“Aggravatingly repetitive action sequences that are so busy it becomes near pointless to follow but does allow for a chance to zone out and think about how cool the cartoon used to be…”
Transformers: Age of Extinction Review
by Matt Allen
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer
Director(s): Michael Bay
Screenwriter(s): Ehren Kruger
Running Time: 165 minutes
Everyone’s favourite shape-shifting alien truck-monsters are back for a fourth instalment. Megan Fox has been replaced by someone blonder and more cooperative and Shia LeBeouf has hopefully been institutionalised or better yet drowned, but what’s left looks to be pretty much business as usual: shit changing into other shit and fucking each other up.
Scrapyard inventor Cade (Wahlberg) teams up with the now fugitive Autobots when the planet is under threat of becoming covered by a Decepticon bounty-hunter’s ‘seed’. Gross.
That might be a little misleading. The ‘seed’ is actually just the MacGuffin of the film, not some Decepticon love-mayo so just calm down. The film opens to see ancient Transformers ‘cyber-forming’ Earth using the Seed and wiping out the dinosaurs in the process. Essentially plucking the terra-forming plot-point from the Man of Steel crimp-sheet, this sets the tone of benign unoriginality that encrusts the entire film. Oh, and enjoy the dinosaurs while you can because you ain’t seeing them for a while…
Cut to the present (or more accurately, the near future) and meet Cade Yeager and his super-hot daughter (Peltz) with whom he has a strained relationship due to his reluctance to let her grow up. Wahlberg’s performance in the role is very much by the book presumably because the script has tasked him with little more than pronouncements on his character’s thoughts, feelings and back story. Even when given more to do at the arrival of Peltz’s secret boyfriend (played by Jack Reynor who answers the question ‘what would Seth Rogen look like if he had movie-star good-looks?’) we’re simply subjected to a pro-longed ‘over-protective father’ gag that makes every word out of Wahlberg’s mouth a predictable disappointment.
At the discovery of a battle-weary Optimus Prime – the Autobot head honcho – the trio are flung into a fight between the fugitive Transformers and the American government who want to send them back to whatever terrorist planet they came from as well as harness their power for military application – naturally. Here, the film attempts to explain how the shape-shifting robots actually work which involves some poorly written techno jargon and the introduction of the worst fictionalised element since Avatar’s Unobtainium: Transformium! So now, instead of being allowed to let the relative ridiculousness of the robots’ genetic make-up soar silently over our heads, we have been burdened with the answer to a question we never really felt necessary to ask.
But none of this matter does it? Because we are all here to see the Dino-Bots. Yeah, the Dino-Bots will make everything better again. And admittedly they do…for the ten minutes that they spend on screen. Which is incredible when you realise that this flick is 2.5 hours long! Frankly, by the time the pre-historic bastards turn up it ironically feels like the film started playing sometime during the Jurassic era.
So what fills up the time? Aggravatingly repetitive action sequences that are so busy it becomes near pointless to follow but does allow for a chance to zone out and think about how cool the cartoon used to be; an embarrassingly vast array of product placement and an entirely pointless sub-plot involving cloned Decepticons which is used for nothing more than to beat us over the head with the pseudo-philosophical message of the film: do Transformers have souls?
Yet another blockbuster-by-numbers. Bigger, badder and more obnoxious than ever. Bay seems dead set on bleeding this franchise dry until all that is left is a husk of Transformium enriched compost.