Friday, June 27, 2014


Director Michael Bay’s fourth film adaptation of the Hasbro line of toy robots can be summed up in one word; relentless. It never lets up in throwing everything but the kitchen-sink at you; many characters, various sub-plots, countless robots and aliens, and more battles and chases than can be remembered. But being relentless in your approach isn’t necessarily a sin; it’s how you use that approach to tell your story that really matters.
Taking place a few years after the events of the third film, the friendly Autobots and evil Decepticons are both on humanity’s hit-list for all of the destruction they have caused. The Autobot leader, Optimus Prime (once again voiced by Peter Cullen) goes into hiding only to be discovered by down-on-his-luck inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), before being discovered by a rouge CIA man (Kelsey Grammer) and a corporate leader (Stanley Tucci) who want Prime to build their own arsenal of weaponized robots.

AGE OF EXTINCTION is a film built around many ideas; family drama, man’s place in the universe, mankind meddling with technology they are not ready for, displaced values amongst leaders, good vs. evil and corporate and global espionage. There is a lot going on in this TRANSFORMERS, and that’s where the sputter is in this large vehicle. None of these many plotpoints gel together very well, and the film seems to change its endgame every half-hour or so. With so much going on being supported by way too many characters, it’s difficult to latch onto anything, and the word bloated comes to mind a lot. The payoff to the moving around of all the characters and sub-plots are the greatly realized battle and chase scenes, but it feels like it takes an unnecessarily long time to get there.
While director Michael Bay is struggling to find a focus, he succeeds in creating a gorgeous looking film. The setpieces, ranging from cities to the countryside to urban America, are stunning to look at. The fighting robots and their transformations into vehicles are once again greatly realized, and the battle and fight scenes keep the heart pounding at all times. All of Bay’s trademarks are present; hot cars, hotter women, in-your-face patriotism, over-the-top characters and some misplaced juvenile humor…most of which work but the misfires do miss badly. Steve Jablonsky’s score is very disappointing; it sounds very generic, lacks a signature, and only once does it bring back the familiar theme from the previous films.

Most of the characters are two-dimensional so it’s actually remarkable that the cast does as well as they do. Mark Wahlberg and Stanly Tucci are in top form, and Kelsey Grammer may have found a home as a ruthless villain. Young Nicola Peltz is a pleasant surprise, and she is joined by an annoying Jack Reynor who plays her boyfriend. Reynor doesn’t fare too well and the film easily could have done without him. Peter Cullen is once again magnificent behind the voice of Optimus, and Ken Watanabe and John Goodman (!) turn in spectacular voice-performances as well.
By the time the finale has rolled around, Bay has beaten us over the head with so much sound and fury that it’s easy to forget exactly what everyone is fighting for or even what continent things are taking place on. AGE OF EXTINCTION is bloated in its story, thin on character, but fantastic in its grand spectacle and execution of lights and sound. Refining the relentless approach would have been the best idea to have.


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.