Monday, June 30, 2014

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" Review

Transformers: Age of Extinction Review

Michael Bay’s “Transformers” film franchise has been strange to say the least, especially for a franchise based upon a toy line by Hasbro. Knowing Michael Bay, I knew this would be unrelenting, hyper-kinetic and overly-silly and through it all I tried to keep an open mind. I liked the first movie, detested the second film with a fierily passion and thought the third film was a step in a better direction, but that third film still was not perfect. Each film has a laundry list of problems, problems I feel that if they didn’t exist, the franchise would have been much stronger overall. They are overly-long, they feature vulgar humor, some of the robots have strange personalities, and most of all, Bay tries to juggle way too much at once with his stories. This is not at all what I expected with a franchise of movies about massive, morphing robots. But hey, that’s Michael Bay for you.

I am well aware that “Transformers: Age of Existinction” made $100 million at the box office over the weekend. Already, I can imagine more than 90% of my readers have already seen this film for themselves. I have read some repulsive reviews for the movie already, but that is standard operating procedure for “Transformers” films, and I just had to see the film for myself, despite the bad word. So, I maybe repeating what you all already know, but I just had to see the film for myself.

Everything I mentioned above that is wrong with this franchise; Michael Bay puts on steroids for this fourth installment. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is a self-parody, a horrendous miscalculation of everything Bay did with this series up to this point. Once again, Bay is in a dire need for an editor, as the film quickly wares out its welcome. What’s worse is that Bay decided to shoehorn in so many sub-plots that by the time the film was over, I had a severe migraine. What blows my mind is that for every single one of these movies, Bay seems to forget his target audience. Why would children want to see loads of sub-plots all wrapping around a master plot that is hard to follow? Why would they want to sit in their seat for over two hours? Why fill your film with a bunch of useless garbage that you won’t even discuss later? This target audience only wants one thing, some great robot fights; the problem is we have to watch a near three hour movie to get to the good stuff. I think Bay gets way too carried away with the spectacle and then he forgets about logic, narrative and character.

What is most disappointing is that the cool stuff that drawing people to the theater is barely in the movie at all. While I was watching the previews for “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” I was drawn in by the Dinobots. Finally, after three movies, we were going to see Dinobots in the fourth installment. But once Optimus Prime sets them free and they are fighting, they are gone before we really get to know them and what they are capable of. I felt that was a complete embarrassment and coy decision by the entire creative team, and I have only begun to scratch the surface of the film’s problems.

The film follows Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), an amateur inventor who buys a big-rig truck to see what he can get out of it, despite the pleads from his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), who he is trying to get through college. Yeager soon finds out that he found Optimus Prime (voiced again by Peter Cullen), who has been in hiding for five years after the Battle of Chicago. The CIA has created a black-ops group to destroy all Transformers, both Autobot and Decepticon, for their ongoing war on Earth. This crusade is led by Agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) and Savoy (Titus Welliver). Their secret weapon is a bounty hunter Transformer named Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan). Soon Savoy is at Yeager’s door, and Optimus helps him and his family escape safely.

But this is a “Transformers” movie. Better yet, this is Michael Bay “Transformers” movie. So of course Attinger has alternative motives as does Lockdown which involves a scientist named Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci). Of course, both motives for each of these characters are different and can only mean more destruction for Earth. All of that is plenty for a “Transformers” movie, but then you add in the Dinobots and The Creators and Transformium and half a dozen other needless subplots and you quickly learn how exhausting an experience this fourth film was. Never in the history of this franchise has a film been such a bloated mess. I think Wahlberg does what he can as the new face for this franchise. I will even go as far to say that a sword-wielding Wahlberg makes more thematic sense than a screaming Shia Labeouf. But this story is so congested and boring that the talents of Wahlberg, Grammer and Tucci are all but wasted. Sadly neither Nicola Peltz nor her secret boyfriend played by Jack Reynor is interesting enough to make up for anything.

It is sad that film likes this just makes bank on principle. Are we living in an age where people will swallow the hype and allow bad movies to break records? It certainly seems that way. I think more than any other movie in this franchise, “Age of Instinct ion” could be the massive clunker in the franchise. I am almost tempted to take a look at “Revenge of the Fallen” once more to make sure I am correct. “Revenge of the Fallen” may have been insulting in several ways, but the storyline in this fourth film is so boring, so disastrous, so incoherent that I don’t think I can manage sitting through it again. I truly believe somebody needs to pull the plug on this franchise or hand it over to someone who better understands this concept, leave Bay to his childish ways. This fourth film is a waste of time, through and through. Its not an adventurous film, its not a fun film, and the amount of time you have to waste to really see the robot fights is daunting. If the robot fights are all you care about, wait for redbox and be prepared to fast forward.

FINAL GRADE: D-

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