Sunday, June 29, 2014

Transformers 4 Age of Extinction.

Michael Bay is a bug that needs to be squashed but he's the only one that can get these kind of big and noisy movies made. Maybe that is not such a good thing because if Michael Bay, with all his explosions, can't make the freakin' TRANSFORMERS interesting, then something is wrong with the whole franchise. That being said this is the best of the lot of sequels we have all suffered through but that isn't saying much. Bay still makes the action difficult to follow but there is no doubt he is a capable filmmaker. He's just not a very inventive one. It seems like I have seen this movie before when it was called TRANSFORMERS.

What passes for cute soon becomes tedious and Mark Walhberg doesn't help any. He's really only got one note in these kind of movies. Of course he has to have a sexy young daughter because Michael Bay needs a pretty face in short shorts to distract us from all the crap that is up on the screen.

Dead Mom - check. Unreliable dad who needs to become hero to his doubting daughter. Check. Noise. More Noise. Double check. Bad writing is not helping for a second, either. Every human character is annoying. Kelsey Grammar is especially simple in his evil. All he needed was a mustache to twirl. The US Government also doesn't come across very well either. I have no doubt that is deliberate given the current low opinion the US public have for their leaders.

But I watched and liked some things. The footage from the mini-drones during a military mission to take out the last remaining Transformer was fun to watch. Something creative among all the quick cuts and frenzied action. Like every Michal BAY movie, less would be more if he would just hold back from being IN OUR FACES every 2 minutes. It's either that or more slow motion shots of people running from explosions.

Okay, I take back what I said about that capture scene being fun. I hated watching Ratchet die. That is just wrong. Any kid coming from the recent cartoon series will be traumatized. I think I was.

Oh good, the US Military has it's own Transformer to do it's wetwork. How does someone hide something like that from the general public. In fact, how do these huge robots stay hidden. Oh yeh, they transform.

Galvatron is a nice addition because like each of the other Transformers, they have worked hard to give each character it's own personality. However, using John Goodman's voice for one of the Autobots totally took me out of the scenes he was in. I kept looking for the actor to pop his head out of the top of the robot. Again, too much of the CGI takes place in the dark where it's hard to tell things apart.

Oh great, the family drama where all problems get solved when the robots start to fight and ONLY because the robots start to fight. Gah! At this point the movie seemed to start feeling really long. I got the point. I saw the giant robots fight and show their personalities.

But then Grimlock showed up and it temporarily made everything better.
I was amazed at how much risk the humans take while not taking a scratch with all the glass and twisted metal flying around them for most of the film. They don't even have to use the toilet like most people in movies. I know if I was in the middle of a Transformer fight (or ten) that I may need to change my diaper a few times at least. All those sharp edges and loose machinery and no one gets so much as a cut to slow them down. Luck also plays a role in surviving against and entire spaceship full of killer robots but come on. Maybe if someone just ripped a shirt or their pants I could buy this experience for a second.
It became too ridiculous for words at about the 90 minute point when Mark Wahlberg found the ONE gun that was his size that could take down a Transformer. And I still had an hour to go.
And that is the main problem with the Transformers. Once you see two giant robots fighting each other it becomes LESS cool each and every time you see it. I don't know why that is but for me it's a truth. Grimlock was fresh and so were the amped up personalities of the Transformers (especially Bubblebee) but I found I want to see more of that kind of story than all the smashing and bashing.
And can we figure out some way with modern computer special effects technology to make the TRANSFORMATION PROCESS look cool. Not just a mess of blurry Lego blocks that become something else. I want to see them go from robot to car and back again in a way that makes me know half way through that I am going to see a car or a plane or a tank. It's a cheat to the audience. Make the Transformers COOLER, Michael Bay, or don't make the movie at all. It seems like he just tossed everything he could so that each Transformer could have their 'moment'.
At least Stanley Tucci is having a lot of fun as an evil billionaire. He redeems his early dickishness by making the last half of the movie at least a tiny bit ironic. He says what we are all thinking about the situation these characters find themselves in.
This movie is loud, noisy and totally preposterous but it demands to be seen on a big screen where the explosions and clatter can be fully appreciated. I was into the last hour but I will be damned if I can tell you much about it an hour after I got home. I just remember a lot of people running in front of green screens.

I think the truest thing that I have read about this movie this weekend was the following - "You can admire what Michael Bay does without really enjoying it."


j-swin said...

That's unfortunate, I wasn't expecting much from Bay, we all know he equates explosions to content but I was hoping that with Shia out and Marky Mark in then may have been watchable. Oh well.

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I was surprised to learn that Michael Bay was attached to a fourth film. Its one thing for a director to do multiple installments in a film franchise, but most move on to do other things after three. I just figured he'd want to move on and do something else, but then I went over these Transformers movies in my head and realized, each one of them is the same!

Ancient Transformers things is discovered, the robots fight over it, squishy humans have their drama, dehumanizing shot of the leading lady, boom boom smash kablooie the end. He's finally figured out a way to just put his filmmaking on autopilot.

I'll credit him this, he has a fantastic marketing department. While I haven't "liked" any of his films, every time I see a trailer one of his pictures, my interest is always piqued.

Kal said...

It was fun to watch and then it wasn't and then it was again. If he could cut down to a reasonable time he could have something but he is like Liefeld. He doesn't want to improve his craft. Everything looks so 2012. But I would see it. It has it's moments. There is just too much that disappoints and the scale has to tip some way.

Nick Ward said...

Michael Bay watches explosions and touches himself.