Monday, 7 July 2014

REVIEW - TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (MICHAEL BAY)


There's one major problem with Michael Bay's Transformers films. Just the one, amid plenty of more minor problems, but boy is it major. It's that they have characters. It's that they're not just relentless action and destruction (though it feels, at times, like they are). It's that Bay refuses to acknowledge his strengths, as limited as they may be, as a director and continues to return to those characters. Not even just the people - the transformers too, with their inane banter and cartoon-character voices. Be it a small moment, shoehorned between brainless action sequences, or an entire storyline, Bay finds a way to bring the characters back into the film, as if to remind us that it does actually have a screenplay and isn't merely one visual effect after another. And, wouldn't you know it, the human characters tend to get in the way of those  effects. There's definitely a certain brilliance to the incessant mayhem of monolithic metal figures waging  war upon one another in densely populated parts of the world, a caustic glory to the garish violence and Bay's horrendously frenetic style of filmmaking (it's barely a style, more of an impulse), a purity to the mixture of ugliness on a technological level and incompetence on a technical level. And to argue that it's far from fun to watch, or that Bay's frame-fucking restlessness and the sheer length of this film will drive most audience members with above-average IQs to  distraction is probably beside the point - this isn't a movie for that half of the population, so why should we care? Well, our opinions matter as much as those whose wretched enthusiasm for this dreck has already earned it hundreds-of-millions of dollars, and my opinion on Transformers: Age of Extinction is that it's dreadful. A structural mess with a garbled political subtext, horrid scripting and acting, a truly repugnant rape-and-rescue attitude to its lead female, and some admirable sound and visual effects. No matter what the self-aware ironists championing this franchise online would have you believe, that's not enough to make a good film, and every extra punishing minute (165 in total, reportedly) of that only makes things worse. In the end, there's one major problem with Age of Extinction: it exists.