Friday, July 4, 2014
Transformers: Age of This-Movie-Should-Be-Extinct (a movie review post)
Also, I like dinosaurs, and I know I've talked about that before. The merging of the two things in 1984ish with the introduction of the Dinobots was, to put it simply, amazing. It was with no small amount of excitement that I received the news of the Dinobots being in Transformers: Age of Extinction. And my 13-year-old, who inherited my love of dinosaur robots, completely geeked out about it. Like, a virtual geek meltdown. We went to the early showing of the movie because my son was so excited about it.
The short review of this movie is that even my 13-year-old walked out of the movie like, "What was that?" He really enjoyed seeing the Dinobots, especially Grimlock, but he, my 13-year-old, had a list of all the stupid things in the movie, so, considering he falls right in line with "target audience," he shouldn't have that kind of list.
To put it simply: This movie is a mess. I haven't seen a movie with a story so all over the place since Robocop 3 (which upset me greatly because it was Frank Miller that had made such a mess of it). There were just too many story lines all trying to happen at once and it would have taken at least two more hours of movie to make sense out of them, and that's saying a lot for a movie that's already bumping the three hour mark. Someone really needed to step in and tell Ehren Kruger, "Stop writing! It's time to edit," which I'm pretty sure they just skipped.
In order to keep this to a somewhat readable length, I'll just talk about a few of the biggest issues in the movie for me. There will be spoilers.
1. Lockdown. Lockdown is the robotic villain of the movie; the problem is not so much with him as it is with the story around him. See, he's not an Autobot or a Decepticon but some kind of Transformer bounty hunter working for "The Creators" who want Optimus Prime back. As it turns out, Optimus is some kind of knight for them who deserted his post at some point in the past. It appears that Optimus remembers being this knight but has no knowledge of these Creators. And, you know, as if Optimus needs some other special thing attached to him. Mostly, though, the story here is too sketchy to follow; there are just too many "Why?"s involved.
2. The movie opens with Optimus near death. Again, why is it we're always dealing with the death or near death of Optimus Prime? [Okay, that's really because, other than Bumble Bee, he is the only Autobot that goes from movie to movie, and we could ask "Why?" about that, too. Personally, I'm annoyed that, basically, every movie, they introduce a whole new collection of Transformers. Where are they coming from?] He's found by Cade Yeager, who thinks he's just a truck he can strip down for parts but discovers he's really a Transformer; at which point, he begins repairing him. They make a huge deal out of the fact that Optimus is in such bad shape and that they have no way to fix him unless they can get him to the other Autobots. He may not make it.
Then they get attacked, and he takes some more beating, and it's a wonder he can still function. Then they find out that Ratchet (the Autobot medic) is dead and Optimus has no good way of getting repaired. I suppose, by that point, they were tired of dealing with the fact that Optimus was barely able to function, because they just have him scan a new big rig and take that form, and, voila!, he's all better! If that's all they need to do to become repaired, why ever bother to do anything else? Just scan a new vehicle. Or store your scan and re-use it. That whole bit was dumb.
3. The banter. The characters have a continual flow of inappropriate conversations during combat situations. Part of the problem is that "Cade Yeager" is written just as if he's Sam Witwicky, and Wahlberg, as much as I like him, couldn't pull it off. None of the characters could, as the stream of mouth diarrhea flows from one character to the next, none of them believable in any way close to Shia LaBeouf (do you see the irony in that statement?).
4. The Dinobots. As my son said, there is no build up to them. They are a complete Deus ex machina. They're just prisoners in Lockdown's giant spaceship. At the point when the Autobots are going to be overwhelmed, Optimus releases them and threatens to kill Grimlock if they don't defend the Autobots. Hmm, yeah, that fits right in with the character of Optimus Prime. So the Dinobots destroy the Decepticons then go on their way. They also never speak, which was more than a little disappointing.
5. Everything to do with Lockdown's spaceship. The Autobots allow the humans to go off on their own. Dumb. There are booby traps. Dumb. Lockdown knows almost as soon as they've trespassed that he has unwanted guests, but he doesn't have a clue when Optimus disengages part of the ship. Dumb. Yes, I could go on.
6. Optimus Prime. This was a very unOptimus Optimus. He was angry, and I lost count of the number of times he said, "I'm going to kill you!" to people, robots, whoever. In fact, he's so full of anger and hate through most of the movie that it's actually out-of-character for him to stay and help the humans at the end of the movie. It was rather like, "Well, we're already here, so we may as well." Plus, he blasts off into space with his magically appearing boot jets at the very end. What the heck?
And, actually, I could just go on and on about the stupid in the movie, but there's not a lot of point in doing that. I'm sure you get the idea. So I was trying to think of any good points about it, but I'm not really thinking of any. Well, I did enjoy Stanley Tucci (he's difficult not to like), but he has the same problem all the characters have with random-seeming statements at inappropriate times which made his inevitability shaky at best. Still, he was better than most of the characters. Kelsey Grammer played a pretty good villain as the part was written, but it was hard to buy into the character. I mean, the President sends word that he wants to see him and his response is something along the lines of, "I don't have time for him." That doesn't make the character a badass; it makes him unbelievable. That's not what you say to your boss.
Um... some of the Transformers were pretty cool looking, like Drift and Crosshairs. Even Lockdown. That was offset by how ridiculous Hound was in robot form, though, so even that was a mixed bag.
Basically, unless you're just a die-hard Transformers fan, you should probably just skip this one. Even if you are a die-hard Transformers fan, you might want to skip this one.