Film Review – Transformers – Age of Extinction.
Here we go with Michael Bay’s bombastic 4th Transformers effort.
Based on the ridiculously popular toy range that are both robots and vehicles that first debuted in 1984.
With the toy line’s history marked by creative peaks and shallow troughs, it should make sense then that the film franchise also experiences swings and roundabouts.
With the first Transformers film in 2007, new life was breathed into the beloved toy and with a $150 million budget, it’s 700+ million worldwide box office haul guaranteed that the idea of transforming robots would stick around for another couple of generations.
There was something charming about the Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox vehicle and its dazzling SFX and retro kitsch gave the film a sense of occasion.
With each passing title however the charm has lessened.
Now into its 4th feature film, and with a new lead actor Mark Wahlberg, Bay has thrown out anything charming and opted instead to dazzle us with incredible SFX and three bolted on plot lines.
Wahlberg as the father to 17-year-old blah.
Stanley Tucci as the billionaire inventor held to ransom by his ego and the CIA and in the films third act the fiendish Galvatron (who turns out to really be Megatron in disguise).
And Lastly the happenings of the alien robots themselves and the backstory about how they came to be involved with Earth’s population in the first place.
It’s a convoluted affair and primarily pointless.
For, like it’s similarly glitzy genre peer of pornography we only want to watch these films for the pictures.
The entire preamble is just a tease to build towards the main act.
And when the main act of Robot on Robot action finally takes place, it’s a showstopper.
Unfortunately in between the big battle sequences we are subjected to all manner of Bay’s trademark jingoistic nonsense.
From American Flags in the background of shots, to the creepy way the camera focuses on Wahlberg’s teenage daughter to the abundance of phallic shaped weapons and objects strewn throughout the film’s landscape, it all makes Transformers 4 a testosterone fueled misogynists’ wet dream.
Chuck in some themes about government interference and questions about what level of sacrifice is acceptable to keep us safe and there’s too much going on in this noisy mess to make it enjoyable.
And every time I thought about getting up and giving in, an incredible sequence of stunning visuals would unfold to keep me glued in awe to the huge screen.
Given I was slightly delirious from jetlag having flown into Australia from the USA the morning I saw the film, and the fact that after 4 weeks in America I was a little repulsed by the nation’s notion that bigger is better, in everything from motor vehicles, to highways to meals servings and soft drinks, I was weary of this vision of American utopia thrust upon me by Bay and his team.
Just as Axl Rose did nobody any favours by making Chinese Democracy bigger, longer and more expensive, Bay has given us almost 180 minutes of noisy flag waving, robot distractions.
1984 was a great year for Robots.
Not only did James Cameron deliver his brilliant apocalyptic vision of the future with Terminator, but also the world was introduced to the transformer – a line of toys that were both a robot and a vehicle – a little boys’ two favourite things.
Fast forward 30 years and both ideas have spawned four feature films.
But with the terminator quadrilogy taking place over 30 years and with X directors, Transformers have belched out four films since 2007 all under the helm of Michael bay – not the most subtle director in Hollywood.
Like the victim of any botched execution – Transformers ultimately dies a long slow painful death.
Genre films, whether they be martial arts of pornography, or transforming robots should do what they d best stick to the theme and stray little from the path…
Unlike the Lego movie, which was even better than the toy, in this case it’s the plastic that is fantastic.