Is there anything that’s new to be written about the Transformers movie franchise that hasn’t been put to computer screen before?
The keyboard clacking of the words “messy,” “loud” and “incoherent” can only be used so often to describe Michael Bay’s adaptation of the Hasbro cartoon series from the 1980s. And now comes Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, which opens Friday (June 28).
So how is it? Messier, louder and more incoherent if that’s possible. There had been hopes that a change of cast – adding Mark Wahlberg, jettisoning Shia LaBeouf – might inject some life into a series of films more concerned with unleashing mayhem and destruction on the screen as opposed to telling a story.
Don’t be surprised if while enduring this flick – for those who attend – if you turn to a companion and utter the words “what the hell is going on now.” The cast changes with Wahlberg as Cade Yaeger, a young widower and would be inventor trying to do what’s right by his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz) do little to help this franchise.
At this stage of his life Cade’s a glorified junkman, but a scrap excursion leads him an old semi-truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime, leader of the now-hunted Autobots.
Since the Autobots last joined with humans to save the world, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) the director of the CIA and Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) joined forces to decode the technology and DNA behind what makes the Autobots who they are. Their mutual goal – dominance and wealth by any means necessary and that includes hunting former allies.
No one goes into one of these movies expecting to be blown away by the writing, but a little more story might be nice to balance the explosions and the never-ending assault on the senses. That’s not someone talking from the perspective of being too old, but rather from someone not wanting permanent eardrum damage.
As for the performances: they are what they are. Bay once again uses his human actors as mere props in his grand adventure. They merely have to look scared, try to be funny or play heroic and they collect a big paycheck.
Let’s face it; the real stars here come in the form of giant robots. They are the film’s saving grace because if nothing else the visual effects are more impressive this time around. They possess a level of realism that wasn’t there back in 2007 with the original film in the series. In that regard, there’s little issue to take.
But F/X do not make a movie and Michael Bay continues to bet that audiences will be more worried about the robots on screen than anything else. The fact that he’s made four Transformers movies with a fifth being given the go ahead tells movie audiences that he’s right. That, however, isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Movie: Transformers: Age of Extinction
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tuccit
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Running time: 165 minutes
George’s rating: 2-of-5 stars
Check for theaters and showtimes at Atlas Cinemas, Cleveland Cinemas, Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com