If you make a movie about giant robots fighting each other across a metropolitan landscape you pretty much have me in your corner from the get-go, you have to really go out your way to lose me, you’d have to do something insanely stupid like having the robots being pissed on by a small dog or worse to have the robots pissing on another person, you’d need to include racist Stepin Fetchit type robots, and do something bizarre like give a giant robot truck-nuts. Of course with Michael Bay involved these are exactly the kinds of things you’re going to find in his giant robot movie. He is a man who can take a simple action sequence and edit so frenetically that it is almost incompressible to an audience, who thinks the female lead being splayed across a motorbike like a Maxim cover model is a character moment, and he is the undisputed king of Military Porn (Michael Bay never met a jet fighter he didn’t like or at least one he wouldn’t shoot flying by in loving slow motion). I wasn’t even a big fan of the original cartoon and yet he still managed to piss me off, but three movies later and a fourth one now in theaters he’s still raking in butt loads of cash, so what the hell do I know?
This latest installment takes place roughly four years after Transformers: Dark of the Moon and I’m already excited because Shia LaBeouf is nowhere to be seen. In his place we have Mark Wahlberg as Texan inventor Cade Yeager so don’t get too excited. The story kind of centers around a Black-Ops division of the C.I.A that has been hunting the Autobots and killing or capturing them, it is led by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) who is in league with an evil Transformer bounty Hunter named Lockdown who wants to bring Optimus Prime to The Creators for some reason. Also in the mix is Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) who plays a billionaire CEO of a “Technology of the Future” type company and he is in cahoots with Attinger who is supplying him with Decepticon and Autobot bodies for dissection so he can build his own Transformers with his supply of “Transformium” that he has had his people digging up all over the globe. And as if three different villains weren’t enough we also get the resurrection of Megatron for a pointless subplot that I guess will pay off in the sequel. Now if any of that seemed to make sense to you then I’ve done a better job than Michael Bay.
Now I’m not sure why one would cast Mark Wahlberg as an inventor, he couldn’t even pull off convincing high school science teacher in The Happening, but at least here he is portraying a failed science guy, and he has a sexy daughter Tessa Yeager (Nicola Peltz) who is seventeen but secretly dating a twenty year old race car driver Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor) much to her dad’s chagrin. These three are our main human protagonists and though none of them reached the annoying levels achieved by Sam Witwicky in the first three films I still couldn’t give a tinker’s damn about them. The only human I found at all entertaining was Stanley Tucci’s billionaire inventor and that is mostly due to the fact that the character is being played by Stanley Tucci and not by anything in the script because as written it is a horrible character with an arc that makes no sense whatsoever. While Kelsey Grammer’s performance as the evil C.I.A stooge is so phoned in that I wondered if AT&T charged extra billing.
This is a Michael Bay film so no one should go in expecting a movie with nuanced characters inhabiting a tight plot but his level of not caring about anything but action has reached new levels here, and boy do you get a lot of action. Action, action, action! I will give him credit that the editing wasn’t as frenetic as in some of his past films, and the fight scenes only devolved into annoying shaky-cam a couple of times but overall you could tell what was going on, you just didn’t care.
• Military operations can’t locate or track Optimus Prime who is driving across the flat landscape of Texas.
• Missiles fired by evil Black-Ops soldiers or Evil-Transformers apparently have no targeting ability.
• The three humans are indestructible. The girl actually smashes through the trailer of a transport truck while hanging out of Optimus Prime’s hand without suffering so much as a hangnail.
• Whalberg and Nicola Peltz had better romantic chemistry than what we see between her and Shane Dyson who is supposed to be her boyfriend.
• China’s military has the worst response time regarding giant robots battling through the streets of Hong Kong.
• Surprisingly little U.S. military action for a Michael Bay film.
• Optimus Prime riding a fire breathing robot T-Rex is pretty damn cool.
If someone were to write a biography about Michael Bay the filmmaker it would most likely be subtitled “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” For he is a man who simply does not seem to care about story or character. As long as things are explodey and are flying at the screen he thinks he’s done his job, and for the many people who were cheering the events as they unfolded on screen maybe he has, but for me it’s just a shallow light show with no soul.