Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction - Review

Director: Michael Bay Writer: Ehren Kruger Studios: Paramount Pictures, di Bonaventura Pictures, Hasbro, China Movie Channel, Jiaflix Enterprises Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammer, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles Release Date (UK): 4 July, 2014 Certificate: 12A Runtime: 165 min

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if audience members emerge from “Transformers: Age of Extinction” like Kyle Reese emerging from the electric time-travel ball at the beginning of “The Terminator,” all sweaty and exhausted and writhing in pain, and asking startled passers by what year it is. This is entertainment in the same sense that getting a prostitute to stomp on your testicles with the heel of her stiletto is a sex act: technically it is, but surely there are other methods of physical pleasure out there that result in far less ball-aching agony.

Lasting a baffling 165 minutes, “Age of Extinction” is the longest of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” films and it absolutely feels like it. Rumours that the franchise had finally hired an editor have been greatly exaggerated: there’s at the very least a whole collective hour that very cleary should not be in here. Rumours that the franchise was getting a fresh new reboot are also of the greatly exaggerated variety: though there is indeed an all-new cast led by Marky Mark Wahlberg, Mr. Bay is just up to his old tricks again: that is to say, the plot is complete gibberish, the storytelling is almost entirely incomprehensible, the pace is akin to that of a glacier, and the product placement is insane, so much so that the film basically amounts to the world’s longest Bud Light commercial. Oh, and if you’re able to tell the good robots apart from the bad robots, you should probably look into joining the X-Men: your radioactive super-sight might come in handy.

What’s new? Well, there’s the Dinobots, which have been widely showcased in all the trailers and TV spots. But if you go into “Transformers 4” all pumped up for some Dinobot action, I’ve got some bad news for you: you’re gonna have to wait over 2 hours and 10 minutes for a single Dinobot to turn up. No, I’m not fucking kidding. Then there’s Stanley Tucci, who does good as a smarmy bad’un trying to build his own Transformers for inevitably incoherent reasons -- as is always the case with Tucci, his performance is the most entertaining thing in the film. As for Wahlberg, he’s given little to do outside of cracking witless one-liners, smoldering in front of sunsets, chugging back those Bud Lights, and worrying about the safety of his daughter. Which he probably should be, ‘cos surprise surprise, Bay’s still filming his female characters like glamour models at a worryingly leery photo shoot. Nicola Peltz, playing Wahlberg’s 17-year-old daughter, is treated as nothing but barely concealed cleavage bouncing up and down atop a hot pair of sunlit legs. Her introduction is literally an upskirt shot as she exits a car. Again, I’m not fucking kidding.

Then again, Bay shoots *everything* like glamour models at a worryingly leery photo shoot. His pornographic visual sensibility extends not just to tussling Transformers but to every object on-screen. I’m sure if you were to turn the camera on him during any given scene, you’d see him grinding up against a couch or a lamppost. This guy shouldn’t be directing movies; he should be directing porn, ‘cos everything to him is a money shot. And while yes, some of those shots sure do look pretty, giving a damn about any of it is an impossibility -- when everything is a money shot, nothing is at stake (well, except maybe your sanity).

And that’s all this is: just 165 pulverising minutes of relentless, showboating shots of exploding, nonsensical junk. About halfway through, you’ll look at your watch and discover to your horror that there’s another 90 minutes to go and your jaw will drop and your heart will sink and you’ll finally realise, if you haven’t realised it already, that Michael Bay fucking hates you -- cos “Transformers 4” is almost three hours long and he knows you’ll sit through every damn minute and you’ll go see “Transformers 5” when it comes out in two years. He’s even said as such: “I don’t care, let them hate: they’re still going to see the movie!” he was quoted as saying in a recent MTV interview. And we will: like a battered wife, we keep going back. But I say this: let’s not go back. Let’s stand up against this vacuous franchise and refuse to buy a ticket for “Transformers 5.” Let’s march on the streets and shout, “No, Michael Bay! Not this time!” Let’s say enough is enough, and that we will not stand for anym-- ooh, Optimus Prime riding *two* Dinobots at the same time?! “Transformers 5” *might* be fun...

Rating: 3/10

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