Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

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Transformers: Age of Extinction is again a massive disappointment for me after Godzilla. I will be blunt: seeing Transformers: Age of Extinction last night was the worst moviegoing experience of my life. For sake of honesty, I must admit that one of the reasons this happened was not at all the fault of the movie: the air conditioning was not working in the theatre in which I saw it. While this made me want the movie to be over sooner (and clocking in at a butt-punishing 165 minutes, that’s something it could have afforded, to say the least).

More than anything else, I wish I had carried a set of earplugs to watch Transformers: Age of Extinction, the noisy fourth entry in Michael Bay’s robots-versus-robots film series. To be fair, Age of Extinction delivers pretty much everything one would expect from a Transformers movie – both the good and the bad, and then some.

Early on, we’re introduced to new protagonist Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), overprotective single dad and scrap collector-cum-inventor in rural Texas, who discovers his beat-up truck is actually Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. But set in a future where the government (led by Kelsey Grammer’s shady CIA chief Harold Attinger) has declared an unofficial war on all Transformers, the film quickly turns into a relentless chase, with Attinger and his cronies hot on the heels of Cade, his teenage daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor), who hit the road with Optimus and his friends. This plot, which jumps from Texas to Chicago to Beijing to Hong Kong, is further complicated by the presence of a Steve Jobs-like techno-wiz (Stanley Tucci) who has aligned himself with Attinger to replicate the Transformers metal in pursuit of huge profits, and to create a robot army to protect the nation. There’s also an inter-galactic bounty hunter, Lockdown, who trails the skies in a gargantuan spaceship, hell bent on capturing Optimus.

Stanley Tucci is one of the finest actors working today, but you wouldn’t know it by seeing him in this movie. The character actor consistently turns in fantastic, interesting performances, but in Transformers: Age of Extinction he’s downgraded to a one note, annoying screaming character that is not worthy of the man’s incredible talents. Kelsey Grammer is another great actor who has proven time and time again that he’s an incredible actor, but his talents are wasted and he’s become an uninteresting, not at all frightening villain (except for maybe the fact that he never blinks).

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Despite of all its shot-comings, the movie has an orgy of excellent special effects (evident in any large budget movie), and the metal-on-metal action. The humans are largely irrelevant on this busy canvas dominated by giant city-smashing robots.

If Age of Extinction doesn’t fail as spectacularly as the last two films in the series, it’s because Bay pulls out all stops to give his target audience of 11-year-old boys exactly what they want – a non-stop assault of sound and fury, lightning-fast movements from the colossal heroes, and enough moments of genuine awe and shock. The very appearance of the massive Dinobots is likely to send fans into a collective rapture, particularly the moment Optimus rides into the screen on one.

Though hardcore Transformers and the 11-year-olds might love it, but as I am neither of the two, I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five stars for Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. Now if only I had carried those earplugs.