Transformers: Age of Extinction
Coming out hard on the heels of Godzilla and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, both of which were enormously fun action adventures with fantastic special effects, I had high hopes for Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth Transformer movie to grace our screens since 2007. Directed once again by Michael Bay but with an all new cast, this new Transformers offering had the potential to take a new pathway. Sadly it chose not to.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Cade Yeager, a yet to be successful inventor who tinkers away in his garage with spare parts and junk he has collected, much to the frustration of his improbably beautiful daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Things are not going well for the Yeager family. The mortgage is overdue and the house is about to be sold out from under them. It is at this point Wahlberg makes an amazing discovery in an abandoned movie theatre…the old truck he buys for scrap just happens to be none other than Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen).
Set several years after Dark of the Moon, and following a devastating Transformer battle which virtually destroyed Chicago, the public has been warned to report any ‘Alien Activity’. Autobots are no longer viewed as allies, and are being systematically hunted down and destroyed in a covert operation led by counter intelligence office Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer). Attinger is not only in cahoots with a Decepticon, but he is also hocking off Autobot parts to Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), an egomaniacal inventor trying to build his own superior breed of Transformers.
Initially the film showed signs that it might be more than your formulaic ‘insert multiple explosions and pretty girls’ genre. There were moments of self mockery such as Wahlberg criticising Tessa’s wardrobe, and pointing out that her shorts seemed to be shrinking by the minute. I had been thinking the exact same thing myself. But the promise was short lived. The movie soon deteriorated into a long (LONG) drawn out story inhabited by two dimensional characters, in particular Tessa’s boyfriend (Jack Reynor) who really seemed to serve little purpose at all except as a small thorn in Wahlberg’s side. Tucci hammed it up as much as he could, but he was flogging a dead horse. The Transformers appeared to have more personality than many of the humans.
Moving the action from America to China set up the potential for some added interest, but it just wasn’t enough to keep the film entertaining. Admittedly there were some enjoyable special effects. The transformations were impressive, the Transformers’ faces were expressive, and the big enemy spaceship was suitably intimidating. Yet there were so many explosions that I became completely immune to them, at times it felt like simply gratuitous smashing of buildings and robots alike. Even the entrance of Dinosaur Transformers towards the conclusion failed to recapture the audience’s imaginations. By the time the closing credits rolled out across the screen the audience appeared to heave a big sigh of relief that the movie was finally over. 165 mins was just far too long.
Rating: M Violence.
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