VAPID, REPETITIVE “TRANSFORMERS” ON THE VERGE OF EXTINCTION
A Film Review by Tim Riley
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Rated PG-13) With the proliferation of sequels that allow the Hollywood film industry to not even break a sweat, it’s hardly a surprise that director Michael Bay, whose affinity for explosions is unsurpassed by anyone else, has churned out yet another “Transformers” movie.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is the fourth film in the franchise and the first one not to star Shia LaBeouf, whose legal troubles seem to be mounting by the day. Fittingly, on the eve of the film’s release, he was arrested for disorderly conduct during a Broadway show. Though LaBeouf is missing, disorder appears to be the modus operandi of director Bay, seeing how he loves to blow things up with wild abandon. The franchise has turned into a surfeit of CGI-generated explosions and an orgy of destruction of everything in the path of giant robots.
The whole volatile premise is so overworked that the incessant clash of robots and the crunching of metal are just too much for anyone with a pulse to endure. This is the type of mindless, idiotic nonsense that not only dulls the mind but causes one to lose brain cells. Okay, so LaBeouf is out, and so is Megan Fox. At least on the distaff side, Bay finds another hottie in Nicola Peltz’s Tessa Yeager, a high school senior who favors very brief shorts and whose single father Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is a besieged inventor of robots working out of a barn on his rural Texas homestead.
Struggling to keep his property from being foreclosed, Cade is unable to resist buying an old semi truck rusting inside an abandoned theatre. Carefully restoring the vehicle, with the help of his friend Lucas (T.J. Miller), Cade discovers that he has unearthed Optimus Prime. For the uninitiated, Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots, the good aliens who helped the human race to fight off the Decepticons, the aliens whose only goal is apparently to rid our entire planet of any human existence.
In any case, if you don’t know the difference between an Autobot and a Decepticon, this would be the moment to forget any thought of seeing this movie and perhaps consider catching an indie film that likely no more than a few dozen will ever watch. Better yet, just stay at home. Meanwhile, creepy CIA honcho Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), assisted by his even creepier henchman Jases Savoy (Titus Welliver), has teamed up with a Decepticon named Lock
Down to hunt down the Autobots, looking for spare parts that can be sold to a sleazy industrialist. The film’s most interesting character is Stanley Tucci’s Joshua Joyce, CEO of Kinetic Sciences Institute, an industrial plant that is trying to replicate the giant alien robots, ostensibly for more benevolent purposes, but likely not, considering the shadowy figures lurking about.
One reason that Tucci’s Joshua is fascinating is that he has the best lines, mostly ones that provide comic relief to a story that becomes increasingly dull. To his credit, Tucci can come across as both pompous and ridiculous.
On the other hand, Wahlberg’s Cade has little to do other than to be an overprotective father. Boy, he gets a rude awakening when he meets her secret Irish boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor), a more worldly character but one who proves handy for his race car driving skills.
The best car chase sequence comes fairly early when the Yeagar family, with Shane driving his sporty car, eludes the elite, deadly CIA commando squad that swoops down on the Texas ranch like the assault on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas. The Yeagers and Shane end up in Chicago, which was pretty much annihilated in the last “Transformers” movie. The search is for Optimus Prime’s fellow Autobots, and again
destruction follows. Hasn’t Chicago suffered enough from Michael Bay and the fact that Cubs haven’t won a World Series in more than a century? At Joshua’s KSI complex, faceless scientists in white lab coats are busy creating a robot named Galvatron, and when Optimus Prime and his fellow bots show up, chaos and mayhem rule the day.
The scene shifts to China and Hong Kong (I already lost track of the transition), and more bedlam and disorder become the norm as robots engage in more destruction. At this point, one must stifle the inevitable yawns as the dull action becomes more repetitive.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is aimed at slack-jawed adolescents that spend all of their free time (or is it all the time?) watching violent video games or playing pinball machines in an arcade.
Unfortunately for the vestiges of intelligent life that still remain, there are more “Transformer” movies to come, and I can only hope that I may be on an extended overseas vacation at the time, sparing myself the agony of losing three hours of my life that are forever lost.