Transformers: Age of Extinction

More than anything else, you’ll wish you’d carried a cushion to watch Transformers: Age of Extinction, the noisy fourth entry in Michael Bay’s robots-versus-robots film series, which clocks in at a butt-punishing 165 minutes. 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.
 
But you know, of course, that all this is just an excuse for the orgy of excellent special effects, and the metal-on-metal action that these films are truly about. The humans are largely irrelevant on this busy canvas dominated by giant city-smashing robots, although there is some nice humor derived from the affectionate bickering between the nerdy dad, his bombshell daughter, and her hot-headed boyfriend.
 
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. And although the climax goes on and on for what seems like eternity, thrill-seekers will be duly satisfied with all the carnage.
 
Like the previous films, this fourth installment is beset with script holes, clunky dialogue, hammy acting, and the overconfidence of a director who doesn’t know when to stop. But for fans of the same noisy but vacuous spectacle that these films have come to represent, Transformers: Age of Extinction is actually a step up from the last film.
 
I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five. Now if only you’d carried that cushion.

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