As I sit down to write this, minutes after arriving home from a preview of Transformers: Age of Extinction, I already have four Advils and a Valium in my system, hoping for relief from my pounding headache and jangled nerves. The fourth film in the series of box office hits and critical failures should continue on the same merry path its followed since the 2007 original.
The formula includes A) cars, trucks, giant robots (that can transform into fancy sport cars and beat-up old trucks), and people flying through the air ... no, falling through the air; B) the foibles of mankinds attempt to exist with those giant robots the good ones are Autobots, the bad ones are Decepticons who are visiting from the planet Cybertron and wreaking havoc upon us and each other; and C) we poor little human folk working with them and/or going up against them.
These are big, loud, flashy movies that feature an almost equal amount of slam-bang action, confusing plot points, and propulsive drums on the soundtrack (ahh, so THATS the source of the headache and nerve problem).
As mindless and over-acted as this one gets, it also offers up a bit of scientific theory: The dinosaurs didnt vanish all those millennia ago because of a meteorite; they went extinct when the Creators from Cybertron first came here and unleashed some seeds or, in plain English, some big-ass bombs that wiped out everything that was breathing.
Well, thats the lesson that opens this film. But were not allowed to think about it because before you can say Check out the Bud Light product placement were introduced to single dad and almost broke inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) who ekes out a living and dodges rent and utility bills on a farm with his hot teen daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). One of about 10 dozen side stories involves his initially comical over-protectiveness of Tessa, but its a gag that loses steam quickly then just keeps going.
Cade buys a beat-up old truck, pulls a bullet out of it, watches it come alive and transform into Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen), makes sure Tessa isnt dating anyone Oops! Shes secretly dating Irish race car driver Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor), who is (gasp!) three years older than her then finds out the hard way that government officials are hunting down Optimus Prime and are eager to kill anyone who gets in their way.
Seems a CIA guy (Kelsey Grammer) and a hot-tempered industrialist (Stanley Tucci) are in cahoots on a plan to build their own Transformers since the discovery of the new element Transformium. Oh, please, they dont really care about any army. They just want all the money they can get for making an army happen. At its root, this is a film about capitalism gone way out of control.
Or maybe its about keeping order in the universe. Yes, that must be it because bad guy Decepticon Lockdown (voice of Mark Ryan) is also after good guy Autobot Optimus Prime because he and his band of Autobots have been helping the dastardly humans when they should have been killing them and taking over the planet, because there are some people who consider all Transformers, good and bad, to be alien killing machines ... or something like that.
Here, this line of dialogue, spoken by the villainous CIA man to our inventor hero, after our hero has been taken captive, might sort things out: You have no idea what youre involved with here. Yeah, hes got that right, but I felt the line was spoken directly to me, not to Mark Wahlberg.
Im going to give the film some props, in that its a visual effects extravaganza in which both Chicago and Hong Kong take absolute shellackings due to massive amounts of gunfire and explosions and big robots beating the tar out of each other as they crash into buildings. And that all happens before the Decepticons unleash some big, red-eyed robot wolves, and the Autobots get back-up help from some big, snarling Legendary Warriors.
You want just over two and a half hours of rampant devastation? This movies for you. You want a story that makes sense? This movies not for you. This movie was not for me, but one specific part of it did earn my fascination. After being captured by robots, thrown from moving vehicles, attacked by those wolves, and generally tossed around like a rag doll, the teen daughters blue nail polish didnt even have a chip.

Written by Ehren Kruger; directed by Michael Bay
With Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor
Rated PG-13

Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.