Criticise Michael Bay all you want, but it’s an indisputable fact at this stage that he knows how to make a successful blockbuster. While universally destroyed by reviewers, the latest installment of the Transformers franchise, despite what you may read in most places, isn’t all bad, and it’s director has at least tried to out-do himself when it comes to spectacle and sun-kissed action.
It’s been several years since the attack on Chicago, a thinly veiled 9/11 metaphor, the fallout of which means that the CIA, led by agent Harold Attinger (Grammer), has made it their goal to rid the planet of the Transformer terrorist threat. In league with an entrepreneur Joshua Joyce (Tucci, fantastically hamming it up ), the plan is simple – round up the Autobots and Decepticons, “decommission” them, and then melt down the husks to extract a new high-tech metal called “Transformium.”
In the meantime, engineer and inventor Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) is struggling to raise his teen daughter Tessa while making a go of a salvage and repair business. When he comes across an abandoned truck, he believes he’s discovered something important. When it turns out to be Optimus Prime in hiding, things go from dull to dangerous for the Yeager family. Throw into the mix Tessa’s car-racing boyfriend (our own Jack Reynor), a discovery that changes the science regarding the extinction of the dinosaurs, and a new threat from an intergalactic mercenary intent on finding something called “the Seed”.
While the general public continue to consistently make Michael Bay’s cinematic monstrosities equally gargantuan hits, there’s no need for a critical conversation; no requirement to point out plot holes or continuity errors. Audiences still lap up the bombastic action sequences that overshadow any attempts at characterization or a decent narrative. That being said the latest entry, Age of Extinction, is rarely boring. Bay relentlessly crams his frame full of visual overkill and eye-popping iconography. When the giant alien robots fight, everything is all right. The problem with the movie is very much with the human characters.
Replacing the previous cast was a bold move, and one that pays off in terms of rebooting the franchise, but it’s just that there’s so much going on and so many plotlines to follow the whole thing gets very muddled and dull when the real stars aren’t on screen. The film clocks in at nearly three hours and for good chunks of it you’ll be left wishing they’d just skip to the big, noisy, metal smackdowns. And what smackdowns they are. While they’re absent for most of the running time, the Dinobots are marvellous to behold; gigantic, immensely powerful creatures that reinvigorate the action and show that Bay is a dab hand when it comes to his action packing a wallop.
Transformers; Age Of Extinction is excessively loud, dumb fun. Yes, plot gets thrown out the window in favour of explosions and very little makes sense for most of the movie; but what did you expect from a film about giant alien robot toys that turn into cars and guns?! Fans of the series will love it, and the franchise will almost certainly roll on.
(Images courtesy Collider, Empire, Paramount)