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Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Stars:  Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci

The challenge for this latest film in the Transformers series is not how it will do at the box office, it no doubt will draw big numbers with a release date a week prior to the July Fourth holiday. No, the stumbling block is that the franchise seems to be running out of ideas. People want mayhem, and absent a tight storyline, or superb acting, or three-dimensional characters — and this film lacks all three — the alien skirmishes had better blow your wig back. That’s not to say it’s totally devoid of charm; the 3-D effects are brilliant and there is a new human cast and quite a few new robots, too. But even action films need dialogue that makes sense and is not repetitive. (Did anybody watch the dailies?)

Still, audiences probably will enjoy watching mechanic Cade Yeager (a very fit Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz) try to figure out how to evade a G-man, the Autobots and the Decepticons after Cade discovers something that brings him some unwanted attention.

The franchise is not extinct (yet), but let’s hope director Michael Bay gets better material to work with for the next film. And there will be a next one. –p.d. lee