NEW YORK — The "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" red carpet in Times Square on Tuesday evening was packed with fans, stars and possibly a few Autobots eager to see the third installment of Michael Bay's explosive franchise. Theaters across the country were similarly swarming during evening screenings on opening night, with the alien robot flick nabbing $13.5 million in pre-midnight and midnight screenings, according to Deadline.com.
And though the atmosphere in front of the screening that MTV News attended was excited, several in the crowd were cautious about their hopes for the flick. "I've actually had lower expectations since the second one," Joseph Dornoff told us before he walked in. "So, I'm not expecting anything from it."
His friend, Patrick Farace, who has been anxiously waiting to see the third film since he heard of its release, also shared his hope to see "a better plot than the last one, amazing action. I'm excited to see Shockwave — he's the new villain." Judging by the reaction in the audience, "Dark of the Moon" surpassed many people's expectations. Fans clapped, cheered and possibly even shed a tear as the Autobots battled the evil Decepticons in their quest to bring home planet Cybertron to Earth. Although the third film featured the same basic good vs. evil fight peppered with romance as the first two, everything seemed to be bigger in this one.
The battles between Megatron, Sentinel Prime, Bumblebee and Optimus Prime were the clear fan favorite.
"[It's great] when Optimus comes by and just starts ripping everybody apart," said Wesley Arocho after the movie was done. "This action is made even more exciting by the fact that for the first time, audiences got to view it in 3-D."
"The 3-D was great. All the special effects were great," Carlos Barrozi added.
"It was better than past movies. It didn't hurt your eyes. You were able to watch it without wanting to take your glasses off," said Briana Brink-Rivera. Two friends, Mustafa Ahmed and Munawar Ali Mohd, even went so far as to say seeing the epic Chicago action in 3-D was "a dream come true."
Even Sam Witwicky's (Shia LaBeouf) love life seemed to be hotter in the third film. When asked which of Sam's love interests they preferred, newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or former franchise hottie Megan Fox, brothers Brandon and Bryce McCright responded simultaneously, "Rosie!"
If the response on opening night is any indication, Bay and company can rest assured that they've redeemed themselves after "Revenge of the Fallen." Now, the only question that remains is: Can we expect a fourth?