It's said that three times is the charm. If that's true, then the third, and supposedly final, in the trilogy, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," is the best of the series.

The third "Transformers" is not only a summer blockbuster, it is a summer movie event.

If you intend to see "Transformers" in the Imax 3-D format, you might want to make a reservation.

Several of the screenings sold out opening day at an area multiplex.

"Transformers 3" is one movie you may want to see in the 3-D, or even the Imax 3-D format. It is chock-full of in-your-face special effects. The movie should please long-time fans and entertain the casual adult movie-goer.

Director Michael Bay, who directed the first two "Transformers" movies, has created the ultimate "Transformers" movie. The action by the battling Autobots and Decepticons is riveting, with heavy-metal clanks of combat by the futuristic high-tech gladiators.

The tension created for the human characters is palpable, especially in a sequence taking place in Chicago, when a skyscraper is laid seige and begins to fall. A special operation military team dives through the air on wings of extended fabric, not unlike flying squirrels, before deploying para-sails. You feel the thrill of flight, as well as the danger of battle. The scene is an homage to, and a reclaiming of, the psychological turf lost in 9/11.

"Transformers 3" is massive. Locations span the globe. The battle robots themselves seem larger, more detailed and seem to talk more. There seems to be more humor and scenes between the human characters throughout the movie, which leavens the relentless violence in the battle bot scenes.

The plot takes a page from the history of the space race. The United States and the former U.S.S.R., "Transformers 3" tells us, were in a race to the moon to recover information about an alien spacecraft that crashed on the dark side of the moon. The Autobots and Decepticons compete to learn the secret contents of what is said to be a Cybertronian spacecraft.

The screenplay by Ehren Kruger ("Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," 2009; "The Brothers Grimm," "The Ring") has enough detail to please "Transformers" fans. It may baffle many movie-goers. The movie is complex enough, and entertaining enough, that fans will probably want to see it more than once.

Fortunately, Shia LaBeouf, in the lead role of Sam Witwicky, is up to the task of providing a center for the movie. LaBeouf, with a likeable boyish charm of a young Paul Newman, is able to convey and director Bay provides him the closeup scenes an emotional conflict melded with a can-do attitude that is at the core of the appeal of the "Transformers" series.

Jokey scenes between Sam and his parents (Julie White, Kevin Dunn), romantic scenes between Sam and his new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and confrontational scenes between Sam and CIA officials and former operatives (Frances McDormand and John Turturro) provide a human connection for "Transformers" fans and non-fans alike.

Some of the "Transformers" regulars are back, including Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Epps (Tyrese Gibson.). Added to the mix are veteran movie actors: Patrick Demsey (as Dylan, Sam's nemesis), John Malkovich (as a corporate henchman) and Ken Jeong (as a computer expert), in one of his typically wacky roles.

You may want to check out "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" to see what, other than the final "Harry Potter" movie installment, is possibly this summer's biggest movie.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon," MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo; Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction; Run time: 2 hrs. 37 min.; Distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: As an example of the seriousness of the filming of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," an extra, Gabriella Cedillo, was seriously injured driving her car during a stunt shot. Rigging from a snapped cable broke her windshield and hit her head. She sustained brain damage, left-side paralysis and limited left-eye vision.

Box Office, July 1: Because of the early July 4 deadline for the Focus section, box office results were not available at press time. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," grossed $37.3 million June 29, including $8 million at the midnight debut, for the best single-day opening of the year. Including sneak peaks June 28, the $42.8-million gross for "Transformers 3" first 36 hours put it on track to hit $200 million in the United States and Canada by July 4.

Unreel, July 8:

"Zookeeper," PG: Kevin James is the zookeeper when the animals decide to give him a good talking-to in the comedy.

"Horrible Bosses," No MPAA Rating: The title says it all. The comedy stars Jason Bateman, Jennifer Anniston, Kevin Spacey and Jason Sudeikis.

"The Ward," R: John Carpenter directs Amber Heard in the psychological thriller.

"Ironclad," R: A group of Knights Templer defend a castle against tyrannical King John (Paul Giamatti) in the action-adventure movie.

Read previous movie reviews at www.tnonline.com. Email Paul Willistein at: pwillistein@tnonline.com and on Facebook.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes