Monday, March 16, 2015

Review - Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Yes, this is pretty much the only new movie I saw this weekend.  So let's recap what's going on in the world of transformers.  Transformers are shape-changing robots of various sizes who look like cars or helicopters or tanks or the like.  The Autobots are the good guys, led by Optimus Prime, who looks like a semi-truck.  The bad guys are the Decepticons, led by Megatron, who looks like a plane.  In the last two movies, Optimus and the Autobots kicked the Decepticons' asses so badly that they don't even really show up in this movie.  Megatron is dead.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) is about the hunt for Optimus Prime.  Apparently, Optimus Prime's creators have put a price on his head.  Who are his creators?  That's never explained, but a lot of Autobots died while some robot named Lockdown chews his way up the ladder to find Optimus Prime.  Fortunately for Optimus prime, he's currently offline while an unexploded missile is lodged in his 'spark,' or power source.  But while Lockdown is basically a bounty hunter out for Prime's head, he's not working alone.  He's got a deal with a CIA guy (played by Kelsey Grammar) to provide the metal the transformers are made of, to the head of a technology company (played by Stanley Tucci), who is using the heads of dead Decepticons to remake his own line of Transformers.  Unfortunately for everyone concerned, Megatron's head still has some life in it, and he uses the technology factory to make himself a new body...

Okay, I don't think I can recap the number of times Megatron and Optimus have both died by this point.  Sure, it's great that they're robots, and they come back every movie to duke it out, but wasn't it the point of the first two or three Transformers movies to have Optimus and Megatron duke it out for the final time?  How many 'final' final times are there?  Looks like at least one more.

Mark Wahlberg heads the cast of humans this time, supported by Nicola Peltz, who is quite hot, and tends to run around in extremely short Daisy-dukes.  For those of you who don't know what daisy dukes are, they are very short denim shorts.  But, I digress.  I think the real problem here is they spend too much time trying to make the humans the heroes of the Transformers movies.  Look, it's a movie about giant robots.  The cartoon series back in the 80's had 1 human involved, a teenaged boy, who spent most of his time getting into trouble that the Autobots had to get him out of.  I think there was one episode where the boy actually helped the autobots, and the rest of the time he was pretty much a nuisance who just gave the Autobots the use of his dad's garage so they could repair themselves.  Every transformers movie made so far seems to be focusing on making the humans as heroic as possible, and when they're up against giant alien robots, I mean really, how heroic can they be?

There's one scene where this giant space ship shoots down some anchor lines to a bunch of buildings in a city, and the humans are trying to escape down the anchor lines.  Now, since the anchor lines are made of parallel steel poles, and the anchor lines are running almost horizontally, they try to walk along them like walking along a wooden plank.  Needless to say, there's all kinds of shit flying around, the anchor lines are bouncing around in the breeze and as the ship moves, and there's nothing holding them up at all except their own two feet.  And yet, they manage to almost make it back down to the building.  While firing away at robots running down the lines after them.  Look, have you ever seen a human being walk?  Our balance isn't so good.  We fall down and bump into shit all the time.  I'm pretty goddamn sure even a master tightrope walker like Nik Wallenda would have been tossed off before making it about 50 feet, and here's a farmboy-turned-engineer who's probably never even climbed a mountain (or even walked up a steep hill) shooting robots down off the anchor lines while shouting encouragement to his daughter.  And here's the 20-year-old daughter wearing cowboy boots and daisy dukes who manages to hang on while robot wolves are chasing her down the wire?  Riiiiiiiight.

Another little error, and I know that supposedly time passes between scenes at some point, but Nicola bounces between having jeans on, and having her shorts on, almost at will.  First she's got them on, then she doesn't, then she does, I don't know.  Hey, maybe it's not an error, maybe she just changes clothes a lot, but I find it hard to follow how you have time to change clothes 15 times while being chased by everyone from the CIA to killer alien robots. Maybe she's trying to confuse her pursuers.  Sure, I bet that's it.  I'm sure confused.  It worked on me.

All that having been said, the robot fighting isn't as good as the first two movies, even.  John Goodman adds a little comedy relief as a chubby robot gunner, and Bumblebee is back, but all that doesn't help much.  The bounty hunter doesn't have as much villain-y badness to him as Megatron did, and the Dinobots, which seem awesome, barely even make an appearance til the end of the movie.  Sure, the movie is hours long and supposedly a blockbuster, and sure there's giant robots beating each other into scrap throughout the movie, but I just don't think it's even as good as some of the other Transformers movies.  Plus you got Mark Wahlberg taking out dozens of robots with a tiny gun that seems to have infinite ammo, while John Goodman's robot arsenal seems to run out faster than a minigun with a busted ammo chain.  I know suspension of disbelief is supposed to fit in here somewhere, but really?  And even the dialogue doesn't make much sense.  Mark and his daughter Nicola are arguing over her having a boyfriend, and Nicola throws some argument at him about how if he'd just turned the truck over to the government, none of this would have happened, except...  isn't that exactly what the other guy did, that got everyone into the trouble to start with?  Where does logic fit in?

You know, I can't even really tell you to watch this movie, or not.  I'm biased because I watched the cartoons as a kid, and I love to see giant robots fighting each other, so I'd have watched this movie no matter how bad it is.  I can't really call myself a Transformers fanboy or anything, because I've obviously just ripped this movie a new asshole, but I'm tempted to tell you to watch it once just for the giant alien robots.  And sure, maybe to see Nicola's legs.  But my point is, I don't want to do that, because you probably won't like the movie, unless you just LOVE watching giant CGI-generated robots tear each other apart.  Which, I do.  So don't.  Just don't watch this one.  Skip it.  Or don't.  It's currently playing on Epix if you want to check out Nicola's legs.

That's all for this weekend.  Hopefully something better will come up by next weekend.  Happy St. Patrick's day to all those Irish out there.  Try not to drink too much green beer.  And Spring officially starts friday!  At least I got that to look forward to.

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