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Transformers: Age Of Extinction – film review

July 1, 2014

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

166 minutes of busy, loud, ugly and mean doesn’t make for much fun.

Reviewed on Thursday 26th June 2014

lockdown_in_transformers_4_age_of_extinction

Directed by Michael Bay. Written by Ehren Kruger. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles and T.J. Miller. Running time: 166 mins.

I know it goes without saying, but it really is a waste of time reviewing these Transformers films – as any negativity will be ignored by the fans and those who count themsleves as haters will steer clear of them anyway – so what’s the point? Well, I did suffer through this awful crap – so I figure I may as well get something useful out of it by posting a review.

(And no, I didn’t go into this with any preconceived idea of hating on it – I went in completely neutral. So please, all you Transformers fans out there – don’t swamp     me with a barrage of hate mail okay?)

This, the longest film of the franchise so far (yes there is a fifth installment in the works) – is absolutely the least fun I’ve had at the cinema in many a year. In fact, sitting through this is akin to being skull-fucked and gang-banged to death by a showroom full of hostile home appliances – only to be dumped out on the sidewalk; dazed, tired, angry and confused. Contrary to popular belief; four-quadrant summer fantasy films don’t necessarily have to be full-blown visual and auditory assaults or incoherent and riddled with plot holes and inconsistencies in order to be entertaining and make billions at the box office (but yeah, okay, so it doesn’t hurt). But I’m sure there have been plenty of blockbusters which have made billions which haven’t been nearly as stupefyingly moronic as Bay’s Transformers films. The Harry Potter series, perhaps – or Star Wars? So for Transformers apologists to use the box office figures as proof of these films being successful BECAUSE they are aggressively stupid doesn’t really hold water – and this latest addition to the series has a plot which is     so nonsensical and pointless – I can’t even bring myself to care enough to attempt to even synopsize it. I mean – fuck – if the filmmakers can’t even be bothered making any of it matter – then why should I be expected to put in the effort to describe it? Screenwriter Ehren Kruger has done some great work in the past – things like Arlington Road and The Ring. But with Transformers: Rise Of The Fallen, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon and this latest script – surely Kruger is aware     he’s just slumming it for Michael Bay?

Bay is clearly a person who takes himself soooo seriously – his films always come across as turgid exercises in self-admiration. When he does attempt to inject humor – it usually manifests as puerile and flat (it’s almost as if he’s a sociopath with no actual sense of humor of his own; attempting to mimic other people’s – and failing dismally). And the collateral damage! My God! So many innocent bystanders are killed – being inadvertently caught up in all the destruction created by giant brawling robots – that one of the evil CIA operatives (Kelsey Grammer) even justifies their deaths as being “the price of freedom” – wait, what?! And in what I guess is meant to be a callback to the Janet Leigh in Psycho ‘all bets are off’ moment; Comedic actor T.J. Miller as Walhberg’s amusingly dim-witted surfer dude sidekick – the only likeable character in the entire film – is maliciously and horribly killed when Stanley Tucci’s character is required to take his place as comic relief. And then there’s the usual Michael Bay treatment of female characters – the protective father/daughter angst between Wahlberg and Peltz which punctuates the mayhem is clearly only here to provide appeal to teen girls who have been dragged along to see this tedious mess by their boyfriends. Peltz, sporting an orange spray-on tan; while Bay’s camera leers lasciviously; is clearly uncomfortable much of the time – while Jack Reynor (playing her older rally driver boyfriend) struggles to maintain a consistent American accent. And this is perhaps Walhberg’s worst performance since he was last seen making peace with pot plants in The Happening.

The pacing of this film is relentless (Bay, being an ad-man, has never been one to understand the use of beats and utilize them) – and mindless spectacle fatigue sets in about the half-way mark; the only blessing being that Bay thankfully eschews     the rapid-fire machine gun editing style (and overuse of close-ups) of previous installments in favor of longer sweeping wide shots during the action scenes – which makes them less confusing and easier to follow – but still just as boring and ugly     and uninvolving. Although the visual effects by ILM are accomplished as one would expect, the busy, overly-detailed rendering of the robots themselves tends to make them blend in with their surrounds – especially during an extended sequence aboard   a giant spacecraft above Chicago.

And it is so apparant now that Bay considers these films to be nothing more than (over)-extended big-screen advertising spots; as product placement in this installment is so completely out of control, it’s laughable – culminating in a scene where Wahlberg stops the film dead while he sculls down a Bud Light (as the camera holds) for no legitimate narrative reason – other than to show off the brand. Likewise, the second half of the film inexplicably shifts location to mainland China, before settling in Hong Kong – presumably in order to pander to Chinese auds (thus affording Bay     to throw a whole bunch of blatant cultural stereotypes at the screen).

While I can usually find the smallest of things to mention positively in even the worst of films – I’m afraid there is absolutely nothing worthy of mentioning positively here in Transformers: Age Of Extinction (hence my unprecedented score). If, however, you like your big-screen summer entertainment busy, loud, ugly and mean (not to mention exhaustingly tedious) – then this is for you – otherwise, everyone else might like to give it a real big relaxing miss and use the 166 minutes for more, well, useful things – like scrubbing fly shit off the ceiling.

Zero stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at The Piccadilly Cinemas, North Adelaide, June 26th 2014.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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One Comment
  1. Wow, zero stars? I knew this would be bad, but… Well!

    In a few weeks I’ll be going to see this in Imax with the lads from the office (one of them is a big Transformers fan). I almost NEVER go to the cinema these days, and I’m going to see this? Strange world indeed. Consider me well-warned by your review!

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