Friday, June 27, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction review

The fourth installment of the Transformers is the most Transformers-esque Transformers movie ever made. 
The newest Transformers film takes place after the catastrophic events of the last film. The supposedly good Autobots are now being hunted by the government, apparently no longer being welcome here on planet Earth. Inventor and single father Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) just wants to make some money to put his daughter (Nicola Peltz) through college, but he's having some trouble with it. That is, until he finds a huge beat up truck in a decrepit movie theater. Said truck turns out to be the head Autobot, Optimus Prime. After the CIA raids Cade's barn and threatens the life of his daughter, Cade escapes with Optimus Prime to go fight some alien threat or something. Many explosions and slow motion robot fights ensue. Michael Bay is a director with a penchant for big action films with bigger pyrotechnics. His movies are a violent barrage of actual explosives and expensive CGI. In some ways, I respect the man. People have almost always given him guff about his films. "Too many explosions!" shouts the irritated moviegoers. "I don't care." replies Michael Bay. No matter how much critics have berated his pictures, no matter what people have said, Mr. Bay has still made his big explosive movies the way he wants to make them. Are the movies any good? In my personal opinion, they aren't most of the time. Yet they all fulfill the insane creative vision of one Michael Bay. He makes these convuluted set pieces, massive explosions, and slow motion shots of attractive females. The guy has his own style, and I applaud him for that much. Despite all that, the new Transformers movie is still really bad. So bad it actually made me yearn for the older Transformers films. The film was so atrocious that I actually started to enjoy it's blatant awfulness after a while. At one point, Mark Wahlberg's character crashes a spaceship into a truck carrying Bud Light beer. The driver angrily asks him "Do you have insurance for that?" Wahlberg responds by picking up one of the prominently placed Bud Light bottles and taking a swig from it. It's such obvious product placement I couldn't respond in any other way than confused laughter. The dialogue here is quite awful. Some of it is just plain expository, bland, and boring. Yet, at times it's unintentionally genius. Lines like "My face is a warrant." will go down in cinema history as some of the most befuddling and genuine lines to ever be spoken in a movie. One cannot react in any other way than shock and awe. This film is loaded with problems. They're all just so obvious and consistent that after a while I started not to mind. My biggest problem with this movie was probably it's pacing. People have been complaining about this film's running time, but a long movie isn't a bad thing. I wouldn't mind the film's 165 minutes if it was more enjoyable at times. The robot fights often run several minutes too long and the story is much too confusing and half-baked to really follow. This caused me to slump back in my seat with my eyes glazed over just sort of staring at the images flashing in front of me. What irritates me most about this is that it actually could be good. Imagine if Bay hired a decent writer to do something awesome and creative with this material? Think  of The Lego Movie. On first glance it seems like a mediocre kids film designed only to make money. Yet, it's actually a wonderfully creative film that all ages can enjoy and it has plenty to say. What if they did that with the Transformers films? What if instead of a two-plus hour spectacle of constant explosions it was used to convey messages and emotions and a raw human story? Maybe I'm just a romantic, but I imagine a Transformers film where the CGI and pyromania take a backseat to an engaging story with sharp dialogue and memorable characters. A film where the female characters were there for more e than just eye candy. All this technical wonder could pair perfectly with a terrific screenplay. Bay isn't an awful director. If he really applied himself to the right material, he could create something beautiful. But hey, that's just me. For now we'll all have to deal with this unintentionally hilarious explosion fest. At least it's not as bad as The Amazing Spider-Man 2, right? I give Transformers: Age of Extinction 2.5 out of 5 stars. 
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4 comments:

  1. Good review Whit. It can be fun. However, it is very long and after awhile, I started to grow tired and irritated of mostly everything Bay was doing.

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  2. I dunno about the unintentional part, a lot of this movie honestly did feel self-aware, that blatant beer ad especially. I thought this film was great for that, though "technically" a "bad movie", I suppose. So bad that it's good, at least, haha! ;)

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