If there is a franchise thoroughly impervious to criticism, that would be the Transformers saga. Never mind director Michael Bay inability to create a remotely compelling story, or the fact the robot clashes are impossible to follow. People attend in droves. The previous three films are among the 33 most successful in the history. Isn’t that depressing?
Transformers: Age of Extinction is somewhat of an improvement. It doesn’t seem edited by someone while having a seizure and the story is a bit more cohesive. The film even hints to interesting conflicts like why is humanity worth defending, but in a Michael Bay movie there is no room for subtlety.
Billed as a stand-alone chapter to justify the absence of Shia LaBeouf, Age of Extinction actually does a better job linking all the movies together. Sick of all the destruction Autobots and Decepticons cause on their regular scraps, mankind is in hot pursuit of the few that remain. A rogue CIA agent (Kelsey Grammer!) has made a pact with interstellar bounty hunters to kill every last one of them and use their bodies for science.
Meanwhile, a Texas inventor (a miscast Mark Wahlberg) and his rebellious daughter (Nicola Peltz, or Megan Fox 2.0) find a wounded and disenchanted Optimus Prime. The leader of the Autobots is ready to call it a day and leave the planet, but his sense of loyalty keeps him grounded and in the crosshairs. A cumbersome investigation ensues (what are the humans doing with the robot’s bodies?), one that leads to plenty of product placement opportunities.
It’s hard to explain why, with all his years of experience, Michael Bay fails to see the importance of time and space coherence. Characters constantly defy the odds and teleport just to service Ehren Kruger’s mediocre script. But Age of Extinction’s biggest sin is the two hours 45 minutes it lasts. It’s entertainment by demolition.
Two Prairie-bots. Transformers: Age of Extinction is now playing.