4-10 July 2014 #714

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Sophia Pande

Why do we watch bad action movies? Not all of us do, but personally I feel compelled to watch the summer blockbuster extravaganza of the year because of the faint hope in my heart that it will dodge the usual pitfalls of one dimensional characters, dreadful jokes, wildly outlandish end of the world scenarios, and redeem itself by somehow developing new ground-breaking action scenes.

The fourth installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise is quite frankly rather bad. It is too long, generally banal, and the Transformers are mostly annoying and unappealingly characters (except for the endearing, heroic Bumblebee and the always magnificent Optimus Prime).

Mark Wahlberg as the lead character Cade Yeager manages to retain a little gravitas as he runs, jumps, wields an alien saber, and tries to rescue Tessa (Nicola Peltz) his blonde, long-legged, daughter (thankfully she appears to have brains, just enough to not infuriate the viewer). Stanley Tucci almost saves the film in his role as Joshua Joyce, a brilliant inventor who has strayed a little from the righteous path - but in general this film is exactly the kind of pulp the Hollywood mill churns out year after year shamelessly raking in hundreds millions in the process.

Bay admits to making his films for teenage boys. Indeed, why not, the world is full of teenage boys needing to be entertained. Unfortunately, in addition to being self-indulgent the hapless Bay is “stunningly, almost viciously, untalented” to quote David Denby, the veteran film critic at the hallowed New Yorker. While this is pretty scathing I couldn’t agree more.

It is absolutely fine to defend the films you make - however that doesn’t make you a better filmmaker. Bay’s ability to intersperse his interminably boring films with bursts of action packed frenzy almost make his films worth watching. But more often than not the sequences leave the viewers, especially in these days of 3D, feeling outright nauseous and even more spatially confused.

So why write about such a film in the ‘Must See’ column? It’s altruistic, to help those poor souls (myself included) who feel irresistibly drawn to the theater despite their instinctive hesitation. We know the film is going to be awful and yet we go.

Readers beware, this is a bad and overly long film. The villains are annoying, the plot preposterous, the characters border on the verge of repellant, and the action is not good enough to withstand the general mediocrity. Filmmakers targeting teenage boys take note; you can do better, so much better.

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