The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
The series exists to show gigantic and hideous robots hammering one another. So it does. The last hour involves a battle for the universe which for some reason is held at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in Chicago. This battle is protracted mercilessly beyond all reason, at an ear-shattering sound level, with incomprehensible Autobots and Decepticons sliced up into spurts of action with no sense of the space they occupy.
There is more of a plot this time. It is a plot that cannot be described in terms of structure, more in terms of duration. When it stops, it's over. We learn that mankind's first mission to the moon was intended to investigate an alien space craft that crashed on the dark side. This ship, "the Arc," carried the robots to this solar system from their own, so that the good bots could continue their struggle for "freedom" against the bad bots. It is a bad omen when Lincoln's statue on the National Mall is decapitated.
Humans get involved. These include Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), who earlier saved the world but now has a job in a mail room, and Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), who is his sexy girlfriend because the movie requires a sexy girlfriend. There are also such characters as Mearing (Frances McDormand), a government official; Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich), Sam's anal-retentive boss; Carly's former boyfriend Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), whose classic car collection upstages every robot in the movie; the FBI manipulator Simmons (John Turturro) ; the peculiar Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong), and the expert warriors Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Epps (Tyrese Gibson). If you pause to consider for a second, not one of these characters is actually required in the conflict, which is, after all, pretty much between the bots.
Oh, but the humans are needed for us. They are required because bots have no personalities and little intrinsic interest apart from the banging noises they make. They speak in dubbed English that sounds oddly separate from the other voices in the film. And they are so many times larger than the humans that I was reminded of the scale used in "The Incredible Shrinking Man." We also need people because I, for one, will never care for Optimus Prime any more than for an engine block.