Movie review: Yes, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” sucks, but why?

  • Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures
From the July 10, 2014 edition

In less-than-shocking news, Michael Bay’s latest “Transformers” movie was not screened for critics in Columbus. This is often an indication that a movie studio does not think reviews will be favorable. In this case, they were obviously right.

“How bad can it be?” I thought to myself. So I decided to see it over the holiday weekend. And it’s bad. It’s a big, hot, fire-spewing turd of a movie. On the bright side, it’s also unbearably long.

In the landmark Supreme Court case Michael Bay Fans v. Film Critics, fans leveled the well-worn defense that critics are no-fun snobs who overthink the mindless action of Bay films. I say you are underthinking them.

See, here’s the thing. I was a kid once. I can still enjoy the concept of car-robots beating the crap out of each other. I think explosions can be pretty cool.

That’s not the problem with Bay’s “Age of Extinction.” The problem is that it goes out of its way to be incoherent and that, at 2 hours and 45 goddamn minutes long, it’s about an hour and a half too long. The problem, dare I say it, is that Michael Bay overthinks things.

Seriously, you have to go out of your way to screw this up, and Bay does. Setting “Age of Extinction” years after the last film, he hits the reset button on the cast (denying us some Shia LaBeouf jokes).

Mark Wahlberg plays a struggling Texas inventor named, I kid you not, Cade Yeager. His daughter (Nicola Peltz) is the latest in the line of short-shorts-and-low-tops-wearing damsels-in-distress, despite the fact that Bay establishes repeatedly that she’s only 17. The Yeagers' home and workspace looks like an American flag factory exploded. There are other characters, some of which are robots. I have a hard time telling any of them apart.

“Age of Extinction” has the pace of an oscillating house fan, going back and forth between boring exposition and bursts of action in which you suddenly have no idea WTF is going on. The visual effects are great, but Bay’s camera style and Monster-Energy-Drink-fueled editing don’t let them sink in.

It’s loud. It’s long. And it made a ton of money, so you can count on more. Thanks for nothing, Michael Bay fans.