropolis was threatened in Green Lantern? In the latest Transformers, there is no mistaking that the Autobots and Decepticons destroy the Windy City. "Chicago gave us so much latitude," Bay told the New York Times. "We had blocks and blocks we were able to shut down at a time."

And according to an early-bird review from HitFix, Bay's team made good use of the full-access pass. "It's so strange to see a city as recognizable as Chicago take this sort of beating," the site said, "and it's a reminder that many movies try to find cheap and generic solutions to their third acts."

5. It's Got a Brand-New Megan Fox! When Shia LaBeouf's love interest from the first two movies quit or got fired, critics, if not audiences, probably worried they wouldn't have the world's "worst" actress to kick around anymore. Enter Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. The Victoria's Secret model's performance in Dark of the Moon inspired London's Daily Mail to assert that Fox's sub "can't act for toffee." Awesome!

Now, that we know no Meryl Streep's gonna bog down the action, where do we get them IMAX 3-D tickets...?

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