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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014 * * 1/2 Stars

Transformers: Age of ExtinctionDirector: Michael Bay
Year: 2014
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer

I read somewhere that director Michael Bay got his start filing storyboards for Steven Spielberg via Raiders of the Lost Ark. Cut to 2014 and he's (financially) one of the most successful filmmakers around. He isn't however critic proof because he seems totally infatuated with blowing stuff up. Between making movies, I've always been curious to know what he does in his spare time. And for the record, I would probably stay away from going to any Fourth of July parties he might be hosting.

Anyway, summer is here and that means another exhausting Transformers movie. Now I know that everyone in the free world is going to see it. But if you the moviegoer haven't bought a ticket yet, well let me give you some insight on what you're getting into. As expected, Transformers: Age of Extinction (the film I'm reviewing) is one bloated, convoluted mess of a movie. It looks like it cost about 9 billion dollars to make and it feels like a trillion special effects shots were used. One thing is missing though and that would be a sense of continuity when it comes to the workings of I guess, the plot.

Bay is up to his old tricks again for this newest Hasbro helping. As usual he deals another round of fast edits, laughably bad slow motion framing, low, non-stop camera movements (and angles), and recycled background music (with plenty of horns playing the same notes over and over). His movies may look good in HD but he's ADHD as a director.

Now the special effects as mentioned earlier, are sick (this is meant to be a compliment). "Extinction" is total and complete eye candy. But sadly, it feels like no one who worked on it bothered to step inside an editing room. Watching this newest entry from executive producer Spielberg was a chore because it was as if no scene was ever cut out. I mean, instead of viewing a full length feature film, all we get as an audience, is endless hours of randomly shot footage that is literally hurled at the screen. Transformers: Age of Extinction is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. It's 21 minutes longer than the original, 15 minutes longer than Revenge of the Fallen, and 9 minutes longer than Dark of the Moon. It ends hinting at the chance of yet another chapter in this franchise's long running cash juggernaut. So OK, if the next Transformers movie is three hours long, I'm going to lose my freaking head.

In addition to overlength and misbegotten excess, "Extinction" just like the other Transformers movies, resorts to using a ton of locations. This thing uses cities in Michigan, Texas, Utah, Illinois, and Hong Kong, China as its go-to settings. The storytelling, well don't even try to keep up with it. Broke inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter Tessa (played by newcomer Nicole Peltz) find an Autobot in their barn. That's all I'm gonna say because all heck breaks loose from then on. The government gets involved and another helping of mass destruction is served up on a silver platter. And yes, Chicago, IL once again gets somewhat destroyed and decimated here. Is it the taxes, the traffic, the Cubs, or the cold winters that get aliens so ticked off at "The Windy City?" I happen to live there so I'm gonna go with all the above.

Compared to the other two sequels (and the favorable original), I liked the cast a whole lot better this time around. Kelsey Grammer as CIA agent Harold Attinger plays the heavy with gusto. Stanley Tucci is on board as well and he gives a standard Stanley Tucci performance (which is a good thing). As for Mark Wahlberg in the lead, well he surprised me. He's a riot playing a sort of quirky, fast talking widower who's overly protective of his daughter. In fact, Wahlberg is so darn appealing that in only one of these films, he's able to out act Shia LaBeouf who appeared in the previous three. Check that Shia La "Bad" (Oh and I almost forgot, Mark Wahlberg's character is from Texas but he has no southern drawl or accent. It's merely an observation and not a big deal).

Overall, I'm gonna give this vehicle a mixed review which is being pretty nice to Sir Michael Bay. Go see it for the sumptuous visuals and load up on the popcorn. Oh and I think I got the title for the next installment. Let's go with Transformers: The Musical (just kidding).

Of note: the battles between the Decepticons and Autobots (a given in Transformers pictures) are so messy and chaotic, you can't tell who is fighting who. At one point, I thought the Autobots were fighting their own kind and you know, that's not a good thing. And watch for famed actor John Goodman doing a voice of one of the Transformers named Hound. His overweight, bearded character is a downright hoot. At one point, he calls himself a "badass ballerina." Uh-huh.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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