In this year’s installment of in the “did we really need another of these” series of films, Michael Bay returns the Autobots to the big screen in a triumphantly awful fashion. Several months back, after an interviewer said that Bay’s movies were for thirteen year old boys, the director replied with “so?” At the time I agreed with him: the world will always have big budget explosion-fueled blockbusters, and not all of them have to be intelligent in the plot department.
Unfortunately, Transformers: Age of Extinction didn’t really pull itself together long enough for that to work. What viewers receive is a whopping two hours and forty minutes of drawn out, bloodless, high-octane set pieces. Not all of those even worked, due to a convoluted series of events unfolding throughout the film, and one brutally awkward robot fight scene that was clearly done entirely with computer graphics on top of a single, unmoving backdrop. I’m no xenobiologist, but when a giant alien robot creature falls into a thin concrete structure at a high speed during a fight, you’d think there would be some damage left behind.
Not everything about Transformers: Age of Extinction was bad. The addition of Mark Wahlberg to the saga was a much-needed relief after three movies of Shia LeBouf shouting “no no no no no!” over and over. Instead, we get Wahlberg helping the Autobots shoot the bad guys in the junk. Stanley Tucci’s greedy scientist with a heart of gold gave some solid comedic relief and offered the film’s only character development. The absence of shaky-cam this time around was much appreciated, as it actually allowed you to see the giant alien robots fighting: you know, the entire reason for watching the movie to begin with.
Those things aside, the rest of the movie was pure slop. The runtime of the film is excruciating, thanks to the poor pacing, and some people actually left the screening well before the film was over, shaking their heads in defeat. Nicola Peltz’s character was only in the film to be repeatedly thrust into awful situations so Mark Wahlberg (playing her father) didn’t just say “screw this, I’m going home.” The best part of the film was T.J. Miller’s character, but he was barely around for the bulk of the movie.
Bay also apparently forgot all of the flak he received over the racial stereotypes in the previous films, and included an Autobot with a Japanese accent straight from a Pacific Theater War Bonds film from 1943. Ken Watanabe has a heavier accent, but boy did they have him turn that dial up to eleven. Oh yeah, by the way, Kelsey Grammer was in this movie, folks. He was an integral part of the film, but it was so long that he only had a few major scenes where he played an irredeemably awful human being.
When the credits have rolled, what you end up with is the same hot garbage as the last three Transformers films, but this time there are dinosaurs, guys! This time there are dinosaurs. Don’t go see it. Don’t even bother watching it on a sleepy Sunday morning. I doubt you’ll stay awake for the whole thing.