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[Insert joke about general horribleness here] – Transformers: Age of Extinction

June 27, 2014


  1. The vague simulacrum of a plot goes something like this: Autobots are being hunted by the CIA with the assistance of some Transformer guy in a big spaceship (Lockdown, one of the few robot characters with a whiff of interest about them). Wahlberg et famille find a beat up Optimus Prime, these forces collide, and then we’re off — to God knows where. There’s also stuff about an R&D firm making Transformers with  — I’m not fucking kidding — “Transformium,” and inadvertently resurrecting Megatron in the process (in the form of a Frank Welker-voiced Galvatron, an almost insultingly minor nod to the old days). These weak bones are the the skeleton upon which Bay hangs his usual explosions, screeching tires, whiplash editing, horrible, HORRIBLE dialogue, over-designed robots, American flags, saturated sunsets and what have you. He’s swirling down the drain of self-parody at this point. Also, a screenwriter is credited, but I’m skeptical any document resembling a script could be found on set.
  2. Wahlberg plays the improbably named Cade Yeager, a Texas inventor. Yes, an inventor. Not since Jessica Alba portrayed super-scientist Sue Storm has casting been so risible. (In line with his 9/11 pronouncements, his character kills a trained CIA assassin who hunts giant alien robots for a living — WITH A FOOTBALL. YOU CANNOT STOP THE WAHLBERG.)
  3. Peter Cullen, the one continuous thread back to the warmly treasured cartoons of yore, returns as the voice of Prime. This is always welcome, since his deep tones were one of the main reasons that that character become one of my childhood heroes. Prime of old was a kind, noble leader who fought when he had to, but always kept a level head in the face of Megatron’s never-ending schemes to destroy everyone and everything. Cullen made him John Wayne without the swagger. This Prime? He says “I’LL KILL YOU ALL!!!” at the top of his mechanical lungs about twenty times during the runtime. This doesn’t sync up with nobility, and it’s painful to hear Cullen say such things. One wonders if a little bit of him balks as he’s recording in the booth. (In an odd way, the dichotomy reminds me of TV vs. movie Jean-Luc Picard. The philosophical diplomat became the aging action hero, slugging it out with foes new and old.)
  4. That Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci are in this mess is enough to make you bury your face in your hands from vicarious embarrassment. Or hang yourself, take your pick. I’m sure their paychecks salve everything, but still. You want to drag them out like Secret Service agents pulling a president away from a hail of bullets.
  5. Will there ever be a day when the Transformers are the stars of their own franchise? They’re not even secondary characters at this point, and barely tertiary. And they’re just as insufferable as everyone else, no matter if John Goodman and Ken Watanabe provide voices. And so many things about them are just because, in the proud tradition of the Michael Bay School of Just Because Filmmaking. A samurai Autobot? Sure! Hound has a beard and smokes a metal cigar(?)? Sure!
  6. This movie is two hours and forty-five minutes long. Two hours. And forty. Five. Minutes. And it’s like you’re being catheterized by a clumsy trainee nurse for each and every one of them.
  7. This is another summer tentpole that kowtows to the growing Asian market and their billions of eyeballs, setting its finale in Hong Kong and inserting a token Chinese actress (Li Bingbing), who of course knows goddamn kung fu. This is getting so very forced, and it feels like it’s in every damn movie at this point. Can the Chinese not make their own movies? Do they have to hijack ours? In fairness, it’s probably hard to deploy their archipelago of slave labor camps for artistic purposes.
  8. Oh wow the Dinobots are youknowwhatwhothehellcares.
  9. The magic briefcase of the film, the Seed (I guess we capitalize it), is introduced about 15 hours in. It looks like a giant suppository. Oh how I’d love to cram it up Bay’s ass.
  10. Many defend these Transformers movies and their ilk, saying that we should all be able to turn our brains off in the summertime and enjoy action movie rides. Here’s my rejoinder — and I say it as good-naturedly as possible: If you like this movie, you’re a fucking moron.

Some of you will recall that lovable trove of bad movie skewering, Mystery Science Theater 3000. In one episode, as Mike Nelson, Crow and Tom Servo neared the end of yet another loathsome B-movie abomination and it was coming apart at the seams before their very eyes, Mike figuratively threw up his hands and declared “I have never known more about what isn’t going on in a movie.” That pretty much sums up Age of Extinction. If I paid for a full price IMAX 3D ticket, I might file a police report for theft. Avoid this movie like AIDS.

Zero out of five pairs of Optimus Prime lips. Yes, the first null set ever doled out here. Congratulations, Mr. Bay!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2014 12:39 pm

    Terrible film. Loved the MST3K reference you threw in here, though!

    You can read my full review of Age of Extinction here:

  2. August 15, 2014 6:12 am

    Michael Bay’s Age of Extinction is probably the most enjoyable Transformers movie yet… but is it any good? No. Are there good parts? Sure. The first twenty minutes of the film are light-hearted and enjoyable with scene stealer T.J. Miller chewing up the scenery but is killed off in the first action scene. Wahlberg is a better protagonist than Labeouf but is bland, Tucci starts off menacing but is reduced to a cartoon, and Kelsey Grammer is wasted. The special effects are notably worse than the others but at least you can tell the difference between the Transformers. The biggest problem with this movie is the run time which drags on for too long. The first half of the movie is good, the middle is absymal, and the end is meh.

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