Transformers: Age of Extinction

Prior to the inevitable 90 minutes of special-effects set pieces, this fourth installment in the Transformers franchise might represent Michael Bay’s most mature filmmaking to date. The editing, far less frantic than usual, maintains a sense of spatial coherence unprecedented in his work, and Mark Wahlberg, the most focused and modest leading man of his generation, brings a much-needed human dimension to the grandstanding visuals. Even during the digitized mayhem, Bay demonstrates greater appreciation for real locations than almost any director in the Marvel Studios stable; much of the fun here comes from seeing how the filmmakers use places as varied as Monument Valley, a Beijing apartment complex, and Chicago’s Uptown Theatre. In the end, though, this is still a movie about giant robots fighting each other, which is to say it’s nearly impossible to take seriously on a narrative level. With Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer.