By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With this fourth installment in the Transformers franchise from director Michael Bay, I’ve been magically transformed from a bored viewer into a really bored viewer.
Nothing like a another heaping helping of more-is-less movie Bayhem.
And because three pyrotechnic exercises of 2½ hours each just wasn’t enough, we go beyond the trilogy composed of Transformers, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen with Transformers: Age of Extinction, the (gulp!) longest offering yet.
Would that extinction would kick in right about now. But don’t hold your breath.
Transformers: Age of Extinction, yet another science fiction adventure about warring, shape-shifting alien machines battling on Earth, full of product placement and sound and fury, signifying nothing, is the presumable kickoff of a new trilogy hard on the heels of Bay’s first trilogy.
(A grateful world exults.)
This reboot, featuring a new cast, continues the endless conflict between Autobots (good) and Decepticons (bad).
Mark Wahlberg inherits the lead role from Shia LaBeouf, who starred in the first three films. Wahlberg plays a single father and aspiring inventor who, along with his 17-year-old daughter (Nicola Peltz) and his assistant (T.J. Miller), discovers that the beat-up Freightliner he plans to dismantle is actually a disguised and deactivated Optimus Prime, who is in hiding and has lost all faith in humanity because the government is in the process of hunting down and murdering all the remaining transformers.
(Haven’t we been here before?)
As a line of Hasbro products has inspired all this creativity, that makes four feature-length toy commercials that seem a heck of a lot longer than their already extravagant running times.
Once again, undeniable technical slickness presents itself unaccompanied by context or dramatic interest. Once again, flesh-and-blood actors play second fiddle to hardware. And once again, robot-on-robot fight scenes aimed at robo-carnage-craving fans combine to form a sizable sleeping pill.
Kelsey Grammer as a paranoid government official and Stanley Tucci as an arrogant designer who wants to build his own robot also climb aboard for an adventure that takes place four years after the invasion and destruction of Chicago depicted in chapter three and goes on for perhaps an hour more than is necessary or tolerable.
Bay (Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) remains an auteur aiming at an audience embracing Attention Deficit Disorder. His hyperactive movie, so enamored of incendiary explosions, perhaps like its audience, just cannot sit still.
Yes, it’s an action thriller, but so what?
In this case, he works from a script by Ehren Kruger -– writing his third Transformers epic -– that unashamedly gives us another hyperactive, mindless, bombastic, overwrought, bloated, and tedious amusement park ride, with truckloads of exposition that we couldn’t care less about.
Bay and Kruger may look like they’re concocting a movie, but what they’re really doing is selling lots and lots of toys.
Well, have at it while we revisit a begrudging 2 stars out of 4 for Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Will there be a fifth Transformers adventure, you ask? Of course — it’s already greenlit for 2016.