Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, Li Bingbing, T.J. Miller, James Bachman, Thomas Lennon, Charles Parnell
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Directed by: Michael Bay
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Running Time: 165
Date: 06/27/2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

1 Star (out of 4)

'Bot Flashes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Michael Bay has done it again. He has made an absolutely horrible Transformers movie, much the same as the three previous horrible Transformers movies -- Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) -- except that he has made it bigger, louder, and -- heaven help us -- much longer. He has had too much encouragement; why try anything different when the series has so far grossed almost $3 billion worldwide?

Transformers: Age of Extinction starts with a ridiculous story, with evil humans, evil robots, good humans, good robots, and a "seed" that could generate more robots while wiping out humanity. Much of humanity is destroyed anyway.

An inventor (Mark Wahlberg) who has an unhealthy "mother hen" obsession with his skinny teen model daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), finds and repairs Optimus Prime. This leads to a global chase and shootout, also involving Tessa's secret boyfriend (T.J. Miller), and a clueless billionaire (Stanley Tucci).

Stuck with this story, and its equally inane dialogue, the poor actors are typically lost, with no humanity to grab onto. In this series, Bay generally misuses real talent, like John Malkovich, Jon Voight, and John Turturro, while preferring the presence of simple supermodels like Peltz or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley; they're more like special effects that he can control.

The only good news is that, as with the previous films, the general noise of the soundtrack frequently drowns out the conversation.

Sometimes film critics speak of directors who "always know where to put the camera." Bay is the exact opposite. In the movie's first few minutes, Tessa goes to the mailbox, where Bay provides a lot of activity but very little information as to what she's doing there, and the simple scene becomes confusing and aggravating.

And so it goes. Just imagine how the bigger, more complex scenes play. As always, the giant robots all look the same, with only careless cultural stereotyping to differentiate them, and it's difficult to tell who's winning or losing in any given fight. There's no sense of rhythm, space, or timing in any single shot anywhere in the movie. It's just noise, color and movement. It's like a "Baby Einstein" video for teens, but infinitely louder and dumber. And so very, very long.

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