Cinema Siren is a huge fan of macho movies full of explosions, disaster, and races against the destruction of all mankind. My predilection towards mutants and men in latex is well documented.
Some think of Michael Bay as the directorial equivalent of the Bubonic plague, to be avoided at all costs. As with any critic worth reading, I walked in to Transformers: The Age of Extinction with an open mind, prepared to praise him for creating an action film so full of excitement, the audience was entertained for the full two hours and forty five minutes. Instead, disappointment and bafflement in the first half hour turned sour in the second.
Potential audiences of all stripes be warned: time spent watching Transformers: The Age of Extinction will feel like an age, and by the second hour, you’ll pray for extinction.
Even those action fans who regularly exercise their mayhem muscles will find better use of their well worn Transformers enthusiasm in a viewing of X-Men: Days of Future Past, How To Train Your Dragon 2, or Edge of Tomorrow, all of which are far better films and deserving of your support. This Transformers movie should be relegated to the junk heap without a second look.
The rather convoluted story begins by bouncing around time and space every few minutes without segue or explanation, first to a possible new reason for why the dinosaur disappeared, then to the introduction of a Steve Jobs-like megalomaniacal inventor (Stanley Tucci, who even in this disaster finds a way to amuse) and onward to down-and-out inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his improbably dressed and hyper-sexualized daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz, stretching her seams and acting chops to a splitting point), who takes care of him “when he forgets to eat”. Yeager buys an old truck he plans to refurbish, that turns out to be the Autobot Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). Attinger, a cliche-ridden character of an American flag-waiving ex-black ops villain (Kelsey Grammar) has made some kind of deal with the Decepticons and comes after Yaeger, his daughter, and her surprise boyfriend, the hunky testosterone-laden man-meat Shane (Jack Reynor). Cue the explosions, and a series of ever more complicated and cinematically derivative plot points.
No amount of “Cover yourself up! Those shorts are too short!” Dad jokes will make up for the fact that a girl barely of age is objectified. Rare is the time in scenes with Peltz that the camera doesn’t start its journey about three feet below and behind her. Are we to assume every single potential movie patron will prefer this gal, running in high heeled boots and pink ‘wife beaters’, screaming for help from her dad or boyfriend, to one of the many possible characters proven lately to have box office appeal: fully clothed women of brain, brawn, and fearlessness taking equal ownership of the situation and equal responsibility in finding its solution? The (exceedingly) supporting female members of the cast Sophia Myles, Bingbing Li, and Erika Fong together equal fifteen minutes of the film and even less of the story’s forward movement. Credit is due, however, to the casting of Li, who will call in bigger box office numbers in China, where much of the movie takes place. Both her casting and the choice in location is no doubt a measured decision to insure at least one country will lap up this cacophonous B-movie drivel.
Product placement may have reduced the cost of the film significantly. Notably Bud Light, Armani, and Victoria’s Secret are plastered all over the IMAX screen for what feels like minutes at a time. The last makes the most sense, as they may be responsible for supplying Nicola Peltz with her entire wardrobe.
Even after Cinema Siren has spewed all this rarely offered vitriol, perhaps you cannot be dissuaded. That being the case, let me point up the worthier aspects of the film. There is a thirty second effects-heavy sequence where an autobot is rescuing Yeager, Tessa, and Shane by tossing them repeatedly into the sky. We see them twilling like rag dolls until they are snatched into the metal bosom of their protector. This is a fun thirty seconds in a movie that lasts two hours and forty five minutes.
If you are determined to see Transformers: The Age of Extinction, here are some suggestions: Bring earplugs, medication for what may be your first experience with Restless Leg Syndrome, and a pre-1960s misogyny.
1 out of 5 stars.