by Bob Garver
June 30, 2014. “Transformers” was the single worst movie of 2007. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was the single worst movie of 2009. “Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon” broke the pattern and was not the single worst movie of 2011 (thanks a lot, “Sanctum,” “The Smurfs” and “Playing for Keeps”). Now comes “Transformers: Age of Extinction” which gets the franchise right back on track, as it is now and is likely to remain the single worst movie of 2014.
We’re thankfully done with Shia LaBeouf as our main human character. In his place is a lowly Texas tinkerer played by Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg is charming enough that I didn’t spend the whole movie hoping a Transformer would topple over and crush him, which is more than I can say for LaBeouf.
The Wahlberg character has an assistant played by TJ Miller and a daughter played by Nicola Peltz. The daughter has a boyfriend played by Jack Reynor. The group is eventually joined by an industrialist played by Stanley Tucci. All these characters take turns being “The Whiny One” and I found myself wishing blunt metal fists on the lot of them.
Wahlberg finds himself in the middle of a war between good-guy Autobots led by Optimus Prime and evil government agents. This turns out to be just a smoke screen for an attack by an evil Transformer called Lockdown. Lockdown gets help from some reincarnated Decepticons, the Autobots enlist the help of some long-thought-dead Dinobots and there’s a big showdown in Hong Kong. Needless to say, the fate of humanity lies in the balance.
The non-action scenes are garbage as always. The characters’ decisions make no sense except as an excuse to set up action sequences or create conflict for the sake of conflict. The humans don’t behave like relatable humans and the Transformers’ bickering is unbecoming of giant alien robots. As for the dialogue, any attempts at tenderness of profundity are laughable and any attempts to get laughs are hopeless. The film once again makes the mistake of playing to teenagers who like PG-13 humor instead of the toy-buying kid audience that they’re supposed to be targeting.
Then there are the action scenes. So much money was clearly spent on them, and somehow they still look cheap. The dinosaurs we see at the beginning of the film are composed of unconvincing CGI. Backgrounds and scenery are lifeless as the actors have negative chemistry with the green screens. The Transformers are supposed to be both robots and aliens. I say they’re neither; they’re just really bad cartons. They thrash around without much gravity, landing with those infamous metallic whoosh sounds instead of proper crashing. On top of all this, the sequences are poorly edited. I saw a minor character running away from a danger zone in Hong Kong and I didn’t even know she was in the country.
Perhaps the best word to describe the action scenes is “numbing.” You like shooting? There’s so much shooting you’ll get bored with it. You like fighting? There’s way too much of that as well. How about explosions? This is a Michael Bay film. There are going to be explosions. The film is 165 minutes. Without explosions I don’t think it would qualify as feature length. A few weeks ago I complained about “Godzilla” not delivering on its potential for action. This movie has the opposite problem. It’s hard to find the action scenes (especially these action scenes) interesting when they’re all you’ve been watching for what feels like forever.
I actually think that people who liked the other “Transformers” movies are going to like “Age of Extinction.” Whatever those movies did to get people to like them, there’s more of it here. But for people like me who already despise the “Transformers” franchise, “Age of Extinction” is quite possibly the biggest piece of junk yet.
One star out of five.