I'm serious. Just stop.
Why would you possibly reading this review? You already know whether or not you're going to go check out Michael Bay's latest adventures with the not quite rock 'em and sock 'em robots. You already know and you don't particularly care what I have to say about the film. If you're going to see it, then I'm almost willing to guarantee there's nothing I can say to change your mind. If you're not going to see it, then there's definitely nothing I could possibly say that would make you want to see the emotionally vacant, muddled, and ridiculously long Transformers; Age of Extinction.
You know what's really sad?
I actually had hope for Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth film in the previously planned trilogy of Transformers films that is now believed to be the first film in the second planned trilogy based upon the Hasbro characters. To be fair, the Transformers films have never been about telling an intelligent story or worrying about a cohesive plot thread.
The Transformers have been and continue to be about amped up and stylized action sequences meeting robotic eye-candy and tossing in unfulfilled childhood fantasies. So, as much as I'd love to completely trash Transformers: Age of Extinction there's also a part of me that has to acknowledge that the likelihood exists that those who've embraced the three previous films will be just as happy with this film despite the lead character part being handed over to Mark Wahlberg from Shia Labeouf, the latter who has apparently bid adieu in order to have a few personal crises and theatrical meltdowns.
The reason I had hope is precisely because of the film's change in leading men from Shia Labeouf, whose popularity I've never understood, to Mark Wahlberg, who may not necessarily be the king of cinematic range but can at least add a sense of fun and gravitas to a film series that has for the most part lacked anything resembling an emotion through its first three films.
Make that four.
If you think that I'm simply a Transformers hater who simply can't appreciate a good ole' fashioned popcorn flick, you'd be wildly wrong. I'm actually known for my love and appreciation of a number of films that have been for the most part blasted by critics. While I may not necessarily give them 4-star ratings, it's actually not that difficult to get some kudos and appreciation from me because, as much as I'm a film critic tasked with critical evaluation of films, I'm also a film lover who loves nothing back than sitting back in my seat and surrendering myself to a filmmaker's vision for a couple hours.
In fact, while I've never outright praised the Transformers films I haven't exactly trashed them either. I would certainly not call Michael Bay a good director, because he's not, but there's something you have to appreciate about a guy who is so relentlessly devoted to bigger and better and completely over-the-top action regardless of whether or not it actually makes sense.
Transformers: Age of Extinction doesn't make sense and by the end of its 165-minute running time it's difficult to imagine you'll care about anything other than ungluing yourself from the theater seat and getting yourself out of that unfathomable sensory overload as quickly as you can. There are so many action sequences woven into so many story threads that it's difficult to imagine anyone but the most devoted Transformers fans even knowing or caring about what's going on.
I suppose if you go into the theater stoned that might also help.
This stand-alone story picks up years after Dark of the Moon. Mark Wahlberg is Cade Yeager, a Texas widow who lives on a farm with his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) with her race car drivin' boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) never far behind. As you've likely gathered from the film's semi-obvious trailers, Cade stumbles across a long dormant Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen in a way that consistently made me laugh despite that not being the intention), and they all set out to see if they can save the Autobots, resist the Decepticons, and go up against the film's obligatory baddie, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), a government operative who hates aliens and will do whatever it takes to eliminate them. Stanley Tucci, who can make almost any movie he's in better but really doesn't manage to do so here, shows up as an egomaniacal billionaire working to develop a new strain of man-made Transformers.
Then, for the better part of the film's 165-minute running time we get Crash. Bang. Crash. Bang. Bludgeon. Crash. Bang. Bludgeon. Bang. Crash.
And then we get it again.
It seems like virtually everything about the film is larger than life and bigger and broader than it actually needs to be. The film's original music from Steve Jablonsky is so pulse pounding that it's exhausting, while Bay doesn't even try to pull out anything resembling actual performances from his cast. I mean, seriously, what does the guy have against actresses who can actually act?
This is not to say that there's nothing impressive about the film. D.P. Amir Mokri's lensing is impressive and Bay continues to improve, much thanks to his FX team, in creating Transformers that have unique characteristics that makes them much easier to identify this time around.
The problem is it's too much. Too long. Too painful.
No, I've never heard that before.
Michael Bay, on the other hand, I'm quite sure has heard that before.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic