One-and-a-half out of five stars
Here’s a plot synopsis for "Transformers: Age of Extinction." As if it matters. It’s a few years after the Transformers laid waste to Chicago in 2011’s "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." In an effort to make sure it never happens again, the government is fighting a secret war against the remaining Transformers, including the ones on our side, the Autobots.
Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager, a failed inventor, widower and single dad of gorgeous 17-year-old Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Seriously in debt and at risk of losing his farm property, Cade makes a life-changing decision when he buys the remains of an 18-wheeler truck for practically nothing, in hopes of selling its parts to pay the bills. That truck turns out to be the chief Autobot, Optimus Prime, who’s now a fugitive from humanity. When the secret CIA task force run by Kelsey Grammer’s Harold Attinger comes calling, Cade, Tessa and the unwelcome addition of Tessa’s boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor), quickly ally with Optimus Prime to find the surviving Autobots, so director Michael Bay can destroy Chicago again, and Shanghai, too.
Here’s how Bay attempts to elicit audience sympathy for his main character. Within a few minutes of introducing the Yeagers, Bay treats us to a PPOV. That’s a Posterior Point-of-View shot, from behind Peltz, who at that moment is barely wearing very short denim shorts. Apparently, we’re supposed to feel bad for Cade because his little baby is all grown up and has a great rear end. Later, he grows furious when a realtor drops by uninvited, clients in tow, to show his farm. Cade, a strong white male, threatens the female African-American real estate agent with a baseball bat as she reminds him he’s six months behind on his mortgage payments. Are you kidding me, Michael Bay?
About three days, six hours and 23 minutes into "Transformers: Age of Extinction"(it seemed that long; I didn’t consult a calendar), Stanley Tucci’s character, Joshua Joyce, an inventor who’s cracked the Transfomers’ genome, screams, “OH MY GOD!” I’m not sure if he’s screaming because of the size of the alien ship hovering overhead or because he’s angry with himself for participating in this film. Whatever his motivation, it was the only relatable moment for me, because, OH MY GOD, this is a bad movie.
This is the part where I write something nice: "Transformers: Age of Extinction" looks great. It’s the most impressively rendered of the four Transformers movies so far, and the first three also looked great. Indeed, this movie is essentially just one long money shot. Bay also loves to blow things up, so much so that his movies are often referred to as disaster porn, which is almost an insult to porn. At least in porn, there’s foreplay. This movie’s appetite for destruction is so relentless, it’s boring. There are so many explosions, it almost lulls you to sleep. If the settings on my white noise machine were “ocean waves,” “rain,” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” I’d pick "Transformers: Age of Extinction" every time and enjoy a great night’s rest.