I wish these robots would have stayed hidden. Please Michael Bay, enough is enough. Turn in and allow the Transformers cartoon to shine as the greatest representation of this story. Once again, an exercise in extremes and over excess derails a potentially fun time at the movies here in the summer season.
I won’t make the mistake of complaining about story development or the strength of a tale in a Michael Bay production, because when it comes to summer action and Bay explosions all bets are off as far as the composition is concerned. I will say this. Transformers 4: Age of Extinction is tired old junk that gets repetitive very fast, like around the 90 minute mark. The one thing that Bay has never championed in this racket of filmmaking is allowing an editor to make solid cuts to your film. This movie is too long and full of the same old fights between robots that we once loved and now get an odd feeling in our brain when we see on screen for nearly 3 hours. That’s right. Bay’s latest Robot flick is 2 hours and 45 minutes long, or roughly the same length of Oscar Winner Schneidler’s List.
The cinematography is very well done and Mark Wahlberg adds loads of credibility as the hero at the center of the tale, but the dialogue is absolutely horrible. Co-star Stanley Tucci seems to be in on the joke as the big billionaire CEO trying to create his own army of robots until he realizes that..uh oh..innocent people may be killed. Tucci has a load of fun with dialogue that may as well be written by Bay’s son with a few crayons at daycare one day. Tucci, a wonderful character actor who gets to wear 5 piece rich looking suits for the duration of the film, gets it! I am in a shitty film so let’s laugh and have fun. He should have lent a fair measure of that sense of humor to Kelsey Grammar, who looks as stern and stiff as a piece of lumber playing an old government lion who doesn’t mind killing people if it makes him rich.
The rest of the cast is by the numbers with no punch. T.J. Miller shows up for a few scenes and adds some comedy. There is an Irish sounding dude named Jack Brayton who gets annoying after 5 lines of dialogue. Wahlberg’s daughter in the film is just your generic pretty blonde who can scream and look distressed very well. Titus Wellever has some fun as a bad guy who wears black, talks mean and has evil silver locks of hair to confirm his menace.
I grew up on the heroic and dynamite voicing of Optimus Prime by the gifted voice actor Peter Cullen. The first Bay/Transformers film was great for me because for the first time I saw my childhood heroes in live action kicking ass and taking names and Cullen’s voicing was superb. In this film, Cullen even seems tired and detached, making for a very different Prime. If you know the cartoons and what this leader stands for, this film will make you feel uneasy. Prime has always deemed hurting humans to not be an option, but due to some hardship he now says I am going to kill that guy when I find him at one point in the film. This is a bleak Optimus Prime and it didn’t sit right.
Megatron sort of shows up, but it’s an add on and tacky and so fleeting that it never adds any punch to the legendary duel with Prime. Robot dinosaurs show up. John Goodman voices a hillbilly shotgun toting robot and Ken Watanabe is a Samurai robot. Mark Ryan’s villainous Lockdown makes for some fine moments but overall doesn’t leave a mark.
Consider this. The best scene of the film came when two humans fought each other and for a robot film, that just isn’t right or noteworthy. There is a difference between tongue in cheek fun and overblown action. Bay simply can’t find it.
The story is extremely clunky even for a Transformers film. It’s ridiculous beyond ridiculous and gave me a headache. The special effects are excellent but that isn’t enough. Optimus riding a dinosaur through a city with a sword in his hand was supposed to be awesome and when it finally arrives, I had to check my watch first. One can only see Bumblebee(the Camaro clad hero robot) jump from one building and save our human heroes so many times before it gets repetitive. That’s the main problem with Bay’s films. They are simply too damn long to admire or like. In the end, it’s just too much.
Four films. Around 9 hours of screen time. Still, Michael Bay just doesn’t get it. You don’t have to blow everything up or shove a boring speech about honor and pride into every other scene to make a good Transformers film. A quiet moment between Wahlberg and Prime about legacy doesn’t produce much when it’s sandwiched inside 41 similar action sequences.
I used to think finding a different writer and director would help Transformers and the viewing public. Now, I am happy to report that The Age of Extinction for these robots may be the best thing.
I will advise you to skip this movie and instead sit down and watch the original cartoon with the kids. That is time well spent.