Saturday 5 July 2014

Review: Transformers - Age Of Extinction

World of Blackout Film Review

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (3D) Poster

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (3D / First-Pass / Vague Spoilers)
Cert: 12A / 165 mins / Dir. Michael Bay
WoB Rating: 4/7

Fair warning: These are first thoughts, and I've been awake for 21 hours, so may contain rambling.

So Michael Bay's approach to critics who've lambasted his previous works in the Transformers canon as soulless, empty, objectifying rubbish seems to be - and sit down for this - to take no notice of them and carry on as normal. I'm not entirely sure if I admire his style or not, as even I'm getting a little tired of the formula now. Age Of Extinction is far too long for the story they've got, the film's structure is so messy as to be borderline incoherent, the humour falls flat 95% of the time, there are too many lingering shots of lens-flared sunsets and denim cutoffs, the script is largely atrocious (both in writing and delivery), the robots explain everything constantly, the humans talk but rarely explain anything, and quite frankly it's difficult to care about the characters you know, let alone the new ones.

That said, I rather enjoyed it.

Well, I rather enjoyed some of it. There were also plenty of 15 minute stretches watching cars, buildings and robots get broken for no apparent reason. There's some vague plot about a 'seed' to extinguish life and terraform the planet for the creation of robots, which is naggingly reminiscent of Prometheus. There's also a segment which seems to overtly ape the rope-bridge scene from Temple of Doom, before segueing directly into aping the Podrace sequence from The Phantom Menace. While I have no problem with in-movie homages, it'd be nice if Bay had shown more love for… well Transformers, perhaps.

Mark Wahlberg is the most troublesome aspect of the ensemble. Playing his regular role of earnest everyman, he just doesn't seem to have the heft to stand alongside animated, imaginary robots (uh-huh). Cast as the straight-man while those around him crack the jokes (badly, to be fair), this really isn't the ideal role for him. He's supported by Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor as his daughter and her suitor respectively, two roles which are even more forgettable and unengaging than Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely's in this film's predecessor. The only humans who appear to be having any amount of fun chewing the scenery are Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer, and even then it feels like 'a paycheck'.

But y'know what? When I saw Prime as his Freightliner FL86 incarnation, and when he lays down the law to the Dinobots, jumps on Grimlock's back and charges into battle, sword aloft? I grinned like an idiot. But with previous installments of the franchise, I grinned like that a hell of a lot more. The Dinobots are the best and most underused part of Age of Extinction.

With different writing and direction this film could have been magnificent, but sadly it never rises above 'good' - and even then it's not a constant level it can maintain. It's time for Michael Bay to move back to the exec-producer's chair and let someone else play in the toybox…

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Well, the trailer doesn't really convey the tedium (if I'm being honest) of watching Chicago being destroyed. Again. For too long. Again.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Not nearly enough, I'm afraid.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Oh, probably.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
It looks gorgeous, so it's worth seeing at the flicks, if at all.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?
I will, but it may not be at the cinema I'm afraid.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Pretty sure I heard one just before the rooftop-fight in Beijing, yes.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…
^^ That's a strong four, but a four nonetheless.

And my question for YOU is…
When the 'Transformers' change from one type of object to another by first converting through a cloud of magic metallic pixels… doesn't that just sort of remove the charm, and indeed the point, of them?

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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