"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is such a big movie that it actually starts with the extinction of the dinosaurs. After that, things jump ahead to our near-future, a time period where Mark Wahlberg is an inventor and Stanley Tucci subsists on chewing scenery (he's a Tuccisaurus). There are also giant robots that turn into cars, giant robots that turn into dinosaurs and a giant robot voiced by John Goodman, who has a rotund robot belly and metal beard. If you think we've found a "Transformers" movie based on those previous sentences, you're right. Ahead, the four most effective parts of Michael Bay's fourth "Transformers" film (which, much to our chagrin, isn't called "Trans4mers").
The First Act Is Like "Friday Night Lights" With Robots
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is a soft reboot of Bay's "Transformers" trilogy. That means while it takes place in the world created during those first three films, none of the human characters from the previous movies make an appearance. Which is another way of writing that Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky is but a distant memory in "Age of Extinction," replaced by Wahlberg's Cade Yeager (yes), his daughter (Nicola Peltz) and her race-car driving boyfriend (Jack Reynor). The trio lives in Paris, Texas, where Wahlberg is a failed inventor and his daughter is just about to graduate high school (her boyfriend is kept secret from Cade because of course he is). As you've likely seen from the film's omnipresent marketing campaign, Yeager finds a Transformer, and it just so happens to be Optimus Prime. (In "Age of Extinction," the U.S. government is hunting down all Transformers, even the Autobots, at the behest of National Security and an intergalactic bounty hunter named Lockdown.) Anyway, this is all stuff that happens in the first act of "Age of Extinction," and it's really ... pretty great? Bay is like a modern-day Norman Rockwell when it comes to presenting images of Americana, and the director goes all in on that skill-set in "Trans4mers." There are more America flags, idyllic sunsets and corn fields in the film's first 30 minutes than in all other 2014 releases put together. Couple that with Steve Jablonsky's Explosions in the Sky-y score, and "Age of Extinction" often looks like rejected footage from "Friday Night Lights" (clear eyes, full hearts, big robots). If only that was the whole movie! After we leave Texas, there are still literally two hours left in the film's running time.
Mark Wahlberg Seems To Be Having A Lot Of Fun
With his bemused innocence and tough-guy dad schtick honed to a fine eyebrow raise, it's kind of amazing that Mark Wahlberg has never appeared in a "Transformers" movie. He makes up for that here in buckets. Wahlberg is having a blast in this movie, whether berating Reynor's boyfriend character or firing a giant robot machine gun that he just so happens to know how to operate. If "Pain and Gain" was peak Wahlberg, consider "Age of Extinction" his subpeak.
There Are Commercial Breaks
When a movie is as long as "Transformers: Age of Extinction," it helps when there are breaks in the spectacle of insanity for the audience to catch its breath. Usually that occurs with a dialogue scene, but Bay eschews that concept, instead resorting to hilarious product placement. For instance, at one point, Tucci's character -- a corporate inventor with nefarious motives -- turns a metal that he calls "Transformium" (true) into a Beats Pill Bluetooth speaker and holds it up to the camera. Later, after an alien ship crash lands into a Bud Light truck, Cade picks up a bottle of the alcoholic beverage and takes a big swig. Only in America / "Transformers."
It's Not 166 Minutes Long
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is 165 minutes of sensory assaulting mayhem. Bright side! At least it's not one minute longer.