How has Transformers: Age Of Extinction come to be? The simple answer is; money, lots and lots and then even more money. Prior to Age Of Extinction’s release the Transformers franchise had already grossed an earth obliterating $2.7 billion at the global box office. Since Age Of Extinction’s release it’s broken the $3 billion mark and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. So the truth is it matters little what you read here about Michael Bay’s latest round of giant robots using Earth as their personal battlefield, you’ve already decided if you’re going to see it or not irrelevant of what is written. So, if you’re going to see it, off you pop, we’ll meet back in THREE HOURS! Yes, you read that right. Age Of Extinction is nearly three hours long. Take a bottle of water, remember to relieve yourself before and maybe take a pillow.
You’re back! Excellent, so how do you feel? It’s normally at this point you find a short little plot synopsis but this being Transformers there’s little to talk about. But here goes; After the events of the last film the Transformers have been deemed enemies of earth, bar one or two Autobots who have been granted sanctuary by the US government. But that doesn’t seem to be stopping shady CIA operative Kelsey Grammer using mysterious Transformer Lockdown to seek-out Autobots before handing their carcasses over to Stanley Tucci’s Steve Jobs-like technical wizard Joshua Joyce, who has figured out how to tap into the Transformer genome in order to manipulate their technology. Enter Mark Wahlberg’s Texan inventor who happens to have stumbled on a banged-up, familiar looking old truck that turns out to be Optimus Prime. Before long Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager (yes, that’s his name) is out of his depth with black-op soldiers all over his lawn and having to make a run for it with his 17-year-old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and her rally driving boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor).
The truth is that the plot probably offers up more hope than it actually delivers. A scene near the opening of the movie makes it abundantly clear that Michael Bay is fully aware of the films he’s created; as Wahlberg enters a run down old cinema he and the proprietor discuss the “death of cinema”. Michael Bay is NOT the death of cinema, but he may be the death of narrative cinema. Transformers’ plot is so irrelevant that characters enter and leave for no good reason other than to offer a bit of exposition or fill-in-the-blanks dialogue. Ask yourself at the end of the film what the point in Sophia Myles’ character was? None, she’s there for no other reason than they needed another hard-hitting, tough-talking female character in an attempt to appease the perving on a 17-year-old character who spends her early scenes wearing hot-pants and being shot like a Victoria Secrets model; all legs and low-shots gazing up at her. Just to reiterate, her character is 17-years-old.
So what you get is Michael Bay’s kinetic, often jaw-dropping brand of action extravagance. The camera glides, drops, gets thrown and chucked from one scene to another, and so do the audience. It’s dizzying, disorientating and often impressive to see quite so much money quite literally being blown-up on screen. Every slow-mo shot – which if you took even half of them out would probably reduce the running time by a good thirty minutes – is filled with debris, dust motes and other floaty things to highlight just how much carnage you are witnessing. The human cast are flung around the screen like rag-dolls with little regards to the physical damage the human body can endure but that’s all they really are, rag-dolls for Michael Bay to make dance while his robots make hay.
The problem is that while Bay knows how to blow everything up in style he has no interest in involving us in character development or plot. What Transformers: Age Of Extinction is very good at though is product placement. Almost every scene is littered with enough brand power to make you walk out of the cinema, your brain no longer your own, and head to the shops to buy everything you’ve just witnessed robots fight around. In short, Age Of Extinction may be the biggest budget incarnation of The Shopping Channel ever conceived. From a man who made his name in commercials before moving into movies it seems Bay has never really given up selling things for a living.
Transformers: Age Of Extinction is not a film per say. It is a marketing tool, a piece of cinema that lures you in with the promise of dinosaurs before transforming into the longest marketing exercise you could possibly imagine. When you record a TV show and watch it back later you fast-forward through the commercial breaks right? The same will also be done with Transformers: Age Of Extinction in years to come.