Condemn it I must, for all the reasons that have made Bay's earlier movies money-making successes but critical failures: over long, over produced, over everything. He has built his career on overkill, but, hey, it makes money, so why not continue?
Even without 3D (which, gratefully, we still don't have) we shouldn't have to suffer the extended, noisy, dizzying, chaotic visual & auditory hyperboles coming at us until the law of diminishing effect sets in.
We hardly need an explanation of the plot which, to strip Ehren Kruger's script to its base, is nothing more than a battle of machines in an attempt to save the earth from evil invaders (Decepticons) by the good machines (Autobots) and a few muscle-bound humans - while Steve Jablonsky's ear-shattering music rumbles & blasts endlessly and Amir Mokri's cameras hover lovingly over all. Oh, and a full hour of CGI destruction of Chicago-s Loop is more than enough to prove that it can be done - digitally.
Bay's cast provides exactly what he's after: Shia LaBeouf as a nice but useless guy with friendly macho talent but little else, Rosie Huntington-Whitely as his sleep-in girlfriend (a model appearing here in her first film role, with oceans of flowing blond hair & bee-kissed lips & who intrudes each time some bumptious untalented diversion is required), John Turturro with wildly rolling eyes as an ex-government official, John Malkovich chewing up the scenery as Shia's obsessive-compulsive boss, and - still one of the best character/comic actresses of all - Frances McDormand stomping about as the prim National Intelligence director
What matters that nothing makes much sense, that disorientation is Bay's trump card, that amid the chaos with the humans raging & grunting even more than players in a tennis match, that ultimately nothing has to make sense as long as the brilliantly created special effects take dominance, until even the massive climax fails to raise the ante in excitement. Cut by half, this might've been a pretty good summer flick, but as it is, everything is big, big, BIG until who cares? It's a money-maker from the guy who eliminated all subtlety from films.
One final comment: the morphing machines provide the longest, most enticing advertisement for the merchandise that's sure to sell for months after. (Grade: C-)