Transformers: Age of Extinction
Written by Ehren Kruger
Directed by Michael Bay
Opens June 27
Country: USA Language English
How often can Hollywood expect people to pay to watch piles of metal fighting and exploding? Simple question. I sawT4 in a packed screening and at the end the kids cheered, no doubt because finally there was a clear win and lose and the thing was finally over. These kids were seeing the film free of charge and there were prize packs to be won. I wonder if anyone would cheer in a regular screening, or would they be more likely exhausted, drained, bored, annoyed and keen to get away from the din of its charmless, debauched destruction porn?
Michael Bay has created something new and awful, the fourth in the ultra-rich franchise based on a Hasbro toy, determined to destroy sense and logic once again. It is nearly toxic, a three hour assault on the senses with so little on its mind, so little to offer us. At first it’s passingly fun. Bay’s fevered dream is in part, sweetly sentimental and human and rural, for that matter. But once it heats up, it’s little more than a broken bleak future of noise and deconstruction, metal and might, explosions and stereotypes, an expensive jumble of imagery and nonsensical dialogue that depletes us.
Thank God for Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz who plays his daughter. They are the sole redeeming elements of this mess – to a degree. They are father and daughter on the verge of losing their idyllic farm when they unwittingly bring an illegal transformer onto their property, attracting the attention of the government and greedy industrialists. Then the battle between the bots and whatever. Two and a half hours of pointless sound and fury.
Wahlberg knows its crap but he gives it all he’s got because he has a solid work ethic and cares about his reputation as a team worker. Peltz is strong, a real presence with star power, but naturally, as the plot moves forward the writer forgets about her and just gives her screams and moans as the damsel in distress. The voice acting is underserved by surprisingly bad tech. It’s a jumbled, incomprehensible mess.
Deathless prose from all, human and bot alike is unintentionally hilarious, when you can understand it, or at least mildly diverting. “My face is the warrant!” I can’t remember any more of these chortle-worthy lines because my brain was put into a blender for three hours. But I do remember feeling that we and Hollywood are doomed. This is the kind of stuff at which is throws money – proven formulas. T4 will no doubt be one of the biggest films of the summer and it’s not worth five cents in creativity, authenticity, humanity or depth. At least these films are expensive so they don’t come out too often.
Because this is one of the worst films in living memory. It insults us.
The franchise is freakishly popular. How much of the box office comes from the frenzy that creates mass hypnosis and suckers ticket buyers? How are people expected to like this kind of dreck? Do kids agree on what’s cool and then subject themselves to the party line and go see this and then lie about how great it was? Peer pressure? Or is this the kind of artistic sensibility that results from two generations of video game playing?
At least there are nice beauty shots of Monument Valley, Hong Kong, China, wherever they shot the Arctic scenes and good old US of A farmland. And I like Mark Wahlberg. And that’s as far as it goes.