TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley
Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor
2014, 165 Minutes, Directed by: Michael Bay
A Space Odyssey was 160 minutes. The Godfather was 170 minutes.
There is no reason on Earth that Transformers: Age of Extinction needs
to be 165 minutes. It is a bloated, incoherent mess that may divert children
(and grown-ups who enjoyed playing with the toys) who have turned the last three
films into international hits. It’s a prime example of why box office is not a
good measure of quality.
Written by Ehren Kruger, a
once promising screenwriter who now makes a lot of money for “scene: good
robots fight bad robots” sets us up with Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a
Texas inventor who is about to lose his home. It’s five years after the
events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon
(2011) and the battle of Chicago. For some reason the Autobots (the good
transformers) are now considered the enemy and are being slowly eradicated
by a government black ops group headed by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer).
It’s at this moment that Cade finds a beat up old truck that – surprise,
surprise – is really Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots.
When the government swoops
down on Cade and threatens his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), he gets mad,
and throws in his lot with Optimus Prime. The rest of the movie consists of
chasing and fighting, with yet another battle of Chicago and then, if that
wasn’t enough, moving the action to China for another battle in Hong Kong.
It turns out that Attinger is in cahoots with Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci),
who is recycling and deconstructing the robotic debris to create a new
generation of transformers.
Meanwhile, between fights – and sometimes during them – Cade is very upset
that Tessa, about to graduate high school, has a boyfriend. Shane (Jack
Reynor) is three years older than she is and Cade rants so much that this
reviewer – himself the father of a teenage girl who just graduated from high
school – found him to be a complete jerk. If this was Kruger’s attempt at
comic relief, it fails miserably. Meanwhile there are still other robots,
also bad, who are working with Attinger for reasons of their own.
"It may not be the worst movie of the summer, but it's pretty
Therefore, for nearly three
hours director Michael Bay has the good robots fight the bad robots,
introducing new ones with little explanation and just assuming that if
you’re willingly watching the movie you already know who they are and why
they’re there. Most of the action scenes with the robots are tedious,
although the showdown between two humans, Cade and black ops leader James
Savoy (Titus Welliver), actually shows some spark.
This is beyond a “check
your brains at the door” sort of movie. This is a movie that has a character
go from being a hard-ass to cuddly comical relief simply because of a phone
call making him realize he was wrong. It’s one where the CIA is building a
top secret robot army using advanced transformers technology . . . in China.
After all, it’s not like we’d be worried about China acquiring the
technology for themselves. Hollywood is more concerned that this movie
appeals to audiences across Asia.
Although there are some
good actors in the cast, none distinguish themselves here. Wahlberg is
embarrassing as the obsessive father. Grammer and Tucci are saddled with
cartoon characters. Peltz and Reynor at least have the advantage that
they’re not Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox from the earlier films.
Transformers: Age of Extinction may not be the worst movie of the
summer but it’s pretty bad. Nonetheless, it’s going to make a fortune
proving once again that H.L. Mencken was right when he noted that no one
ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
Daniel M. Kimmel is a
veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. He recently
released his first novel, Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood
and the Bartender’s Guide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
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