By Jeff Labrecque
Updated June 27, 2014 at 09:00 PM EDT
Andrew Cooper

Critics have long given Michael Bay and his Transformers franchise the high hat—but after more than $2.7 billion in box office across the globe, the filmmaker can basically thumb his nose at the naysayers who sniff at his brand of CG rock-em, sock-em spectacle. The fourth film, Transformers: The Age of Extinction, is both a sequel and a reboot, with Mark Wahlberg coming aboard to anchor the franchise as a poor Texas inventor who accidentally salvages the remnants of Optimus Prime and gets entangled in a city-leveling war between good and bad alien ‘bots, as well as the secret government agency tasked with hunting down and eliminating the Transformers.

As EW’s film critic Chris Nashawaty writes in his review, “Sitting in the theater, watching the end credits roll on Transformers: Age of Extinction, I was certain of two things: 1. That I’d just witnessed the stupidest movie of the year; and 2. It will make a billion dollars.”


Chances are, the reviews aren’t going to affect whether you decide to see the latest Transformers, but at the very least, the choice analytical bits below make for some amusing reading.

Chris Nashawaty (Entertainment Weekly) ▼

“For the first hour, Bay’s baroque orgy of ear-shredding, eye-dazzling destruction is impressive. Then you realize there’s almost two hours left to go, and the movie becomes numbing, exhausting, and migraine-inducing. (A great missed opportunity: a scene in which one of the characters twists open a bottle of Excedrin.)”

Peter Keough (Boston Globe) ▼

“In short, the cinematic equivalent of being tied in a bag and being beaten by pipes. One thing you have to give Bay credit for: He has a knack for bringing A-list talent down to his level.”

David Edelstein (New York)

“Wahlberg does have one enormous asset: He’s not Shia LeBeouf. Also, I like seeing him in pretty much anything. Even when he’s not too sharp, he gives the movie some human credibility.”

Clarence Tsui (Hollywood Reporter) ▼

“Being the only character whose personality arc actually changes within the film, Tucci is given a wealth of opportunities to ham it up, just like John Turturro, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand have done before; his clownish antics while racing for survival in a Hong Kong tenement block are probably the highlight of the film.”

Maggie Lee (Variety)

“It’s the robots—endowed here with character-rich physicality and almost human-scaled facial features—who give the film its emotional heft. … The character most likely to be beloved by audiences, especially tykes, remains Bumblebee, whose mischievous personality brings much-needed comic relief.”

Rene Rodriguez (Miami Herald)

“To say that Age of Extinction is the best installment in the money-minting Transformers franchise is like saying the best episode of The Love Boat was the one that had Charo in it: The praise is so faint, it’s close to meaningless.”

A.O. Scott (New York Times)

“Although they may look like soulless corporate studio product, they are really examples of personal cinema, expressions of the will and imagination of their director, Michael Bay. The narrative incoherence is a feature, not a bug.”

Betsy Sharkey (Los Angeles Times)

“The filmmaker has actually built a better Transformers in Age of Extinction, one I’m sure fans of the franchise will adore. It’s still not a great movie, but it is, most definitely, full-metal Bay.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▼

“With a running time of 165 minutes—roughly the same as a double feature of Battleship Potemkin and Annie Hall—the fourth entry in the Transformers franchise is like a spoiled kid who insists on showing you every single toy he owns.”

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (AV Club)

“Bay’s flashy, amped-up style packs movies with off-kilter compositions, gonzo effects shots, and bursts of super-saturated color; it stimulates, often at the expense of consistency or coherence. With Transformers: Age Of Extinction, however, Bay seems to have exhausted himself.”

Richard Corliss (TIME) ▼

“The final half-hour devolves into a kind of Abstract Expressionist chaos, with commercials. Nothing coheres. Movies usually try to come together at the end; this one falls apart. If that’s Bay’s intention, then cinema has finally entered its Age of Extinction.”

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 31

Rotten Tomatoes: 20 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 157 minutes

Director: Michael Bay

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer

Distributor: Paramount