Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Posted June 27, 2014 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

1/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: action
 
Director: Michael Bay
 
MPAA Rating: PG-13
 
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor
 
Length: 165 minutes
 
Release Date: 6/27/2014
 
Studio: Paramount Pictures, Hasbro, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Tom DeSanto/Don Murphy Production Ian Bryce Productions
 
 
What We Thought

Everything blows up, but not much that matters.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Robots blow up.   Cars blow up.  Buildings blow up.  People get shot.  Things blow up.  Everything blows up.  Robots fight.  People fight.  Stuff happens.  The end.
  There comes a point where loud explosions and violence stops exciting the adrenal glands.  Maybe it’s the third explosion, maybe it’s the thirtieth.  Action is not a science, it’s an art form.  The trick is that whatever blows up has to matter.  Everything blows up in Transformers 4.  Everything.  But not much that matters.
  Or it crashes.  Or it gets crunched.  It’s all the same thing.  Look, another random car just blew up!  Whatever.
  Transformers:  Age of Extinction is mind-numbingly monotonous, and with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes, it’s much too long for a movie about robots fighting each other.  It’s exhausting—not from too much excitement, but from too much boredom.  Ironically, this stems from too much action.  Yes, there is such a thing.
  Plot summary of this movie is almost impossible.  Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), an inventor working out of his barn in rural Texas, purchases a ruined truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) himself.  After the battle in Chicago between the Transformers, the U.S. government is ruthlessly hunting down Decepticons and Autobots alike, and it’s not long before Cemetery Wind, a special Black-Ops unit of the C.I.A., tracks Optimus down to Cade’s home, putting Cade’s teenage daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) in danger.  Cade and Tessa are rescued by Shane (Jack Reynor), Tessa’s secret boyfriend.  The three travel with Optimus to meet up with the last of the Autobots, Hound (John Goodman), Crosshairs (John DiMaggio), Drift (Ken Watanabe), and Bumblebee.
  That’s what this fourth installment in the series finally gets right:  you can tell the robots apart.  Each one has a distinct look and personality.  Hell, they’re almost likable, and there aren’t too many of them, either.
However, the film loses its economy in a cast of villains that’s much too large in a plot that’s beyond convoluted.  Cemetery Wind Director Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammar) and his corporate co-conspirator Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), the head of K.S.I., a tech company developing man-made, human-controlled Transformers, ally themselves with Lockdown (Mark Ryan), an evil Transformer who imprisons aliens of all kinds.  Lockdown is an agent of “The Creators”, powerful beings who exist somewhere out there in space, to be met in the next installment of the franchise.
  See how needlessly complicated all of this is for one movie?  This series makes itself up as it goes along, ret-conning itself as needed.  Now it seems that the Transformers are made out of—get this—Transformium, and forget all that stuff about the All-Spark from the first two movies.
  Attinger and Joyce make a deal with Lockdown:  in exchange for Optimus Prime, Lockdown will give them one container of the Seed, which…oh, Hell with it.  This makes no sense.
  It’s textbook over-plotting, and I still haven’t mentioned the return of Megatron, who gets side-lined again.  He’s behind the curtain when he should be front-and-center as the film’s bad guy.  The problem here is that humanity itself is the film’s central villain.
  This movie hates people.  What the human villains do to the robots is cruel and barbaric, and Optimus, the film’s hero, renounces humanity.  It doesn’t get more misanthropic than this.  That’s problematic when the fate of mankind hangs in the balance.  In other words, what’s at stake is worthless.  What’s the point?
  It doesn’t get much better with its human good guys.  Shane is cowardly, and Cade, a robotics enthusiast, has more interest in machines than Man.  And then there’s Tessa.  Tessa is an almost completely useless, blatant damsel-in-distress who utters the line, “Help me!” during action scenes, and director Michael Bay can’t help but himself to a pervy ass-shot of the 17-year-old-girl.  Say what you will about the objectification of Megan Fox in Transformers 1 & 2, her character took charge and took action.  Tessa is similarly objectified but isn’t given the same agency.  Somehow, Bay has managed to one-up his own misogyny.
  Bay is not a subtle director.  There’s a ham-fisted moment where Cade, seeing his daughter abducted by Lockdown, falls to his knees, and pounds his fist on the ground in slow-motion.  Wahlberg is a good actor, but he cannot make this direction work at all.  It’s laugh-out-loud bad.
  Leaving Pacific Rim, another movie about giant robots, I felt joy for the hour plus ride back home.  Leaving Transformers 4, I felt drained, and could barely keep my eyes open.  An action movie should leave you excited.  It’s that simple.  When it comes to action, sometimes less is more.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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