Friday, June 27, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Transformers: Age of Extinction Review

Directed by Michael Bay
Produced by Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and Ian Pryce
Written by Ehren Kruger
Based on Transformers by Hasbro
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles, Li Bingbing, Titus Welliver, T.J. Miller, Melanie Specht, Victoria Summer, Peter Cullen, and Frank Welker
Released: June 27, 2014
Runtime: 2 hr, 45 min
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language, and brief innuendo

    This movie is two hours and forty-five minutes long. That is almost three hours. Three hours of everything that is wrong with a modern Hollywood blockbuster. Three hours of character stereotypes, awful dialogue, wooden acting, idiotic product placement, and boring action. Three hours of audience-insulting, mind-numbing stupidity. Three hours of using strong effects to mask the fact that there’s no story. Three hours of what Michael Bay calls “filmmaking.” And while some of Bay’s other movies can at least be called “dumb fun,” Age of Extinction doesn’t even have that going for it. It looks nice, but that’s all that can be said, as even by Michael Bay standards, Age of Extinction is an awful, awful movie.
    So what little plot there is concerns a man who finds a truck inside of an abandoned movie theater. Don’t ask me how a semi-truck fit inside a movie theater, because I have no frickin’ clue. Upon bringing the truck home, he decides to scrap it so he can afford to send his daughter to college. However, when he inspects it, he realizes that it may be a Transformer, which have been hunted down since the Battle of Chicago from Dark of the Moon. Cue shady government types. After the truck, revealed to be Optimus Prime, saves the family from the trench coat wearing baddies……...uh……...I don’t know. They more or less ran out of plot at this point. Uh...EXPLOSION! DINOSAUR! HOT GIRL IN BOOTY SHORTS! MORE EXPLOSIONS!
    This is gonna be a longer review, because I’m gonna start out by giving you a rundown of each of the characters in this movie. Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager, the main protagonist of the movie. His wife, who’s name I believe is Plot Point, died of plotpointitis some time before the movie. This man is an a**hole. He is continuously irresponsible throughout the entire movie, putting his own dream ahead of his daughter’s well being. When government suits are manhandling his daughter, he continues to lie to protect a robot who he met roughly five minutes before. We are expected to like him because he’s the main character, and he has muscles. Nicola Peltz plays Tessa Yeager, Cade’s daughter. Her job, as a girl in a Michael Bay movie, is to do nothing except look pretty and scream. She does both, and nothing else. She is useless for the entire two hour and forty-five minute runtime, and has the personality of a stump. Jack Reynor plays Shane, Tessa’s boyfriend. This man is also an a**hole. He is shown to be a coward several times throughout the movie, and is a d*ck to his girlfriend’s father, because her father, in one of his rare moments of non-a**holery, has concerns about his seventeen-year-old daughter dating a twenty-year old man. dare he? Yet, we are expected to like Shane because he’s hot, has muscles, and drives a cool car.
But wait. It gets better. Kelsey Grammer plays Harold Attinger, the head of the CIA Black Ops division. After the Battle of Chicago, he decided to hunt down Autobots and Decepticons alike for their part in the deaths of thousands of people (He has a valid point). That said, later in the movie, when innocent people are put in harms way by his actions, he says, “Innocent people die every day.” effectively unraveling his entire motivation. That sound you hear is me banging my head against a brick wall. Titus Welliver plays the head of a CIA Black Ops division tasked with killing Transformers. I wasn’t sure this guy had a name until Wikipedia confirmed it for me. Apparently, it’s James Savoy. You can guess how much of a personality he has. Stanley Tucci plays Joshua Joyce, the head of a technology company, and the man who almost singlehandedly dooms the human race. Yet, we are expected not to hate him because...he has a half-a**ed redemption arc? I don’t know. The direction implies he’s a good guy by the end of the movie. There are many other human characters in the movie, but none of them have personalities besides something like cheap comic relief, some don’t have names despite star billing, and none of them are memorable in any way.
On to the Transformers. Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots who, if you remember from the end of the third movie, executed a surrendering relative in cold blood, thereby earning himself a**hole status. He also lost his arm in the third movie, if you remember again, but it has miraculously reappeared in this movie. Apparently, he can heal himself, which we do see him do at one point, despite saying at another point that he needs the other members of his team to heal him. Not to nitpick, but this ability to self-heal also negates the need for a Chief Medical Officer, which the Autobots do have. Just saying.
The rest of the Transformers can be summed up pretty quickly. Bumblebee, one of the few returning characters, does nothing but shoot at stuff. Hound is a gun-nut stereotype. green. And British. Drift is an Asian stereotype, and Brains disappears after dropping an exposition bomb on the audience; he literally walks off screen and is never seen again. Lockdown is a bounty hunter who turns into a big gun, which pretty much explains his role in things. The Dinobots, some of the coolest characters from the show, are a literal deus ex machina. Finally, Galvatron is something I can’t talk about because spoilers (If you've seen any of the shows, you probably already know). He’s the one character who feels like he should do something as he's been built up as one of the main antagonists, yet he does nothing. Literally nothing.
And that’s it for the characters. I’m gonna try to rap the rest of this up quickly, because I’m already going long. The writing is awful, feels like it came from the mind of a six-year-old, and includes this dialogue exchange: “You need a warrant.” “My face is my warrant.” ...Somebody frickin’ wrote this. Let that sink in. On top of that, the acting is wooden (except for Stanley Tucci, who does his best with what little he's given), but even the worst performance looks Oscar worthy when compared to Nicola Peltz, who proves that her performance as Katara in The Last Airbender wasn’t entirely the fault of M. Night Shyamalan’s direction. But, hey, at least she’s hot, right? Right? Uh...right.
There’s the usual obvious product placement here, but it feels stepped up a few levels. Like, we’re talking up to Man of Steel levels here. Like, having Mark Wahlberg hit a Budweiser truck with a spaceship, jump out, and open one of the spilled-out bottles on a guy’s car. The action is boring, not once exciting, and feels like a stale rehash of some of the better, fun action scenes from the previous three movies. You can’t be paid to care about what’s going on. You just yawn through it,and pray that it ends quickly. But if there’s one thing that can be said about this movie, as with every other Michael Bay movie, it’s that the effects are great. They don’t begin to make up for how awful the rest of the movie is, but they’re definitely the only bright spot
Even with expectations lowered to “It’s a Michael Bay movie” levels, this movie is an unholy piece of crap. The effects are the only thing that don’t completely suck, and while they are admittedly excellent, they can’t compensate for a cast of characters made up of idiots or worse, ridiculous dialogue, horrid acting, stupefying product placement, and yawn-inducing action. Age of Extinction is so bad that it actually gives Revenge of the Fallen a run for its money as the worst Transformers movie. I felt insulted walking out of it, like Michael Bay was personally giving his audience a $30 million dollar middle finger by making it. For your own sake, don’t see this movie. See something with effort put into it. Watch grass grow. Watch paint dry. Just stay away. Far, far away.

Rating: ✬✰✰✰
(½ / 4 stars)

Various Stuff and Such: (Also known as the tangent/epilogue section)
-Remember to comment with your own thoughts on the movie and follow the blog if you enjoyed the review.
-This movie tried to have a lot of comedy in it, but there was only one moment that made any of the people in my theater laugh. Mark Wahlberg was talking about his wife and his daughter, and we got a nice shot of a picture of the family. Wahlberg was featured with nothing to make him look like the high school student he was supposed to be in the picture, so what we were left with was a picture of a forty-three year old man with his arm around an actual teenager holding a baby. This opened so many unintentionally sick doors that I couldn’t help but giggle uncontrollably.
-I’m pretty sure that this movie contradicted its own mythology by introducing the idea of the Transformers having creators. What about the Allspark? That MacGuffin from the only halfway decent Transformers movie? Nothing? Okay.
-When a movie pretty much opens up with a character’s dislike of the current state of Hollywood (a constant stream of sequels, remakes, reboots, and unoriginality) being attributed to senility, you know you’re in for a frickin’ treat.

-Jeremiah VanderHelm
Wannabe Movie Critic

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