Transformers 4 Is the Loudest Marketing Machine Ever Made

More alien robot battles, and product placement, fill this new installment.

I went into this thing with an open mind. More than that, actually. I’d seen the trailers, and my inner-11-year-old was involuntarily seized by a burst of pleasure to see that Transformers: Age of Extinction would feature not only dinosaurs and robots, but also dinosaur robots.

Unfortunately it’s more than two hours (of the excruciatingly unnecessary two-hour-45-minute runtime) before the dino-bots roar to life, and by then my senses had been beaten to the point of numbness by director Michael Bay’s nonstop torrent of car chases, exploding machinery, urban warfare, and a noticeably attractive young woman with a knack for posing artfully in front of waving American flags. Everyone looks cool in this movie. Even while running for their lives, they find the time to grab a new set of well-tailored casual clothing. I’d like to hire Bay to follow me around with a film crew, using his favorite technique of shooting up from a low angle to communicate to the world what a strong and imposing figure I am.

Anyway, you maybe want to know more about the movie, which is based on action figures I played with as a kid. I haven’t see any of the three previous entries in this series, but I gather from what little exposition there is that in the last film some major stuff went down between the good-guy alien robots and the bad-guy alien robots on the streets of Chicago. This time around the human star is Mark Wahlberg instead of Shia LeBoeuf, but there still ends up being a fight on the streets of Chicago. There’s also an alien-robot bounty hunter seeking the leader of the good-guy robots, Optimus Prime (who speaks with the voice of a Saturday morning cartoon character). And Kelsey Grammer plays a sort of Dick Cheney stand-in, striking a deal with the robot bounty hunter so that America will have exclusive rights to its own robot army.

Really the most fun part was laughing at the shamelessness of the brazen product placement. The close-ups of bottles of Bud Light strewn across a street in the midst of a robot street fight were nice, but my favorite moment was when Wahlberg’s onscreen daughter, Nicola Peltz, cowers beside an SUV several times for no good reason, being sure not to block the camera’s view of the Cadillac symbol behind her. She’s a gifted performer.