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'Transformers: Age Of Extinction' Review: I Don't Know How Much More Of This I Can Take

By TK | Film Reviews | June 27, 2014 | Comments ()


new-tv-spots-for-transformers-age-of-extinction-chaaaarge.jpg

One of the clumsily proffered themes of Age Of Extinction is the concept of souls. There’s a moment early on where Mark Wahlberg, playing a widowed, down-on-his-luck Texan inventor (yup, you read that correctly) named Cade Yeager is examining some sort of glowing glowiness in Optimus Prime’s chest, and Prime solemnly intones that it’s what they call their “spark.” Yeager breathlessly announces that humans call it a soul, and it’s done in the midst of lens-flarey, dappled light with rippling orchestral music swelling in the background, as if to slap you in the dick and say “HEY! THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MOMENT.” But it’s not. It’s barely ever called back to, despite the fact that one of the many villains in the film is a transformer constructed by humans for nefarious purposes, one built without that “spark.” Yet the theme is never revisited other than when, in the midst of one of the films many interminable, deafening, brain-scraping battle sequences, Prime bellows “YOU HAVE NO SOUL!” to his opponent. As if that’s an important thematic element.

It’s that moment that the film hits its apogee of irony, for Age Of Extinction is utterly soulless, absolutely devoid of anything resembling heart or intellect or warmth. It’s a horrendous two hours and forty-five minutes (not including credits!) of lights and motion and rote, awful dialogue, yet all it ever does is replay the same series of vignettes, over and over again. After trashing Chicago in Dark Of The Moon, a secret government agency led by Kelsey Grammar is hunting down all transformers. His two chief weapons are a dead-eyed Titus Welliver, and a bounty hunter transformer whose name I forget, maybe Lockdown? Downlock? Lockup? Fucklock? Whatever, no one cares. Anyway. they’re hunting Autobots and Decepticons alike, and Mark Wahlberg, in between fretting about his daughter being a teenager (guys, this is going to sound surprising, but he’s overprotective and doesn’t like her dating boys) and being down on his luck, salvages an old wreck of a truck that is of course Optimus Prime. Anyway, the bad guys find them, shit blows up, they discover some bad guy secrets, and then run away.

That scenario then plays out about fifteen more times. It happens again in Chicago, then on a highway somewhere, then in a couple more places, then on a space ship, and then in Hong Kong. Sure, there are different variations beyond locale — after a while, they pick up additional Autobots, and Fucklock barfs out more sinister expository nonsense, and Stanley Tucci is there bringing shame upon his family for a derivative portrayal of an arrogant scientist (now that John Turturro is gone, apparently a slot opened up for a quirky, well-loved character actor to embarrass himself). But otherwise, it’s just the same crap, over and over and over. Every scene takes place in either a shining, blandly modern building, or is filmed outside at sunset. Almost all of the outdoor scenes take place at sunset, to maximize the lens flare potential and so we can be sure to capture every bit of glistening sweat on every character, because lord, do these people do some Top Gun caliber sweating.

In case you were worried that director Michael Bay had begun to develop interesting, unique characters with original backstories and depth, rest at ease. Everyone — everyone — is played as ridiculously broad stereotypes once again, with only the shallowest of backgrounds. Oh, and don’t fret, there’s plenty of questionable, if not downright terrible racial humor. Yeager’s daughter (Nicola Peltz) is thin and blonde and blue eyed and screams a lot, while also petulantly rebelling against her father and complaining that he doesn’t take care of his family. She has a boyfriend (Jack Reynor) who is Irish, and since Yeager doesn’t like him, he calls him Lucky Charms. But as usual, Bay saves his best stereotypes for the robots. There’s a big fat robot who smokes a cigar (WHY WOULD A ROBOT BE FAT AND SMOKE A CIGAR IN FACT WHY DO THEY EVEN HAVE MOUTHS WHY WHY WHY THAT MAKES NO SENSE) and sounds like John Goodman, who is voiced by John Goodman. He’s quite jolly. There’s a British one, who is haughty and obnoxious, voiced by John Dimaggio. He uses a parachute and sneers. Then there’s one who transforms into a robot that looks like a samurai and uses a giant robotic samurai sword. He speaks in horrible fortune cookie aphorisms and is voiced by — and you have no idea how much it pains me to type this out — Ken Watanabe. And amid all of it, the bafflingly miscast Wahlberg — when he isn’t busy treating his daughter like some sort of stupid sex-magnet who can’t be trusted to cross the street by herself — yells things like “WHAT IS GOING ON?” and “LEAVE MY FAMILY OUT OF THIS!”.

Eventually, all this loud, garish, shiny nonsense comes to a head in Hong Kong in a vulgarly ostentatious climax that involves Prime riding into battle on top of a giant robot Tyrannosaurus. This is a scene that should have been a nerd’s wet dream, but it’s done with such absolute ineptitude, and comes after such an endless parade of hideously trite dialogue, exposition-for-dummies, and two hours of deafening, headache-inducing, incoherent action that by that point, you don’t care. You just want it to be over with. The entire agonizing waste of dollars and talent is the culmination of four films worth of excess and arrogance and steroid-laced bread and circus, and you just want it to end. But here’s the funniest/saddest thing about Transformers: Age Of Extinction: it isn’t that it’s an atrociously scripted, kick-in-the-nuts dumb, incoherent mess. It’s that the best part of the film is the hilarious TJ Miller, and (SPOILER) he dies in the first 20 minutes. It was at that point that I wish I’d died too, because I simply don’t want to have to endure any more of this.


You can email TK here, or follow him on Twitter at @TKhatesyou.




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Mrcreosote

    So in the porn version of this, there is a robot called Cockblock correct? I kind of need a list of porn transformer names: For reasons.

  • Robert Sanchez III

    Please, please, please never let them try and make beast wars. I loved that show so much I don't think I could bear them doing the same injustices to that show as they've done to transformers.

  • foolsage

    Ahhh, TK, this is glorious. Thanks.

  • Kudos to TJ Miller for two movies out this summer. (This shit and HTTYD2 as Tuffnut.)

  • malechai

    I have a feeling this is one of those movies that would have me going, "What? What just happened? Who is that? Where are they going now? I don't get it," for the duration. Then I would go home feeling very old.

  • e jerry powell

    You'll take all of it, and you will be grateful for the bounty, young man...

  • Mrs. Julien

    Did you see?

  • e jerry powell

    Hon, I can't see anything right now; the temple on my glasses just broke off.

  • Bryan

    He died in the first 20 minutes?!? CLASSIC Shershow!

    No, I'm STILL not over Happy Endings being cancelled. Shut up.

  • emmalita

    Neither am I. I miss all of them, except Dave. Dave was terrible, but not as bad as Ted. Everyone agrees that Ted was the worst. *Pours one out for Brad, Jane, Penny, Max, and Alex.* SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH!

  • Bryan

    I miss Dave BECAUSE of how terrible he was. He was just a sad sack who it was fun to watch fail. Watching his pathetic kickball petrformance, seeing him trip over a friggin' curb while failing to evade airport security, getting arrested for scalping clams.... absoutely hilarious.
    I laughed WITH the others, but AT Dave.

  • emmalita

    Dammit! Now I miss Dave and his stupid goatee.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Did you ever see the episode of It's Always Sunny where they just completely destroy this dude's car because the gang tinted the INSIDE of their van's windshield? And the dude turns out to be Dave?

  • emmalita

    Yes! I love Always Sunny. I have no problem with the actor who played Dave, he was just the least interesting character. And really, he was competing against Max, and Brad and Jane. That's tough competition.

  • sherryb23

    I'm grateful for this review simply because I have been introduced to the name "Fucklock." I will endeavor to use this as much as possible moving forward.

  • LordTomHulce

    I remember being shocked and amazed when a Mountain Dew vending machine turned into a Mountain Dew decepticon in the first Transformers movie. I couldn't believe the level of contempt for the audience shown by that mindless, artless, crassly commercial piece of drivel. And that was the high water mark of this franchise. Keep on watchin', TK!

  • Guest

    Aren't most of Pajiba's reviews pompous and negative? Like someone is forcing them to watch the movies and they are some movie bully. Oh, wait.
    They gave some Snowpiercer movie that is not on anyone's radar a rave review and some other independent movies. Sorry, I meant films. Forgot this is Pajiba and movies are for the lower class. No one should joke about dying in a movie theater either. Oops, I mean theatre. Theater's are also for the lower class.

  • Eyvi

    The difference between theater and theatre is locale not class. Historically, Americans used theater, everyone else used theatre. Granted, the tide is turning and theater is becoming the norm everywhere. Still doesn't have anything to do with class but thanks for being a pretentious ass.

  • foolsage

    You surely seem confident in your opinions, anonymous guest. I wonder why you remain anonymous. Actually, no, I don't; that's evident enough.

    There's nothing remotely classist about these reviews (swing and a miss!); they vary because the humans providing the opinions vary, as do the movies. If you expect to see the same glowing review of everything regardless of its quality, then you're in the wrong place.

    Don't pretend to speak for anyone but yourself, by the way. When you claim that "Snowpiercer" wasn't on anyone's radar, you only betray your ignorance. And that was already well established, so no need to beat that dead horse, pal.

    Incidentally, apostrophes are never used to indicate plural quantities in English. Just add the 's' to 'theater' and you get 'theaters'. 'Theatre' is the English spelling, which is only pompous if you feel somehow intellectually inferior to people from England.

    And, hey, you very well might.

  • Saying 'Snowpiercer' isn't on anyone's radar is just factually inaccurate. It's been marketed to the public poorly, but movie sites have been talking about it for a while now. Speaking of, while 'Snowpiercer' is not really to my particular taste and I really have no plans to see it(if it even plays in the Twin Cities)I think I can comfortably assert that it will be a better movie than the fourth installment of a live-action version of a twenty year old toy commercial.

  • It's time for your nap now, Mr. Bay.

  • John G.

    let me just give you the review you wanted

    "bang pow boom. naked chick. boom yeah! woo hoo. My dick is so hard! Good movie."

  • Uriah_Creep

    Coincidentally, that's exactly what Ain't It Cool News' review said.

  • Lord Inferno

    It's good that you understand your place in the world "Guest". You see, when your kind manages to scrape together enough self awareness to realize that they should not expect any form of quality or integrity from what they consume, it saves those of us within the higher echelons from having to make weak, half-hearted attempts at appeasing you.

    We do not despise the masses who flock to this dreck. While you are all gurning, gurgling and gasping over this cinematic lobotomy, you are self-segregating; by confining yourselves to a theater, you are giving the rest of us a sweet, three-hour respite.

    But make no mistake, if you should become too self aware and begin to demand more from this world, we shall be forced to take measures to ensure the proper order is maintained.

  • Amen.

  • Jezzer

    Maybe you should consider that your taste in cinema is terrible and you should feel bad. Or, you know, eat a dick. Either way.

  • Pinky McLadybits

    Theater's what are also for the lower class? THEATER'S WHAT? SEATS? FLOORS? WHAT DOES IT OWN???

  • I don't know about you 'Guest' but the theatre/theater is goddamn expensive as shit! Not exactly for the lower classes if you ask me. I had to buy the tickets for Motown the Musical as my mom refused to pay that much for any form of entertainment that is not a season pass.

  • Oh right. Because movies shouldn't be judged on their acting, story, creativity, nuance, or even popcorn munching appeal -- but on popular consensus?

    Y'know, instead of somehow feeling like TK's shitting on your choice to want to see or even like this movie and turning it into some "You're so pompous" review, maybe you can consider that you're plunking down money to see a totally brainless movie and make sun of it along with the rest of us?

    He's not attacking YOU. He's saying the movie isn't good and saying it in a very funny and sarcastic way. I bet you've never been sarcastic ever, right? ;-)

  • Ryan Ambrose

    You're adorable.

  • Mrcreosote

    Mock and droll. Rhymes with troll, so I know you've heard of it. You say pompous like it's a bad thing! Let's break that word down...pomp, which is the cool part of pomp and circumstance (two of the new transformers BTW) and ous, which is the final syllable of bulbous which as we all know is just an awesome descriptor in the vein of turgid or pulsating. So let's wear that mantle proudly! Also it's not lower class, for you it's steerage.

  • sherryb23

    Are we sure this isn't another Bay pseudonym?

  • Mrs. Julien

    Christ, I miss Pookie.

  • Mrcreosote

    Shut up shut up shut up! Say that name three times and he appears!!

  • Jezzer

    What, Pookie?

  • Mrs. Julien

    STOP SAYING, "POOKIE!"

  • general rhubarb

    Pookie. I miss Pookie so much!

  • foolsage

    Oh, great, now you've done it.

  • emmalita

    No. I went to see Edge of Tomorrow and X-Men: DoFP largely on the positive reviews I read here.

    Why am I feeding the troll?

  • Cheetahdriver

    As did I (ok, I saw Edge of Tomorrow on PPV). Quite a few of my movie choices are based on reviews here.

  • stella

    What is happening here?

  • emmalita

    I don't even know.

  • stella

    Whatever it is, its super weird.

  • Guest

    This review sounds like it was written by a troll. How can someone spew so much hate for a freakin movie and want to die?

  • Mrs. Julien

    Cleverly spewing hate while simultaneously providing literate and accurate criticism of a movie is what Pajiba does with bad films. Each film gets the treatment it deserves. Serious movie? Serious review. Thought provoking movie? Thought provoking review. Cracked out movie? Please see above.

  • emmalita

    You are new here.

  • Guest

    Yes, and I won't be back with these childish reviews.

  • Jezzer

    Well, isn't that just a crying fucking shame? However will the site go on?

    TIME TO PACK UP THE WEBSITE AND CLOSE THE DOORS, DUSTIN! JIMMY JAMES IS DISPLEASED!

  • stardust
  • emmalita

    Best use of N'sync EVER.

  • Rykker

    Is this the Nashville country star Jimmy James?

  • Okay, but we'll save a seat for ya if you ever locate your sense of humor. ;-)

  • TK
  • sherryb23

    [claps]

  • Mrs. Julien

    You must be new here.

  • Dennis Albert Ramirez

    i hear what you're saying. and i agree, TK. but i'm still totally gonna netflix (well, illegally stream it, as i dont have netflix) this. and not even in an ironic way. i just like seeing live-action transformers. i always wanted em as a kid, and even if i have to sit through hours and hours of terrible and offensive stories about humans, well, like i said, live-action transformers.

    i did also, however just watch Europa Report and The Raid 2, which were both awesome and get me points for hard-sci-fi drama and brilliant action respectively, so i'm due some points for a movie that combines the other extremes of those spectrums. Balance!

  • Mrcreosote

    Damn it you bastards how is that bounty hunter not two robots named Pop and Lock? Bay, you are getting sloppy with your broad, offensive stereotypes.

  • emmalita

    I wonder if Ken Watanabe (previously on my Pajiba 10 list) lost a bet, or got a new, very bad agent. I hope he made boatloads of cash from Godzilla and Transformers.

  • stella

    And maybe itll help him break into the American market? That would be so cool.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    He may not have seen his performance in either film but I'm sure he saw the beach house it built and that it looks SPECTACULAR.

  • emmalita

    I really hope so.

  • lingli

    I like to think of it as the Michael-Caine-in-Jaws-2 line of reasoning.

  • "Eventually, all this loud, garish, shiny nonsense comes to a head...after such an endless parade of hideously trite
    dialogue, exposition-for-dummies, and two hours of deafening,
    headache-inducing, incoherent action...you don’t care.
    You just want it to be over with. The entire agonizing waste of
    dollars and talent is the culmination of four films worth of excess and
    arrogance and steroid-laced bread and circus, and you just want it to end"

    I recommend that you save this paragraph, as it could be applied to virtually every goddamn superhero movie made in the last three years, as well as every superhero movie that will be made in the next three.

    Shit, the sentiment can be applied to just about every "major" studio release and Hollywood in general. Just put a goddamn bird on Johnny Depp's head.

  • idiosynchronic

    So I'm really confuzzled . . the bad Transformer (and I did look this up) is called Lockdown, and the Transformer every 6 year-old has been dying to see is Grimlock? *groans*

  • JosephRBrust

    There is no need for that kind of run time! Especially when the movie can be summed up as: "Boom. Crash. *random robot noises*. Father and daughter learning lessons. More boom. More crash." http://to.ly/zX0T

  • emmalita

    Spam.

  • Eyal Narkiss

    It's only that long so they can give enough screen time to the products placed

  • gorge jung

    The only reason I would've watched this at all was that I heard TJ Miller talking about being in this on a podcast. Lame.

  • stardust

    TK, if Dustin's going to keep making you watch these movies then he's going to need to do a Kickstarter to pay for your nursing home when your brain melts for good and the dementia sets in before you turn 50.

  • David Durkee

    Blah, blah, blah. Going to see a Transformers movie and expecting a good story is like going to see a hooker and expecting a relationship....

  • Mrcreosote

    No, no, no. You went to see Pretty Woman.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Do you understand the concept of a movie review?

  • Jezzer

    People with crappy taste in movies are so touchy now.

  • Anderbot

    I actually think I have the "Fucklock" transformer in my childhood collection. I kept it in its sealed plastic and now I think it's worth $50!

    And that's sadly less than it would cost to take the whole family to see this steaming pile.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Did you talk to the good people in fan fiction? I suspect a certain Cumberbatchy portion of the community may have copyrighted the name.

  • Bert_McGurt

    "Mark Wahlberg, in between fretting about his daughter being a teenager (guys, this is going to sound surprising, but he’s overprotective and doesn’t like her dating boys)..."

    Who better to teach a blue-eyed blonde teenager about the dangers of boys than Mahky Mahk? Exhibit A:

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Cade Yeager, true all-American hero, saving the world and protecting his daughtah's chastity one Decepticon at a time.

  • Calla Dain

    What are the Decepticons going to do to her chastity? Never mind, I don't want to know.

  • BlackRabbit

    It's a new device called a Fucklock. That's why the Deception is after him-he's filling his Amazon order.

  • Which version of TJ Miller's hair shows up?

  • Mrs. Julien

    I read a lot of [cough] genre fiction and even as a woman as inured as I am to all the Lucians, Sebastians, and Claytons, I have to say "Cade Yeager" is pretty eye roll worthy.

  • TheAggroCraig

    That name sounds so forcibly down-home-aw-shucks that it's kind of insulting. Which begs the question, how is there not a country music star named Cade Yeager? If there isn't one already.

  • stardust

    Besides the ridiculousness of the name, let's get real about it for a second. No male person over the age of 8 is going to be named Cade. That name and all it's relations didn't start showing up until at least 8-10 years ago.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I grew up in rural Texas and my neighbor was named Cade, born 1976. Hate to burst your bubble, but that name may literally be the most accurate thing in the entire movie.

  • stardust

    Ah! I guess it just made it's way over to the East Coast around 8-10 years ago.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Every time I start to read the review, I got stuck at the name. Was that really the best name they had? Did the Simpsons copyright Max Power?

  • The guys from MST3K wouldn't let them use Bulk Vanderhuge or Slate Slabrock.

    EDIT: Damnit, Matty ninja'ed me further on down the thread.

  • emmalita

    It is one of 10 acceptable names for a hero from Texas.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I thought every man from Texas was named Sam Houston?
    (I actually did know a guy named Sam Houston from Texas and he was awesome)

  • I went to Sam Houston elementary in Texas. So yep, there's quite few of 'em running around named after this guy.

  • Mrs. Julien

    What are the other 10?

    1. Max Power
    2. Rex Stetson
    3. Ace Cannon
    4. Austin Magnum
    5. Colt Laredo
    6. Clint Flintlock
    7. Spurs Larouche
    8. Dallas Houston
    9. Grift McShane
    10. e jerry powell

    Their women need names, too. I'll start:

    1. Cleome Bushfire

    Now you:

  • MissAmynae

    11. Chuck fucking Norris.

    And Spurs Larouche snuck in from Louisiana. his real name is Pierre.

  • stella

    Rex Stetson? Grift McShane? Im dying.

  • Mrcreosote

    Um, no Lash? And you claim to read trashy books?

  • Mrs. Julien

    I don't read the cowboy ones.

  • emmalita

    Not Max, Rex, Austin, Spurs, Dallas or Grift. You are such a Canadian with your anti-Texas stereotypes. It's Cade, Colt, Clint, Chase, Dylan, Jett, Jake, some others, and e jerry powell

  • Mrs. Julien

    They're Texas hero names. Aren't stereotypes kind of the point? Like the Canadian superheroes Lance Pemmican, Gord Canuck, and Pucks Poutine.

  • I have no idea how or why but I swear to you here that I will work your Canadian Superhero names into my book. Pinkie swear.

  • Mrs. Julien

    DEAL!

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