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Cars that morph into building-size robots, monster robots that morph into monster trucks, toys run explosively amok: For the bot-crazed 20-something Hasbro customer-of-old, Michael Bay's latest blow-'em-up extravaganza has it all. For the bot-neutral rest of us, two-and-a-half hours of mostly incoherent special effects may be a bit much.

The story has something to do with Autobots and Decepticons battling to be the first to get to what amounts to a giant battery pack (a "cube of infinite power," someone calls it, I think) that's been held for decades by the U.S. military in — oh, never mind. Shia LaBeouf is getting a little long of tooth to be playing hormone-addled postadolescents, but he's reasonably engaging as a kid whose first car tries to help him pick up girls. (Though this is sort of Herbie territory, no?)

When the car then turns into a gentle giant of a warrior, well, suffice it to say the picture's going to make a fortune, and will doubtless spawn Sequelbots for years.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
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