June 21 marks the Transformers: The Last Knight release, the fifth installment in director Michael Bay's epic movie series based on the fact that, 30 years ago, somebody figured out that little boys really like robots and trucks, and would go apeshit over a truck that turned into a robot. The first four features clock in at an average length of 153 minutes—meaning it would take someone more than 10 hours to ingest them all in one sitting.
So that's what I did. In an effort to understand what happens when the too-much-ness of these individual films becomes the way-too-much-ness of the whole saga, I settled in for a day-long marathon. The results of that experiment are chronicled here.
7:20 a.m.: Beginning with 2007's Transformers, and my sanity intact.
7:21 a.m.: Peter Cullen—the voice of good-guy Autobot Optimus Prime—begins narrating the backstory about the importance of something called the Allspark. By the end of this series, I will wonder if they're running out of words for "Very Important and Dangerous Thing That Drives the Plot."
7:23 a.m.: U.S. soldier Lennox (Josh Duhamel) lets us know he "can't wait to hold my baby girl for the first time," cluing us in to the level of subtlety generally to be expected.
7:52 a.m.: Bumblebee, the car-that-is-actually-a-robot belonging to high-school nerd Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), begins communicating with Sam through song lyrics played on its radio. It's a fun idea, and like every fun idea in these movies, Bay will proceed to repeat it so many times that you plead for the sweet release of death.
7:53 a.m.: Megan Fox plays a hot girl who is also good with cars, thereby making her extra-hot, I guess.
8:07 a.m.: A Transformer in the form of a sand scorpion attacks soldiers. The images of these things can be really cool, in non-lethal doses.
8:26 a.m.: A character makes a reference to something being "100 times cooler than Armageddon," the first (but far from last) time Bay will attempt something resembling self-deprecation and still not understand that lack of "coolness" is not why people get irritated at his movies.
9:25 a.m.: The robots are still fighting in downtown Los Angeles. This climactic battle sequence has been going on for approximately 17 hours.
9:35 a.m.: "It's you and me, Megatron!" "No, it's just me, Prime!" People get paid to write these movies. Good money, I'm told.
9:47 a.m.: Beginning 2009's Revenge of the Fallen. Peter Cullen's voice is such a beautiful instrument. What a waste.
10:01 a.m.: Forget Megan Fox, the real romance in these movies is between Sam and Bumblebee. Camaros before hos?
10:30 a.m.: There are at least three different movies in these first two Transformers movies: teen sex comedy, military action and Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots monster fight.
11:01 a.m.: Attempts at comic relief—Sam's mom stoned on pot brownies, robot leg-humping, robot oil-peeing—are not this series' strong suit.
11:18 a.m.: Thank you for your service, Expositionbot.
11:53 a.m.: Run, Megan! Run in that tank top like your life depends on it!
Noon: "I am directly below the enemy's scrotum," ex-government agent John Turturro says. Aren't we all, John? Aren't we all?
12:03 p.m.: This climactic battle sequence has been going on for approximately three days.
12:28 p.m.: Beginning 2011's Dark of the Moon. The prologue explaining how the 1969 Apollo moon landing was actually related to Transformers has been going on longer than I've been alive.
12:30 p.m.: Hot Girl Who Is Megan Fox has been replaced by Hot Girl Who Is Not Megan Fox.
1:02 p.m.: It's funny when someone sees two guys in a bathroom stall together for inexplicable reasons, because gay panic is hilarious.
1:29 p.m.: An "objects in mirror are closer than they appear" gag, stolen from Jurassic Park. At least Bay steals from the best.
1:45 p.m.: I wonder if Transformers have to train to do that "tumble out of their car form into robot form" thing in Transformer school.
2:17 p.m.: The leaning-tower set piece in the middle of the Chicago grand finale is a great piece of action filmmaking. I wish Bay knew how to cut out all the crap surrounding his good material.
2:22 p.m.: In general, it feels like the role of military in these movies is to fly in, be generally ineffectual, then die except for the two guys we recognize.
2:25 p.m.: This climactic battle sequence has been going on since the Truman administration.
2:50 p.m.: Beginning 2014's Age of Extinction. Shia LaBeouf has been replaced by Mark Wahlberg, and Hot Girl Who Is Not Megan Fox has been replaced by Hot Girl Who Is Not the Hot Girl Who Is Not Megan Fox.
3:40 p.m.: Jack Reynor appears as a guy who carries around an actual laminated card saying he can sleep with a 17-year-old in the state of Texas. That's Michael Bay's little civics lesson for you.
3:54 p.m.: Transformers are apparently made out of "Transformium," which I'm guessing is on the periodic table right next to Avatar's Unobtanium.
4:26 p.m.: The formula is definitely different in this one. More damsel-in-distress-ing, no military presence, more practical-effects chases and stunt work. It's weirder than I expected, yet just as bloated.
5:10 p.m.: Dino-Transformers! Because these movies weren't already catering to enough interests of 12-year-old boys.
5:15 p.m.: This climactic battle sequence has been going on since the last actual age of extinction.
5:31 p.m.: Death no longer holds any sway over me, for I have spent 10 hours with Transformers.