Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
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Nicola Peltz, Mark Wahlberg, Ken Watanabe, T.J. Miller, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Lennon, John Goodman, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, Titus Welliver, Jack Reynor, Abigail Klein, Peter Cullen, John DiMaggio, Bingbing Li, Frank Welker, Reno Wilson, Mark Ryan, Victoria Summer, Cleo King, Robert Foxworth, Michael Wong, Chanel Celaya, Geng Han, Kristin Miller White, Dan Latham, Ray Lui, Anna Li, Ray L. Perez, Ron Shedd, Lee Vang
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What's Old Is Old Still
Favorite Movie Quote: "Sweetie, get my alien gun!"
New Autobots! New Evil Transformers! (ah-Ah - mustn't use the "D" word) Dinobots! (the new "D" word) Evil Corporations! Evil Government conspiracies! And the real reason behind the extinction of the dinosaurs (we'll get back to that later). Pulse-pounding excitement? To Executive Producer and Director Michael Bay, it's a Wednesday.
TRANSFORMERS: AGE of EXTINCTION, the most successful movie franchise based on a Japanese toy line - Barbie may have more films, but has been consigned to Direct-to-DVD - is by far the loudest film this reviewer has seen this year. The film opens 64 million years ago with mechanical terraformers making way for a new order - then vanishing. The scene shifts 64 million years later to an abandoned movie theater in Texas, where single dad Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg - this reviewer will not make the blatantly obvious correlation between Wahlberg's name and another giant robot franchise) stumbles upon a dilapidated tractor trailer in the theater (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?), which he brings back to his farm, currently under foreclosure. He discovers the truck is really Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), in hiding after the War of Chicago, for the government has declared the Transformers as Enemies of the State, and are being hunted down by evil Transformer Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) and as sanctioned by evil CIA Agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), After escaping the standard-issue parade of black ops SUVs, Optimus Prime summons the Autobots not yet captured: battle-hardened, cigar-chomping war horse, Hound (voiced by John Goodman - that's right, the robot sports a stogie), sword-wielding samurai warrior, Drift (voiced by Ken Watanabe), foul-tempered Irish scrapper, Crosshairs (voiced by John DiMaggio), and fan favorite Bumblebee. After rural Texas mechanic, inventor and everyman Yeager breaks into the high-security building of tech giant KSI, he discovers the corporation's nefarious plot and deception (oops - the "D" word) being hatched by the new batch of American-made transformers (Transformers 2.0, if it were).
Story-wise, it's pretty boilerplate; the widower with his teenage daughter, Tessa (real actress, and film eye-candy Nicola Peltz, whose pedigree includes the series "Bates Motel" and The LAST AIRBENDER, but has unfortunately been demoted to damsel-in-distress) are struggling to keep their lives together, until they are thrown into a world calamity. Along For the ride (literally) is professional racer Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor), the newly-discovered twenty-year-old boyfriend of seventeen-year-old Tessa, and representing the evil corporations is Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci).
There is something to be said about rebooting a franchise. The second STAR WARS trilogy (which was really the first three episodes) was technically exquisite, but was met with harsh criticism by both fans and critics alike. Peter Jackson's The HOBBIT trilogy failed to capture that lightning in a bottle as The original LORD of the RINGS trilogy did. And, unfortunately, like the others, TRANSFORMERS 4 continues to suck on the teat of their original cash cow. Once you've seen one giant-robot-battle-for-the-safety-of-Mankind trilogy, unless you bring something new to the franchise, not just new characters but a new perspective, you're chewing the same stick of gum. Not all the dazzling ILM visuals, not all the Bay-sanctioned explosions, not even the injection of new characters, though this reviewer is relieved by the ejection of Shia LaBeouf from the series, made this new trilogy any more entertaining. Like the Gungan War scene on STAR WARS: EPISODE I - the PHANTOM MENACE, watching CGI battle CGI is nothing more than watching Saturday morning cartoons. Unless there is an element, that magic spark, that connects the audience with the CGI, there is no "skin" in the game.
On my personal rating scale of with "5" being drop everything and see the video now; if you're female, bear the producers' children and "0" being burn down the theater, murder the staff, and violate their dog, this movie earns a disappointing "2." As harsh as this review of TRANSFORMERS: AGE of EXTINCTION is, this reviewer's opinion will not affect the box office bonanza that is this film; as of this writing, the film, in it's first weekend, it has already grossed two hundred million dollars, with the second and third parts of the trilogy, already in production, undoubtedly expected to do the same.
TRANSFORMERS: AGE of EXTINCTION is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi (cartoon) violence and action, language and brief innuendo. If you want your teenagers, especially your sons, to get their explosion fix, along with some very minor titillation, go to your IMAX theater, plunk down your hard-earned green for popcorn and soda, and put your brain on hold for two and a half hours. Oh, there is one amusing scene, which should satisfy the Creationists in the audience. And the film has earned a Flicker Nomination for Most Wanton Destruction. If there were a Flicker Category for Loudest Film, AGE of EXTINCTION would be a shoo-in. Last Comment: IMAX is the ideal format for this form; unfortunately this platform also comes with 3D. This reviewer is waiting, no, praying that 3D technology will someday add something more to the cinema experience, besides the extra two dollars to the admission.
TRANSFORMERS: AGE of EXTINCTION stars Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, Bingbing Li, and includes the voice talents of Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Robert Foxworth, John DiMaggio, Mark Ryan, Reno Wilson. Written by Ehren Kruger and directed - loudly - by Michael Bay, the film is in theaters now, and in IMAX for a limited engagement.
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