Transformers: Age of Extinction
dir Michael Bay
scr Ehren Kruger
prd Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Don Murphy, Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto
with Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, Li Bingbing, TJ Miller, Thomas Lennon, James Bachman, Richard Riehle
voices Peter Cullen, Mark Ryan, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe
release US 27.Jun.14, UK 5.Jul.14
14/US Paramount 2h45
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Taken for a ride: Reynor and Peltz

wahlberg tucci grammer
See also:
Dark of the Moon (2011) The Last Knight (2017)
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Transformers: Age of Extinction Never one to worry about character or plot coherence, Michael Bay forges on with his Transformers saga, a series of metal-on-metal battles aimed only at little boys and childish men. There's plenty of potential for broader entertainment (see the 2007 original), but Bay has become obsessed with cacophonous effects mayhem.

In rural Texas, single-dad inventor Cade (Wahlberg) is unaware that his 17-year-old daughter Tessa (Peltz) has broken his no-boyfriends rule and hooked up with 20-year-old Shane (Reynor). Lucky for them, Shane is an expert driver who helps them escape when an old truck Cade found turns out to be Optimus Prime (Cullen), and black ops agents under the command of power-mad CIA director Attinger (Grammer) move in. From a battle in Chicago, they follow a billionaire inventor Joshua (Tucci) to China for further fighting between the good Autobots, evil Lockdown (Ryan) and resuscitated back-up on both sides.

A prolog shows the Transformer-related reason dinosaurs are extinct before leaping ahead to the present for some cursory character development, as well as some comic relief from the terrific Miller (and later Tucci). But the dialog is little more than a running commentary to help viewers keep track of which robot is bashing which. And frankly, it would be utter gibberish without someone shouting, "Look! That's Optimus Prime!" Because Transformers all look alike to mere earthlings.

Bay directs this as if it's the most important story in human history, enforced with Steve Jablonsky's bombastic score. Effects are sharp and suitably clanky, hilariously tossing humans around like plastic action figures (who are of course never injured). But it's impossible to miss Bay's relentless misogyny. Peltz may get some plucky action scenes, but she's introduced with an extreme close-up on her micro cut-offs as Wahlberg complains about how short they are. Myles and Li may be tough, but they're victims of constant sexual harassment that's treated as witty banter.

Meanwhile, the film also has the whiff of a Wahlberg vanity project, as he's the only person who gets to do anything properly heroic, while everyone else quivers or cracks jokes. Even acclaimed rising-star Reynor is strangely sidelined. But the real problem is that this is essentially a child's movie bloated into a nearly three-hour explosion of destructive violence. It's loud and cool-looking, but never remotely thrilling.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 7.Jul.14

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