Thursday, July 24, 2014     Volume: 28, Issue: 52
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New Times / Film

This weeks review
22 JUMP STREET
A MOST WANTED MAN
AMERICA
AND SO IT GOES
BEGIN AGAIN
CHEF
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
HERCULES
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
JERSEY BOYS
LIFE ITSELF
LUCY
MALEFICENT
PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE
SNOWPIERCER
TAMMY
THE GRAND SEDUCTION
THE PURGE: ANARCHY
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

PHOTO BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION


Where is it playing?: Stadium 10 (in 2-D)

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $5.00

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

Director Michael Bay (Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys II, The Island, Pain & Gain) is back with the fourth film in his Transformers franchise after Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), and this time around he’s jettisoned Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) as the lead protagonist in favor of Mark Wahlberg, who stars as inventor Cade Yeager, who along with his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) discovers a deactivated Optimus Prime that brings both the Autobots and Decepticons, as well as paranoid government official Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), into their lives. Meanwhile, Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), an arrogant designer, wants to create bots of his own, with potentially disastrous results. (165 min.)

Director Michael Bay (Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys II, The Island, Pain & Gain) is back with the fourth film in his Transformers franchise after Transformers (2007), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), and this time around he’s jettisoned Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) as the lead protagonist in favor of Mark Wahlberg, who stars as inventor Cade Yeager, who along with his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) discovers a deactivated Optimus Prime that brings both the Autobots and Decepticons, as well as paranoid government official Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), into their lives. Meanwhile, Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), an arrogant designer, wants to create bots of his own, with potentially disastrous results.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Should you see this new Transformers? Have you seen Michael Bay’s first three and just. loved. them? Then yes, see it. Heck, by the time you read this review, you’ve already seen it, probably twice. Did you watch the first one and find it a garish and ridiculous mess of relentlessly oppressive action sandwiched in between middling attempts at human pathos and comedy, rejecting the next two as more of the same? Then don’t see it, because that formula holds true here.

It’s five years after the attack on Chicago, and the economy is tough. Cade gets by by fixing people’s old technology while trying to invent something big that will save his farm from foreclosure. He also needs to find college money for his daughter Tessa, who’s about to graduate from high school. Instead, he borrows money from his “employee” Lucas (T.J. Miller), a comical Texas surfer dude, to buy a derelict semi truck that … yeah, turns out to be Optimus Prime. Suddenly the black SUVs and helicopters are storming his farm and his daughter is threatened.

I think we know from the Taken franchise what happens when a father’s daughter is threatened, and when Tessa’s forbidden and secret boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor), a racecar driver, shows up and tries to earn Cade’s respect, so begins another couple hours of chases, fights, and general mayhem. All told, it’s a pretty crazy ride, but at nearly three hours long, I found myself so desensitized to the brutal action that I felt bored. Therein lies the problem with a franchise like Transformers: All a sequel can do is more of the same, bigger, louder, and longer.

Films such as these certainly require much suspension of disbelief. For instance, isn’t it amazing how great Tessa, Shane, and Cade look despite their constant exertion? Part of the formula—and let’s remember the film’s target audience of 15-year-old boys—is to showcase a super hot girl. Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes was in the first two, and then Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly was the object of male fantasy for the next one. Now 19-year-old Nicola Peltz is the babe du jour. Also note that the hot girl’s love interest has to have faults and not be too tough, because the boys in the audience don’t want him to be too perfect lest they’re unable to project themselves into the role.

And to up the ante for this installment, Michael Bay needed two antagonists: Kelsey Grammer’s irredeemably evil CIA spook and Stanley Tucci’s power-mad inventor, who are in cahoots and who are both being manipulated by the Decepticons. Is it any wonder the Autobots are mistrustful of stupid humanity? Ultimately, the film’s message is that humans aren’t perfect but they are worth fighting for because they can learn from their mistakes. Isn’t that the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever heard over the ear-shattering din of almost three hours of near constant chaos? (165 min.)

—Glen Starkey