Transformers: Age Of Extinction
The biggest, loudest and dumbest movie of the summer has arrived, folks.
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is everything you'd expect from an entry in this god-awful franchise (or any film directed by Michael Bay, for that matter). It's a brutal assault on the senses that pummels the viewer into submission with an endless array of mind-numbing action sequences, clanging noises, terrible dialogue, racial stereotypes and reprehensible depictions of women that are guaranteed to induce migraines for audiences around the globe.
Sure, it might not be quite as painful to sit through as the past two installments ("Revenge of the Fallen" and "Dark of the Moon"), but that's basically the equivalent of saying stubbing your toe isn't as bad as getting poked in the eye.
Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky is absent this time around. Instead, we're introduced to a new, slightly better protagonist, Cade Yeager (played by Mark Wahlberg), an automobile mechanic and overprotective father living in Paris, Texas with his gorgeous teenage daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz). After Yeager buys an old semi-truck with the intent to sell its parts in order to financially support Tessa's college education, they're shocked to discover that the rusty vehicle is actually the iconic Transformer himself, Optimus Prime (voiced once again by Peter Cullen) in disguise.
As it turns out, Prime and his remaining race of robots have been forced to go into hiding because the government is intent on wiping them out following the destruction of Chicago that occurred in the previous film. Unfortunately, this makes Yeager and Tessa targets for the government once they discover that the heroic autobot has taken shelter with them, forcing them to go on the run with Tessa's hunky boyfriend, Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor), while simultaneously attempting to stop a corrupt CIA division's plan to build superior Transformers that they can control at will.
The convoluted plot only gets more incomprehensible from there, subjecting the viewer to an abundant amount of stock figures who spew out tedious forms of nonsensical exposition. Nobody goes to see a "Transformers" film for the art of storytelling, but shouldn't a film based off of a series of children's toys be a little easier to follow?
Perhaps making an attempt to comprehend exactly what the hell is going would be more compelling for the audience if Bay tried to give us characters that weren't clich-ridden caricatures. Yeager is certainly a more appealing protagonist than LaBeouf's shrill teenage brat, but that's only because Wahlberg is so genuine in just about any role that he portrays, providing the film with some unintentional laughs based on the fearless determination of his performance.
As for Peltz's Tessa, who is mainly referred to as the "daughter" or "girlfriend" throughout the majority of the picture, she's merely a damsel in distress for the dominant male figures to protect, much like Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whitely who came before her. Bay glorifies her as a sex object at all times, giving her nothing to do but scream "Help me!" in just about every other scene, before being rescued by her father or significant other.
The real stars of the film are the Transformers themselves, of course, but watching them debate whether or not the human race is worth saving for the fourth freaking time is just as dull as it was the first three. If they're not fighting one another, they simply stand around like a bunch of enlightened prophets, babbling phony, existential bullshit about the importance of mankind. In the midst of battle, however, they utter phrases such as "Die, bitch!" or "I will kill you," which are just charming things to hear from heroes that were initially manufactured for kids.
It's hard to put down the visual effects of the film, which are stunning at times, but without anything valuable at stake or any characters to root for, the film resembles little more than a ceaseless bombardment of explosions and noise. There's no heart at the center of these films, just violence begetting more violence with blatantly conservative undertones and shameless amounts of product placement.
On top of that, the film goes on for a whopping 165 minutes, clocking in as the longest entry in the already-bloated franchise. That's only ten minutes shorter than "The Godfather." Dear readers, is it really necessary for a mindless summer blockbuster with absolutely nothing to say to be nearly the same length as Francis Ford Coppola's beloved crime epic? Seriously, that's just ridiculous, and it makes the film's final hour of chaos feel all the more punishing.
Regardless, it's not like what's written here is going to change the fact that this film will certainly be a financial success. It's doubtful that anyone who reads this review of "Transformers: Age of Extinction" will be surprised or change their minds as to whether or not they go to see it. The first three "Transformers" films made bucket loads of money, so it's hard to deny the fact that this one probably will as well.
If you're looking for quality in contemporary cinema, please, for the love of God, avoid this film at all costs. Michael Bay has enough money as it is, and if we give him more he'll only continue to revel in the most amoral, soulless aspects of the medium and use it to his advantage to create yet another visual monstrosity that will be projected in countless theaters worldwide.
If you have to see it, though, be sure to bring a blindfold, earplugs, a bottle of water and some Advil. Trust me, you'll need them.