Review: Transformers 4: Age of lowered expectations

THIS is a piece of absolute shit.

And that would have been my review had Mr. Simpson not vetoed it. Sadly, I have to inform you in some greater detail as to just how catastrophic this is. This is not just as an abominable manifestation of all that is wrong on a basic, fundamental film-making level; it goes deeper than that. This is a symptom of an endemic cancer in the heart of cinema. This is not a drill. Transformers: Age of Extinction is crass, offensive, long, boring, insufferable, interminable, endless, avaricious, meretricious crap, but you don’t need me to tell you that; you, like me, are a speck in the span of millions of gullible saps that paid currency to see it. $922 million at the box office.

I have personal history with this series. I went to see the second Transformers film when I was 14 years old. I was young then. Naive. The notion of watching giant robots punch each other for a couple of popcorn hours was an appealing one. No. Revenge of the Fallen was the first time I ever hated a movie. I hated it. Hated, hated, hated, hated, loathed, abhorred, despised, hated it. I still do. I’ve forced myself to sit through it two additional times to compound my hate for it. I forced other people to sit down and watch it with me. I am a monster. To atone for this, and to perform my societal duty as a self-described film ‘critic’, I went to watch Age of Extinction (hilariously misspelled as Age of Distinction in my local cinema listings) alone.

Alone, I sat through 165 minutes of this ‘film’. Alone. No one to talk to. No one to compare nail clippings with while Kelsey Grammer whored himself out. No one to heave sighs with when T.J. Miller said a single fucking word. No one to silently mouth a myriad of obscenities whenever John Goodman, Ken Watanabe and John DiMaggio humiliated themselves by opening their pay-cheque stuffed mouths. No one to exchange horrified glances with as Optimus Prime, paragon of integrity and even-handed justice, ripped the face off a fellow Transformer while yelling, “I’ll kill you!” I sat through this ‘film’ alone, so you don’t have to. But you already have, haven’t you? $922 million at the box office. We are enablers. We are allowing this to happen. We are allowing this leering, jingoistic nonsense to infect our cinemas and poison our brains. It will not stop. I can’t stop it. No one can.

About as coherent as it gets

To call this ‘destruction porn’ is to do a disservice both to destruction and porn. Destruction has been done with more elegance and spectacle; pornography boasts better narratives. If Michael Bay wasn’t one of the highest-grossing directors on the planet, he’d be making porn. He used to film Victoria’s Secret commercials at least; hell, Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley – the pair of legs masquerading as a character from Dark of the Moon – literally is a Victoria’s Secret model.

This is why he was the perfect director for the fantastic Pain & Gain: Vile, narcissistic morons living a disgustingly opulent perversion of the American Dream in Miami. Perfect. That’s why the crash back to reality is all the more painful with Age of Extinction. He can do so much better than this awful, awful trash, and yet he persistently chooses not to. He tempts us with the tiniest hint of soul and then proceeds to flagrantly churn out this soulless drivel, all with a baseball cap and a shit-eating grin. It’s all made grimly hilarious when Marky Mark Wahlberg professes – with a straight face! – that his new Transformer buddies have souls.

Is this a joke? Is Michael Bay pulling the greatest cinematic prank of all time? I don’t know. The camera lingers on billboards solemnly stating “Remember Chicago”, presumably intimating that we as an audience recall anything about Dark of the Moon‘s mind-erasing hour of battle sequence finale. Don’t worry though – they blow Chicago up. Again. They blow up Hong Kong too. With dinosaurs. When the sight of Optimus Prime, wielding a giant sword and shield and riding a fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus robot into battle is met with sighs of derision and not something resembling awe… I don’t even know.

Awe-inspiring for all the wrong reasons

It’s all so utterly juvenile and yet completely unsuitable for anyone with a mental capacity above the age of five – no child could enjoy this nonsense because it is two hours and forty-five minutes long and it is so BORING. This film is longer than the original cut of Apocalypse Now. Longer than Kurosawa’s Ran. And Bay actually has the temerity to suggest that his film is “epic”, thus placing his puerile maelstrom of crashing and banging and noise on the same level as, say, Doctor ZhivagoLawrence of ArabiaLord of the Rings. I don’t need to tell you how wrong that is, but I’m also unsurprised: This is the same ego that spat out Pearl Harbor.

You don’t need me to tell you this is terrible. You don’t need me to tell you not to see it. Even if you’re looking for some stupid couple of hours of action spectacle, this is not suitable for your needs. Watch Pacific RimGodzilla, any of the Marvel films – ANYTHING. Please, please don’t hand over your hard-earned money to Transformers: Age of Extinction. This is as bad as a cinema experience can get. I came into this film with cautious optimism; I came out with clenched fists and a sore arse. $922 million.

I cannot stress this enough:

Transformers: Age of Extinction is a piece of absolute shit, and I hate it.

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