Transformers: Age of Extinction isn’t so much a movie as watching one man just give up on even trying to do his job any more.
If I were to even attempt to go through everything wrong with the fourth Transformers film, I would wonder why I didn’t just finally sit down and write one of the many novels I’ve thought about producing over the years. The film is just filled with plot holes, deus ex machina contrivances, horrible acting, over used camera tricks, ham fisted product placements, racial stereotypes… in other words… it’s a Michael Bay film.
I would remiss if I didn’t lay some of the blame at screenwriter Ehren Kruger’s feet as well. He’s written three of the four Transformers films, so some of the blame belongs with him as well, but Bay is the true villain of this piece.
As I watched the movie I kept thinking about how Michael Bay had originally not wanted to return to direct this entry in the series feeling he had done enough with the other three. And it showed. As bad as the last three were, you never felt like Bay didn’t care, but this time around there was sloppiness in every corner of the frame. You could feel his boredom with the series pouring off the screen and washing over you. He just didn’t care. He showed up to collect a check, and that’s just what he did.
You have to wonder if this attitude trickled down to others in the production. In one scene the green screens weren’t even replaced. The performances by the actors were phoned in. Props were off (when stating how well you know a law, the card you carry for that law should match the number you said). It just felt like a haphazard amateur production and not a big budget blockbuster.
Of all the crimes of this film, two really stuck out to me: The statutory rape sub-plot and the length of the film.
This… was an actual sub-plot. When Cade (Mark Wahlberg) discovers his 17-year-old daughter is dating a 20-year-old, he threatens to call the police. Shane (Jack Reynor) then goes in to detail about how it isn’t statutory rape because of the “Romeo & Juliet” law in Texas.
Folks, there was a scene in a Transformers movie about why dating underage girls is just fine and dandy. I am not making a moral call on this situation, I am making a “Why is this in a film named for a race of giant robots?” This had no place in this film, and did nothing to strengthen the story. I actually think it would have been more interesting if she was 18 due to a few other scenes in the film, but at the end of the day, it just didn’t really matter.
Bay has never been able to wrap his head around the fact we don’t see Transformers movies for his paper-thin human characters. We want to see the giant robots we all love. They show up once in a while, but never shall they get in the way of conversations about the dangers of dating girls before they are of legal age.
So, beyond a scene dedicated to, “Hey, dating your underage daughter is legal,” we had a scene dealing with a real estate agent that had no legal right to be on Cade’s property.
It had already been established that Cade was broke… multiple times. It was mentioned by two other characters, unpaid bills in the mail, Tessa’s (Nicola Peltz) inability to afford to go to college and was later covered with an eviction notice. But you clearly weren’t getting the point, and that is why a real estate agent shows up with prospective buyers and tells Cade she can do this because he’s six months behind on his payments. No foreclosure has happened yet, but sure enough she was there… in a movie about giant robots. (Are you seeing a trend yet?)
This scene was played for comedy at a moment where none was needed. There was no tension that needed to be broken, and there is just no logical reason for this scene to exist on any level. As scenes go, it’s a short one at just one minute and three seconds, but it happens less than 13 minutes into the film. By this time the money problems had already been established so this was simply beating it into the skulls of the audience for no good reason and wasting valuable story establishment momentum.
While I don’t subscribe to any certain length for a film, I also don’t believe in having my time being wasted with useless information. If this were the only establishment of the money issues, fine, it would have been acceptable. But as just one of numerous commentaries on that character development, it was useless and repetitive and is indicative of many other pacing issues in the film.
So Much Suck
I decided to focus on just two things that stuck out to me that helped me make this movie suck, but believe me there were many, many more reasons why it deserves to be part of this series of movie posts. I opted to focus on crimes against basic storytelling.
It is doubtful that anyone sees a Transformers movie expecting high art, but I think they at least expect some basic structure that makes sense… I kid, of course they don’t, but Transformers: Age of Extinction took it to a whole new level.