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Review Roundup: Watching Transformers: Age of Extinction Is Physically Grueling

If you plan to see Transformers: Age of Extinction this weekend, we suggest you stock up on Excedrin. Vulture's David Edelstein writes, "Bay doesn’t know when he should stop flexing; he directs like a steroid-addled meathead. He gives us hammy, low-angle shots of nearly every character, and he doesn’t care about connecting those amazing frames. Nearly every cut feels like a jump cut." And according to other critics, watching Michael Bay’s newest franchise installment is a full-body experience — and a painful one. After sitting through a whopping 165 minutes of Autobots and Dinobots and Decepticons bludgeoning one another, America's critics felt like they had practically fought the battle themselves, complaining of exhaustion, migraines, earaches, numbness, and generally expressing the need for a long lay-down. As the Boston Globe's Peter Keough put it, Transformers 4 is the “cinematic equivalent of being tied in a bag and being beaten by pipes.”

“Hello, police? I’d like to report an assault. Where? Down at the MegaGigaGrandePlex, and it’s still going on. Come quick! I barely escaped with my life. The perp? Michael Bay. He gave me a full-body beatdown.” Soren Andersen, The Seattle Times

“Everything about Michael Bay’s fourth Transformers movie is too much. Its 165 minute running time. Its convoluted plot. Its deafening score. Its product placement. Its never-ending action scenes. Its swooping camera work. Its overwhelming stupidity. Well before it finished I was numb from its bludgeoning excess.” Dave McGinn, The Globe and Mail

“Early in the first hour of the mind-numbing hammer to the senses that is the fourth Transformers movie, the old-timey operator of a shuttered movie theater in Texas says nobody wants to come to a specialty movie house any more because it’s all about sequels and remakes these days.” Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

“By the time the heroes are fleeing from dinosaur robots while an enormous spaceship is dropping an oceanliner on their heads and a tidal wave is bearing down, Transformers: Age of Extinction, which runs close to three hours, has sailed far past the point of overkill into sheer exhaustion.” Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

“Do you ever think to yourself, gee, I wish someone would beat on my skull with a hammer today? If so, you're in luck. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” will be in theaters everywhere starting Thursday night. As self-destructive cinematic experiences go, it can't be beat.” Tom Long, The Detroit News

“There is so much going on here that it's sort of exhausting, but that's a feature of these films at this point.” Drew McWeeny, HitFix

“In fact, the action scenes, as in the previous films, are downright headache-inducing.” Joe Neumaier, Daily News

“At the 2hr 15 min mark, when any movie like this should already be over, we meet the fan-favorite Dinobots. Yes, robotic dinosaurs, one of which is ridden into battle by Optimus Prime. You may applaud, if you are still awake.” Jordan Hoffman, Film.com

“The lack of any sort of emotional resonance (not even anger over terrible jokes) eventually leaves you numb as you are rocked by ever-increasing explosions.” Joshua Starnes, Coming Soon

Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth film in an apparently inexhaustible, profoundly exhausting series based on Hasbro toys, raises, not for the first time, a basic question: Who are these movies for?” A.O. Scott, New York Times

“The movie begins in prehistoric times before bringing us to a modern-day reality, and the unfolding of all those eons feels like it’s happening in real time. The movie clocks in at an astonishing 2 hours 45 minutes.” Stephanie Merry, Washington Post

“Then it's chase, chase, conspiracy, explosion, twist, deathtrap, capture, escape, ka-blam, ka-blowie. While Age of Extinction offers up any number of potentially thrilling moments — from our human leads flying through the air during a Fast and Furious-esque highway chase to the sight of Optimus Prime on the back on a robot dinosaur – the film suffers from the usual migraine-inducing editing (looking at you, Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, and Paul Rubell, even if you were just following orders) that renders all of Bay's cinematic output so singularly unwatchable.” Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

“Belying its ominous title, Age of Extinction barely skirts the idea that humankind and planet Earth are about to be totally annihilated. What is extinguished is the audience's consciousness after being bombarded for nearly three hours with overwrought emotions ('There's a missile in the living room!' Tessa hollers — twice), bad one-liners and battles that rarely rise above the banal.” Clarence Tsui, The Hollywood Reporter

“Sorry, just kidding. Just bracing myself for 165 minutes of explosions, car chases, cars turning into robots, images of cars, robots, and tiny human figures spinning in slow motion after an explosion or a car chase, ludicrous bathos, tight shots looking up Nicola Peltz’s tiny shorts, stentorian sound effects, cheap Wagnerian music, all shot and edited as if by a Cuisinart. In short, the cinematic equivalent of being tied in a bag and being beaten by pipes.” Peter Keough, Boston Globe

“Oh so you know this is terrible, and yet you’re still pummeling us with incomprehensible action sequence after incomprehensible action sequence until our eyes and ears are bleeding? Thanks a lot.” Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“The obvious question: is it too much for its own good? Bay is very talented at all things visual, the 3-D works well and the robots look great. But the final confrontation alone lasts close to an hour, and at some point, you may find yourself simply in a daze, unable to absorb any further action into your brain. But one viewer's migraine is another's euphoria. You decide.” Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press

Photo: Paramount Pictures