There is something I need to confess: I went to see Transformers: Age of Extinction with a preconceived idea. I had liked the first movie, enjoyed the second one a great deal and never bothered to watch the third one, so sitting through this new instalment was set to be quite a task. And then I learned, minutes before the film began, that it was going to be almost three hours long. I was trapped.
Action movies like these can be quite enjoyable. Who doesn’t like Jurassic Park? Or the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy (because that fourth one doesn’t exist in my mind)? But one could say that Michael Bay films are different, reducing the actual performances of the actors in favour of explosions and fights or fights and explosions.
Let’s not fool ourselves; Transformers 4 is not a masterpiece. It has a lot of impressive CGI set pieces, but one cannot dig deeper than that. I sat there waiting for something to happen (something other than characters running around with huge robots helping them, that is) but it’s not until the last 20 minutes that stuff really begins to matter.
This instalment of the saga begins with the aftermath of the Chicago war that apparently took place in the previous film. Autobots are being eliminated, while Optimus Prime is laying low, until inventor Cade Yeager finds him and… You know what? I’m not entirely sure what the plot was about. It came to a point where all I could see in front of me was a bunch of fights and robots jumping up and down, making things explode. Did I mention more than one character dies due to an explosion?
Granted, Michael Bay creates movies that he likes and he is good at, which involves over-the-top action sequences with devastating consequences that seem implausible. It is a shame that this aspect of the movie widely overshadows the performances of the actors. We all know Mark Wahlberg is actually a talented thespian, but there is no way to appreciate that here, the same way Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer have only tiny moments to shine before being completely crushed by the ambitious, plot-less action set pieces. And surely, young actors Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor could have a bright future ahead of them in Hollywood, but all they do here is run around -and in the case of Peltz, like every girl in a Bay film, run scared, scream and cry for help, because Bay girls are incapable of doing anything by themselves. I found myself wanting to slap her in the face more than once because of her stupidity. Man, was she a moron.
The only thing about the plot that I understood and found “somewhat” interesting is that the Transformers (don’t ask me which type) were responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Sure, why not?
It is actually an original premise, and it serves to set the rest of the story, because Wahlberg and Co. spend the entire three hours trying to prevent the same fate from happening again, only this time to the human race. See? That is the part of the plot that I understood.
It is difficult to watch a hundred-and-sixty-five minute long movie and remember specific moments over the general plot, but since this one is so vague and unimportant thanks to the sweeping action scenes, I can say that the best part of the movie starts when all the characters go to Hong Kong (for reasons I didn’t quite understand). The film takes a break from all the madness that has witnessed before and allows itself to have some fun, thanks mostly to Stanley Tucci, who gets ten straight minutes of spotlight that I found more riveting than anything else that had happened in the previous two hours. He provides a comic relief that has nothing to do with the jokes that Wahlberg and the kids utter, making me wish that Age of Extinction had been all about him. I would be writing a very different review.
Those moments in Hong Kong might be the only ones that justify the Michael Bay visual madness, adding some more Transformers (dinosaurs, I might add) to the imagery and moving the plot forwards, otherwise I’d still be sitting at the cinema watching fancy cars kill each other and ride spaceships and/or dinosaurs.
Michael Bay has invested a lot of money in this film, so it is understandable that he wants to show it off. If you got it, flaunt it, and he clearly lives by this motto. Subtlety has never been a strong suit to an excess lover like him, so if the entire meaning of the movie has to be sacrificed in favour of fireworks, girls with immaculate white clothes and inexplicably orange tans and cities being burned to the ground, so be it, but those are three hours of my life that I will never get back. And I missed the last train home because of it, so thank you, Michael Bay.
If someone could tell me his address, I’d like to pay him a visit to thank him in person.