Friday, 25 July 2014

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)

Feel free to check out my overview of the other Transformers movies right here.

And so we get to the fourth live-action Transformers movie from director Michael Bay, and anyone believing that this outing will be oh-so-different from his previous outings may well find themselves angry at being suckered once again as the end credits roll. Of course, those knowing exactly what they're letting themselves in for should come out smiling. I'm not saying that anyone WILL believe that this robo-flick is going to be any different from the others. I'm just giving fair warning.

Set some years after the events of the last movie, both Autobots and Decepticons are being treated as hostile aliens by shady government types (namely Kelsey Grammer and his right hand man, played by Titus Welliver). They're also being researched by Stanley Tucci and his many workers, in an attempt to make the best use of that incredible technology, and to make lots of money. Meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg is an inventor who hasn't made any breakthrough in the years that he's spent chasing his dream, leaving him with a seriously unhealthy bank balance and a seriously exasperated daughter (Nicola Peltz). All that looks set to change when he finds a run-down truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime, bringing the potential for great reward, and also great danger.

Love or hate the guy, and so many fall into the latter camp, it's hard to think of anyone who does BIG action set-pieces as well as Michael Bay. Why choreograph a fight between some robots when you can choreograph it in mid-air while the robots are transforming to overcome obstacles? Why put your main characters in some mild peril when you can put them through some physics-defying trauma that works the stunt performers and FX team to way beyond normal? Bay always thinks big, which is why these movies work well, for most of the time.

I've enjoyed all of the Transformers films, to some degree, because they all supply what I want to see, when it comes to large robots battling one another and transforming in cool ways. Ehren Kruger, back on the script-writing duties here, doesn't fix a formula that ain't broke. The human characters are still pretty thin, although Grammer, Welliver and Tucci all fare much better than John Turturro did in the previous movies, and the focus is on the spectacular set-pieces, as it should be.

Wahlberg isn't too bad in the main role, it's just a shame that the inventor side of his character is overshadowed by the single dad side. He's over-protective of Peltz, and that becomes more noticeable when they're joined by her boyfriend (Jack Reynor). Oh, and Reynor is playing an Irish lad for no discernible reason that I can think of, apart from allowing Wahlberg to then call him "Lucky Charms" throughout the movie. Seriously, either allow the guy to use his own accent or get, hmmmm, an Irish actor. T.J. Miller is good fun in a small role, Binbing Li gets to kick some ass, and Sophia Myles is underused, but always worth having in any movie, in my opinion (dear Hollywood, put Sophia Myles in more movies).

Optimus Prime is meaner than he has been previously, with good reason, and he's joined by Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, Crosshairs and Brains in his latest battle with Galvatron (essentially Megatron in a different guise), all while avoiding the attention of a robo-bounty hunter named Lockdown. Yeah, most of these names mean very little to me either, but I thought I'd mention some of the main robo-characters for fans who know much more about this universe than I do. And there are dinobots. How could I almost forget to mention the glorious dinobots? They may not get too much time on screen, about 15 minutes at most, but they're pretty damn impressive when they appear.

There are moments in which things pitch over into the ridiculous, including a high-wire sequence that proves that Wahlberg may be the most well-balanced man on the planet, literally, but this is a movie that's never too far away from another fantastic bit of eye-candy or impressive stunt work, or both. It's a bit overlong, at over two and a half hours (the longest entry in the series), but it's almost perfectly paced, meaning that it doesn't overstay its welcome. Well, not by too much.

And there are dinobots.


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