Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
(12A) Running time: 165 minutes
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Ehren Kruger
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver, Li Bingbing
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish
Michael Bay promised new things with his fourth instalment of the (scarily) popular Transformers franchise. New characters, new locations, new robots, new everything. Yet coming away from Transformers: Age of Extinction, I felt cheated by Bay’s promises, and to be perfectly honest I felt angry. Angry that I (like everyone else if you look at the box office reports) was sucked into this so-called game changer, which is in essence too long, too stupid, and covers territory already covered in the previous films: lots and lots of messy carnage, which yet again becomes a mish mash of bright colours, impossible to see what is happening (God dammit man keep that camera steady!) and sick inducing dialogue. The Bayhem commences from the get go, and never stops, ever, not even for a second. If you are going to see this, take a sick bag for the dialogue and messy action, and a pillow because it is just so fecking long!
However, Age of Extinction does start OK, or it does after an Autobot (I forget which one, I don’t really care!) is captured by a team of robot hunting CIA operatives and their Transformer helper (odd, considering they are trying to get rid of them ) Lockdown. Now, as Lockdown is supposedly working for the creators of the Transformers, we must believe him to be scary, so let’s give him a great big scary English accent shall we! Bay delivers this ridiculous opening scene with a desperate attempt to get his audience to feel for this poor, hunted Transformer (who the hell was it again???). The dialogue, oh the dialogue “no, we helped you, why are you doing this, I have no weapons, be merciful, please, FREEEDOM!!” It could have gone like that, and still it would have made little difference. I will decide if I care or not, and no amount of cheesy dialogue and horrible emotive music is going to force me to connect with this hunk of metal, so stop if right now!
Anyway, once Mark Wahlberg enters as Cade Yeagar (who the hell thought up this name), as a replacement for Shia LaBeouf’s annoying Sam Witwicky (still makes me laugh),and Wahlberg is great. I like Wahlberg see, and he mixes action, comedy and tough guy well, and for the most part (usually when he is barely talking) he is a great addition to the franchise. He is over protective of his daughter Tessa (a rather tasty Nicola Peltz) and while this Father and Daughter scenario is fun for all of two minutes, the over protective Father nonsense, with big speeches and those forced moments of emotion, becomes irritating. Oh, and being a Bay film, let’s again pile on the emotion with some cheesy music, and let’s get the sunset in shot, pause, hold it there, you crying yet? No? Ah well, we shall try this again very soon!
Yeagar finds an old truck, it happens to be the one and only Optimus Prime, Yeagar the inventor works on his dormant new toy, Daughter doesn’t like it, irritating twat Lucas (T.J Miller) alerts the Government, here come the CIA as Kelsey Grammer’s Harold Attinger (really, these names!) orders them to find Prime. Titus Welliver plays a great nasty CIA operative leader named James Savoy, and as they arrive, things are actually looking pretty decent. Amongst Bay’s signature filmmaking style (ooh, the shine on the black CIA cars, the long shots, the DUST!) and a rousing score, Transformers appears slightly more intense. However, skilled killers search a barn for a giant robot, forgetting to check under the massive space of broken floorboards (are they really that dumb), Tessa is about to get shot, Prime notices and decides to save the day, and here he comes, bursting out of the hidey hole in the ground “HERE I AM!!!!” he bellows, audiences jaws hit the floor, people curl up in embarrassment, grab those sick bags now!
And so it goes on, each moment of tension ruined by child-like dialogue, with the Transformers themselves becoming more and more irritating as the film progresses. Silent Transformers, now there’s a plan, because their dialogue here is just awful. In fact, everyone should be silent, and maybe, just maybe this film would be a little more enjoyable. I don’t want to hear so-called crowd pleasing one-liners in the middle of a big action sequence, but unfortunately there is no escape. The only robot who is enjoyable here is Hound, and that is because he is voiced by the great John Goodman. Oh, and BumbleBee, please PLEASE fix your voice box because it is really REALLY annoying and simply aint funny anymore!
Age of Extinction’s first hour (there’s bloody three of them!) is quite enjoyable, and more new characters are introduced, and Stanley Tucci’s Joshua Joyce, a man who has learnt how to build Transformers (say hello Galvatron) is a welcome relief of genuine comedy. The film goes downhill fast though, and all the promises of something new disappear, like your eyesight will after this onslaught of big action scenes that barely register because there is SO much going on. We soon fall into familiar territory, and a two hour battle commences, and has little or no impact. Yes Bay shoots action well, but he is no Paul Greengrass, so keep that fecking camera steady will you! The score is awful, the dialogue, as I have said, will make you vomit, and the more the characters are on screen, the less you will care about them. There are plot holes the size of Hound’s waste (exactly where DID the Dinobots come from???), and the dazzling array of special effects (some actually quite poor, especially a slow motion scene involving Yeagar and family falling over a bridge) become the best cause of a headache I have ever witnessed.
There are some good moments in the last two hours mind: scenes onboard Lockdown’s ship are quite dark and creepy (until people talk), a great moment involving Yeagar Father, Daughter and daughter’s race car driving boyfriend (Jack Reynor) climbing across metal ropes anchored from spaceship to tall building is quite gripping, the Dinobots are cool and the shift to China is an inspired decision. It doesn’t save the film, nothing can save the film, and as well as the awful, awful script and brain frying action, the film is just too bloody long. I was knackered just from fidgeting!
Age of Extinction is proof that Bay is never going to change, and sadly the record breaking box office returns means that he has no reason too. People flock to see these films, they will flock to see Transformers 5, but when oh when is someone going to say enough is enough. I got sucked into it, just like everyone else, and I am angry with myself for letting that happen. The franchise has got steadily worse with each film, and Age of Extinction takes the biscuit, so stop now, please, just stop or hand the directing duties over to someone who can insert some fresh ideas.
Transformers: Age of Extinction should be re-named Age of the Headache, or Age of the Numb Bum, because that is what you will get from it.