Sunday, 20 July 2014

Transformers Age of Extinction Review

The Transformers film series is one that whilst at times visually stunning has also been unable to find a consistent tone. The narrative whilst minimal has at times been serviceable such as in the first and third films, and at other times it has been complete train wreck as in the second film which the director himself has now declared as “crap”. Like the director I found the second to be a truly terrible film, however I did find the first and third films to provide for more then serviceable fun action escapism.

Transformers Age of Extinction starts with the American government (or at least a branch of the American government) who once worked alongside the Autobots systematically hunting down both Autobots and Decepticons. From their the plot quickly evolves (or devolves) into a mess of ideas and plot points that are forgotten as quickly as they are introduced. The core idea however revolves around Optimus Prime and the Autobots having there faith restored in humanity. This core idea is one that holds promise, the problem however is that the rest of the film seems to simply be about what Michael Bay thinks would be 'cool', like a kid playing with transformer toys. Thus the narrative fells like it is simply mentioned in passing as apposed to actually being developed in any real way.

The characters as one may expect are lifeless inconsistent caricatures and little to no reason is present to care about any that are present. Mark Whalberg as Cade and Nicola Peltz as Tessa in particular give horrid performances and even the ever reliable Stanley Tucci gives a performance that is passable at best. This problem however extends beyond just the human characters and whilst the performances by the voice actors for the Transformers are extraordinarily good, the characterization for these characters is so basic that it removes one of the few aspects in the story that if handled with more care could provide for the basis of a compelling narrative (the Autobots/Optimus Prime having their faith restored in humanity). Likewise the relationship that existed between the Autobots and humanity in the previous films is not touched on, this absence is in particularly odd given that several of which worked alongside the Autobots in the military that is now hunting them down which could easily have been used to create the conflict that lead to the Autbots loosing their faith in humanity (as apposed to it simply being lost already as the film begins). Likewise the human and Autobot relationship which at times ventured into tenuous territory in the prior films now fells in no way a natural progression for the characters and what is happening. The reason for the continued interaction between Cade, Tessa and the Autobots is simply no longer present, and they exist seemingly for no reason beyond that the film makers decided they wanted human characters to remain the focus.

Transformers Age of Extinction however was clearly not made with the intention of the narrative being the focus. Rather the story simply seems to exists as a framing device for the action. The problem is the action present in this film is far from impressive. The visual effects vary from admittedly impressive to what appears to be embarrassingly unfinished. The action itself also rarely flows together and whilst there are some impressive shoots they remain the minority of the film and even when these impressive shoots do show up there is a complete lack of flow from not only scene to scene but within scenes in of themselves that results in what is simply a chaotic mess to watch that is rarely interesting or exciting. The use of 3d however is well done and whilst some scene it does fell more like an afterthought that is more then enough truly impressive use of the extra dimension to make 3d the way to view the film.

Transformers Age of Extinction in many ways could be described as Michael Bay turned up to eleven. Unfortunately it is all the worst aspects that have been focused on. The narrative achieves the impressive feat of making the seconds films narrative look cohesive in comparison as plot point and characters are introduced only to be not utilized for any purpose beyond a bad joke or getting to an action scene and then is simply discarded. Even the catalyst for the films finale is seemingly forgotten about with the expectation that the chaos that ensues would cover up that little that is happening makes any sense. The problem however is as little makes sense and the action is largely boring, nothing on screen matters so even whilst some shoots are in of themselves spectacular the whole film devolves into what is nothing more then a rushed lifeless bore, full of egregiously in your face product placement that is overly long given the absence of a compelling narrative.

Hence I would recommend staying far away from Transformers Age of Extinction.

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