Cinematic Releases: Transformers 4 - Age of Extinction

Michael Bay and his band of transforming planetary refugees battle it out at the box office this weekend. Find out what JG thought of this latest installment.

"Argh! I hate humans
so much! They're soooo
You would think that it would be impossible for Michael Bay to make a worse film than Revenge of the Fallen, but it has been done. Behold, ladies and gentleman, Transformers: Age of Extinction, the very worst film I've seen in 2014 so far.

Michael Bay must be having a go at us. It's almost as if he's now deliberately trying to make the worst possible Transformers film to test just how far you could go before Paramount decides it has any shred of dignity left. How far can he go before audiences stop lapping up this sludge and throwing their wallets at the screen?

I have to admit, I'm part of the problem. I paid to see this. I also paid to see the other three films and bought them all on blu-ray. In my defense, I know full well that they are pretty bad films, but I appreciate them from a purely technical perspective. The sound design is immaculate, the visual effects are spectacular, there are typically a few dozen shots that I really adore, even some—some—of the comic relief is genuinely funny to me. Even through the absurd mess of a plot, I have always found several elements I can enjoy on a selfish level. Age of Extinction had almost nothing redeemable to me.

Somehow they managed to waste the talents of one of my favorite young comedians, T.J. Miller. I've seen him perform at Zanies Comedy Club in Chicago and have been a fan ever since. Fortunately, I had the chance to meet the guy a few years back and he's as equally charming on stage as he is off the stage. It seemed that Michael Bay wanted nothing to do with neither his charm nor wit and the character was given virtually zilch to work with.

"Hi, I'm Stanley Tucci. I'm an amazing actor who carries around
a plot device in this movie."

Nicola Peltz, the melodramatic she-face that graced us with her brilliant performance as Katara in the exquisitely awful, The Last Airbender, lends her superb talents as a useless damsel in high heels. She spends the entirety of the film trying to look like she's crying over non-existent daddy issues and running toward danger or conveniently dodging alien missile blasts. The only exceptional element of her performance is that I'd rather be watching Megan Fox.

The only thing more useless in this film is her boyfriend played by a pretty-faced douche bag. I'd rather listen to Shia Labeouf scream "No" on loop for three straight hours.

Speaking of characters—what are those? How do they work? The core family plot is tacked on tripe with no reason to care whatsoever for any character for any reason for any amount of time. For action to be "intense" there has to be a reason for its intensity. There has to be something fueling it. There has to be a reason for us to not want to see our lead characters die. There has to be a reason why we don't want them in danger. There has to be a strong purpose for them to not be dead. I wished all these idiots would have died an hour into this drawn out test of my patience. The more time they spent not being dead, was more time wasted watching them yell at each other inside of cars.

Related: Win the
Transformers Trilogy
on blu-ray.
I would be shocked if Ehren Kruger, the beautiful poet that has graced us with this immaculate plot, isn't a 12 year-old boy that's kept in a cage and fed money and candy bars to write Hollywood blockbusters. The writing is atrocious. Here, in this film alone, lie some of the most profoundly awful lines I've ever heard in any film. Have an example, good reader. There were five good solid minutes of a giant ship sucking up metal objects then violently dropping them to the ground, trying to kill Autobots, I think? After those five long minutes of digesting this complex feat of script-writing acrobatics, Mark Wahlberg is tasked with the honorable mission of explaining to the one blind, nearly comatose audience member what exactly is it we're looking at. He literally shouts out loud, "It's sucking up all the metal then dropping it!" Thank you! Thank you so much, Ehren and Michael! Thank you for clearing that up for us.

How is the inclusion of a line like that not a clear indication that Michael Bay thinks we're all complete morons?

It doesn't end there, folks. The writing is appalling from beginning to end. No matter how you feel about Bayformers, Optimus Prime has always been the ultimate soldier. He's as honorable of a patriot and warrior as they come. He has always been a character I've looked up to growing up. He's been a role model for the respect all living things deserve. For whatever reason, the 12 year-old Ehren Kruger figured that's kinda dumb. How about, for no good reason, Optimus Prime is, like, a vengeful, bloodthirsty, savage? Yeah! That makes complete sense! He's only been fighting an ongoing war on a distant super-advanced planet for his entire existence facing off against gigantic, brutally vicious robot warriors, and a few primitive flesh bags on a small insignificant planet are what inspire a Prime (only the most distinguished, and classy combatants of his entire race) to throw everything he's ever believed in out the window and start murdering human beings. Seriously, Ehren Kruger? You get paid for this?

"Daddy, life is so unfair!!! I got paid for this."

Writing, schmiting. No one cares, you snobby film critic. We just want to see things blow up. Well, guys and gals, you're in luck, because things blow up. Whoa! Never seen stuff blow up in a movie before! An argument can be made that Michael Bay is learning a thing or two about framing action so that you can at least see it. That's wonderful, but framing bad action adequately doesn't make the action not still bad. All that means is that we can see how dull it is better. Get ready for a shocker. I like Michael Bay. I love how he puts together an action sequence. What? That's preposterous. Even this dummy, writing this very review, got nothing from any action segment in this film. Not even Dinobots could save this utter flat line of an action film. It's just so uninspired. We've seen it already. Michael Bay recycles everything we've seen before in the last three films. Slow motion spinning and firing. Vehicle falls through ceiling. Vehicles flying up through ceiling. Cutting robots and cars in half. Passengers fly out of Autobot—Autobot catches passengers. Thankfully, like the other wasted talent in this charade, the Dinobots got a grand total of a generous estimate of 10 minutes of screen time before they could get any more boring.

"Alright, Grimlock. You got less than ten minutes to bite stuff! Go!"
Not even the 3D is good. It appeared as if the majority of the film was post-converted. The easy way to tell if a film wasn't shot natively in 3D is if people's heads have little three-dimensional details outside of being basketballs with mouths. If this was a native 3D film, they also managed to screw this up, too. Even their sorry excuse for floating "ash" looked like a cheap particle effect in iMovie. In fact, it looked like unfinished CG.

Bumblebee was totally
hitting on Michelle.
What a perv!
The score isn't cool either. They couldn't even provide me the mercy of a decent score for me to enjoy! There is almost nothing to like! If you enjoy recycled explosions, and monotonous action which we can get almost anywhere else and better, then you might enjoy this. If you want nothing inventive, not even on a purely roller coaster ride level, you might get a kick out of this. If seeing stuff blow up, like it always has, only from a different camera angle with a different colored robot jumping from it, then you might love Age of Extinction. If you can tolerate unrelatable, half-assed family morals, and flat, effortless comedy, you might want to stuff more money into this bloated, dead franchise and keep its nerves twitching into yet another sequel that everyone except for me is going to see.

Do not—I beg of you—waste your time with this film. For the love of our children. For the love of education and goodness around the world, please, do not give them any more money. No sacrifice, no victory. You have to do what's right. Not only is this the worst film I've seen all year, it is by far the worst Transformers anything that has ever been made, and the very worst film Michael Bay will hopefully ever make.

-JG Barnes