Please excuse me whilst I bang my head against a brick wall, repeatedly. Michael Bay, the least subtle director in Hollywood, returns with Transformer: Age of Extinction, the fourth installment in the series of robot smash-em-ups. The Baymeister has attempted to change the direction of his mega bucks franchise by replacing original cast members Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox with Mark Wahlberg and on-screen daughter, Nicola Peltz, who have taken on the lead roles.
Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager, a struggling inventor who conveniently finds lead Autobot, Optimus Prime, hiding out in an out-of-use cinema. Along with his teenager daughter, Tessa (Peltz), and her secret Irish rally driver boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor), the threesome join the Autobot family as they are tracked by a robot bounty hunter that is being supported by US government bigwig, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer).
The first 20 minutes lulls you into a false sense of security. Wahlberg is an impressive screen presence despite the cheesy, over-sentimental protective father act he has going on, but the odd wisecrack and cheeky comment here and there in the opening few scenes leads you to believe that this Transformers film might not actually be all that bad after all. Though before I go any further let me just state this: I was wrong. So very, very wrong. This is not taking the series in a new direction, it is simply papering over rubbish with some new faces and locations. It is essentially robot porn. 80% of Age of Extinction is glitzy machines fighting one another, and the only thing that changes is where on the planet they are doing that.
What do I really expect from a Michael Bay film, you ask? Well, what I watched in all honesty. However, do not paint it as something it is clearly not, and what most certainly it is not is ‘fresh’ and ‘different’. Whether in America or China, it is just good and bad pieces of high-tech metal hitting each other like some over-sized game of Robot Wars. Yeah, it looks nice and colourful on screen, but smashing buildings and turning over cars in a surprisingly empty major city gets pretty tedious after two hours of the same thing, and just feels like a carbon copy of the previous movie. It is just so pointlessly long and so painstakingly boring, that even the introduction of the cool looking Dinobots towards the end could not wake me from my Bay-induced slumber.
The characters themselves stink of unoriginality. The Dad – a first class mollycoddler – and daughter- mature beyond her years, longing for more freedom – is not a new concept, but at least Bay, for the first few minutes at least, tries to add some layers of context to his main players. Any emotional attachment though is soon lost amongst the fighting, the destruction and the expected Transformers sexual innuendos. The ever lovable Stanley Tuchi, who plays billionaire inventor, Joshua Joyce, is one of only few positives, bringing some energy and spirit to a character in a film so lacking of those qualities.
Despite the fact a good hour could have been easily left lying on the editors desk, Transformers will always hold an impressively large fan base. However, Age of Extinction is not just bad, it is worst in the series (and that is saying something) terrible. After the first battle sequence it just becomes one big hazy, dumb mess, leaving you not knowing exactly what is going on, only that, with still an age to go, you simply do not care.