Sunday, June 29, 2014

[Review] Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction is an excruciating experience at best. An unpleasant clamor. The type of movie that makes you cringe every minute, pull your own hair out, and beg for the end. We're bombarded with CGI overload, melodramatic music (the horns and strings ramp up every time someone walks across a room), vacuous stock dialogue, and misogynistic gags. There's even a level of creepiness between Mark Wahlberg's character and his teenage daughter (Nicola Peltz). And that's all within the first 5 minutes. The trend continues throughout the entire painstaking duration.

Early on, there's a pathetic attempt at pulling a 22 Jump Street during a scene where an old guy is complaining about "Movies these days... Sequels and remakes... A bunch of crap... Special effects, IMAX..." It would be a fairly agreeable piece of commentary, if Michael Bay weren't the prime offender of this, and if a 3-hour turdfest wasn't about occur. Whether it be a hint of awareness, or the idea that he just doesn't care what people think about the superficial bombast, this still doesn't make it any less awful.

When we meet Wahlberg's character, his thick Boston accent seems out of place among the cornfields on his Texas farm. I'm definitely not suggesting that people don't transplant, but in this instance it just comes off as Wahlberg showing up to yell lines thrown at him, stare blankly at CGI effects, and roll around for a paycheck. "I don't think it's a truck at all." The awkwardness of the performance rivals his infamously hilarious display in The Happening.

There's one semi-impressive sequence that involves an exhilarating chase, after a Black Ops investigation of Wahlberg's farm leads to the bot breakout. But it'd be better if Wahlberg's obnoxious friend wasn't there, and if it didn't eventually devolve into explosions and ridiculous physics. And this isn't the amusing variety of over-the-top stunts; it's the eye-rolling kind.

Going forward, the film is a gigantic blurry chain of clanky action scenes and convoluted plot. It's easy to forget what's actually happening on screen and who is trying to do what. Whenever there's a hole, a reach, or a dead end, a big explosion wipes everything away, and next thing you know, they're in Hong Kong doing stuff. 

The film contains a running theme about the robots having a disdain for humans. "I'm a slave to no one." "I'm not paid enough for this." Maybe that's the meta point. These transformers are tired of being manipulated and blown up by Michael Bay, time and time again, and they're not getting their proper due.

One can argue that Transformers: Age of Extinction is pure spectacle and that it doesn't need to be judged so harshly. But spectacle shouldn't make you feel like you've just guzzled a gallon of gasoline, saddled up on a mechanical bull, and had a young child swing a metal baseball bat at you for three hours.



  1. I always think it's funny seeing a trailer that loudly promotes the film as "PRODUCED BY MICHAEL BAY." Are they intentionally trying to make me not want to see it?

  2. Good review Zach. Three hours is too much for most movies. Especially a Transformers piece of junk.