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Movie Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • June 27, 2014 : 00:06
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Director: Michael Bay
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor

Deafening, soulless and incoherent—even by the low standards of two of the three previous Transformers movies—Transformers: Age of Extinction doesn’t entertain. It pummels. And for 165 dull, punishing minutes, at that.

Director Michael Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger (Skeleton Key, The Brothers Grimm) saddle the audience with a head-scratcher of a plot having something to do with a fey, sleazy Steve Jobs-ish multizillionaire (Stanley Tucci, run amok) and evil, Tea Party-ish CIA goon Kelsey Grammer unleashing a new fighting force—made of indestructible Transformium, no less—built to create a new world order of peace. Instead, the clones turn decidedly nasty and endless boom, crunch, crash, ka-boom hooey ensues. Meanwhile, on an about-to-be-foreclosed-upon Texas ranch, goofy inventor Mark Wahlberg (flat-out terrible, in a transformational way, of course) happens on a rusted-out truck that is actually good-guy Transformer leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) on the lam.

Also down on the farm is Wahlberg’s Daisy Duke-wearing, bleached-blonde, college-bound daughter (Nicola Peltz), who is encased in bright makeup and is having a secret romance with speed racer Jack Reynor, much to her dad’s disapproval. None of these characters sports a Texas accent, but then again, none of these actors has an actual character to play, nor are they in an actual movie. They’re just interchangeable avatars hired to feed a franchise, peddle Hasbro toys and pause long enough for the audience to pick up the product placements for soft drinks, Vogue magazine and clothes by Armani and Tom Ford. When we think of Transformers, we always think of cutting-edge fashion. Who doesn’t? Anyway, Wahlberg, Peltz and Reynor dutifully scramble from set piece to set piece, racing through cornfields in hot GM cars pursued by gigantic, growling robots; running around a supposedly ruined Chicago, escaping from metallic monsters by clinging to wires at vertiginous heights between buildings; and dodging a constant rain of falling cars, freighters and air-conditioning units as they scuttle around Hong Kong and China ostensibly in search of a powerful energy source, “The Seed.”

The levels of Bay-inflected mayhem and cruelty are insane. Buildings, bridges, tunnels, rapid transit trains and RVs get destroyed but we never see the thousands of people crushed, maimed or torn apart. Guiltless destruction designed for audiences who prefer their movies to be videogames. On the plus side, the special effects are much sharper and defined and the robots are way better articulated. But having to wear 3D glasses for almost three hours? Unforgivable. All Transformers: Age of Extinction needed to be was fun, diverting (it’s neither) and an excuse to launch Michael Bay on another trilogy. Score another one for Bay.

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