“We can make you now! Don’t you get it? We don’t need you anymore!”
The fourth installment in this redundant franchise opens with the extinction of dinosaurs and all life on Earth. And after seeing this, I can only hope these movies cease to exist as well. At two and a half hours, this movie is exactly two and half hours too long. It’s a loud, bombastic, and shameful attempt at storytelling. Someday, hopefully sooner than later, moronic audiences ignorant of good stories will stop seeing these movies. Maybe that will stop fueling Hollywood’s almost commendable effort at pumping out terrible films, especially during the Summer season. I thought the original Transformers was at least entertaining. There was enough to it to justify buying a ticket. That’s not the case this fourth time around. The movies have transformed into nauseating garbage. Everyone involved with bringing this movie to theaters should feel embarrassed and humiliated.
The previous film in this series featured the destruction of Chicago. We head back to the city some years later, now with the Oscorp-esque robotics company KSI running the show along with the help of government officials. Past the city confines lives Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his 17-year-old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). He’s a widowed and overprotective father struggling to make ends meet as a handyman for the local folk. Tessa runs the house and hopefully waits for a letter informing her she’s earned a college scholarship. The entire movie hinges on their relationship, but the characters are so everyday and thinly sketched that they don’t matter.
Cade stumbles upon a semi-truck while rummaging through a movie theater…don’t ask, I have no idea how that works either. And what do you know, it’s the legendary Optimus Prime! He feels obligated to help the metallic alien for unforeseen reasons, and endangers his family by doing so. Eventually they go on the run with Tessa’s boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) serving as their driver since that happens to be his profession. He is sponsored by RedBull after all. Looming throughout is KSI headman Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) and his shady partner Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer). KSI makes their own transformers, what they believe to be improved versions of the classics we know so well, but are unaware of their lack of control over them. Something has fooled the humans trying to play God.
There are Dinobots that aid the Autobots, and to be honest I have no idea where they came from. The climatic battle takes place in Hong Kong seemingly just to wreak havoc on another major populous. As a whole, the film has too many faults to list here. However, the biggest has to be the lack of an antagonist, or “the bad guy.” We finally figure out who it is at an hour into the movie, and not until late does he begin to affect the story. There is a racially profiled Autobot with an Asian accent and samurai attire to match, as well as another that is fat, bearded, and totes a cigar. So much occurs that doesn’t have a shred of significance that I would feel bad making anyone read it. Just know that it ends well after overstaying its welcome. Even the best marathon runners would feel exhaustion kick in.
The only explanation for Mark Wahlberg’s appearance has to be paying a personal favor to director Michael Bay. After they’re sleeper success Pain and Gain, Bay had to have asked the A-lister to star in his next film to ensure it’s box-office earnings (which after a $100 million opening weekend has sadly come true). The only good acting comes from Tucci, but I don’t think he has ever played a role poorly. I’m not sure you can blame the cast though. The dialogue is so phony and over-done that the humans come across as transformers as well. Movies like this are supposed to be entertaining, not boring. It is never engaging and the action is so indiscernible that you can’t tell what the hell is going on. I started to lose track of who was bad and who was good, and found myself only distinguishing between the two because the good guys miraculously catch humans flailing through the air countless times. At one point, Cade crashes through a Bud Light truck with an alien spaceship and lands on a pedestrian vehicle. The car’s owner confronts him, and like a terrible SuperBowl commercial, Cade opens the aluminum bottle on the guy’s window and takes a giant gulp. That’s the kind of movie this is.
I have to say, Michael Bay is not a bad director. Most in his position on big budget films shoot the main material and leave the rest of the movie to be shot by 2nd unit crews. He doesn’t and that is an incredible feat on such a large-scale production. But he is a modern day Sybarite, a sensualist in every sense of the word. It seems nothing matters to him besides the look of the movie. I’ve heard a joke that revolves around sending a film like this, full of spectacle and extraordinary special effects, back to the very first days of cinema to see the audience’s reaction. And they most certainly would be wowed, just as easily as we are today. But the only problem is, those same people, the ones growing up on the magical genius of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, would know a better movie without ever hearing a single word or seeing color up on the screen. For all of its technical wizardry, Transformers is hindered by a disgraceful story. Go watch a bunch of teenagers drive around in bumper cars and fight over who got in the best hits. It’d be just as compelling as watching this mess.
“A new era has begun. The age of Transformers is over…”
Rating: 0.5 out of 5