For Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the great Roger Ebert wrote – in a fine example of restraint, ‘If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.’ For Transformers: Age of Extinction, allow the kid and the choir about an extra fifteen minutes, subtract Shia LaBeouf and add Mark Wahlberg and Dinobots. It wouldn’t hurt to have a little extra seat padding, either. Only the noise kept me from dropping off…
Mr. Ebert also famously noted that ‘no great movie is too long but no bad movie is ever short enough.’ Michael Bay clearly thinks Age of Extinction is a great movie. My mileage differed considerably.
It’s been five years since the Battle of Chicago. A government subsidized tech company has replicated Autobot and Decepticon technology by linking the heads of the dead Megatron and other fallen Transformers and built ‘upgraded’ versions of Optimus Prime, Stingray, et al.
Meanwhile poor but thisclosetobrilliant engineer Cade Yeager (Wahlberg), who grinds out a meager living by doing repairs and making not-quite-perfected inventions finds an old truck and hauls to home – to the disgust of his daughter Tessa (Nicola Pelz) – and, with the help of his old friend Lucas (T.J. Miller), tries to fix it up to make enough money to send Tessa to college. The truck, of course, is Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen).
Meanwhile, a discovery in the Arctic, by Darcy Tirrel, has (literally) earth-shaking implications. Also, the head guy at KSI (that tech firm I mentioned earlier), Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), has made the discoveries he’s made because for head of CIA black ops, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) has supplied him with dead Transformers (some of whose killings were orchestrated by him – very illegally).
Attinger has an ally from the stars, Lockdown (Mark Ryan), who is hunting Optimus because their creators are very unhappy with him. In return for Attinger’s help, Lockdown gives him a Seed – the use of which is diametrically opposed to its benign designation.
There are a lot more plot arcs and plot points in Age of Extinction – none of which serve any other purpose than to set gunfights with alien weaponry and blow the hell out of $#!+. All the characters are drawn in the broadest possible strokes with as little actual personality as possible. The result is pretty boring.
In what can only be an unintentional, but classic, bit of irony, an Autobot called Hound (John Goodman) – who looks like a metallic version of Sgt. Fury circa The Howling Commandos, down to artificial stogie – says, ‘This is a bad idea and I’m all about bad ideas.’
Other than some lovely 3D, I can’t find much to say about Age of Extinction that Hound and Mr. Ebert haven’t already said. The best part of the screening I attended, this afternoon, was the trailer for Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which, I’m almost certain, feature what will come to be known as the best bits of that movie.
On the Big Drink Scale, I ran out of Diet Coke with over half an hour to go. So, yeah, just no.
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Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures