Starring Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, TJ Miller, and the voices of Peter Cullen, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe and Frank Welker.
Directed by Michael Bay.
Critics have trashed it, and it’s on its way to being the lowest-grossing film yet of the Transformers franchise. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t immensely profitable.
1. Shia LaBeouf out; Mark Wahlberg in. We don’t for one second believe that Mark Wahlberg is from Texas, but I’ll take his Cade over LaBeouf’s Jake any day. In fact, Wahlberg here is doing the same thing Bruce Willis did in Armageddon. he’s leading the group, but he also has a gorgeous daughter being pursued by a stud boyfriend. If we’re going to be here almost three hours, I’d at least like to like my host.
2. The patriotism. Michael Bay loves Americana. He’s not shy about flying American flags in the background, or celebrating working-class ethic.
3. The Michael Bay blue-orange sheen. I like the look of Bay movies. He makes a lot of use of sunrises and sunsets, and lights coming in through cracks in the back. His music-video background always comes through. In fact, I’d contend Rock of Ages would have been a much better movie if Bay had directed it.
1. It’s 165 minutes long! This is not a World War II epic or some wordy Tarantino piece. It’s a freaking Transformers movie. Same thing that tends to sink Jerry Bruckheimer effects movies sinks this one. No reason this story couldn’t have been told 30 minutes shorter, let alone 45 minutes.
2. For being the beginning of a new trilogy, it’s still the same story. I called Transformers 2 the worst movie of its year because of the endless boring destructo-porn. Transformers 3 I liked more, but it still had an hour of buildings getting smashed through while giant robots fight. Transformers 4 essentially does the same thing. The finale here is in China, where buildings get smashed while giant robots fight.
3. The product placement. My goodness, the endless shameless product placement. Every shot of something get blown up features a different product’s billboard or advertisment somewhere in the background. Armani, Epson, Phillips… When someone has a beer, we have to get a close-up of the blue Bud Light bottle first.
4. The cartoon villainy… of Kelsey Grammer. His villain’s motives are this: he hates all alien robots, but he’s secretly working with evil alien robots so he can get rid of the good alien robots so he can get the material from them to build his own alien robots, and then make money. I’m pretty sure I got that right.
5. Bay’s old-school exploitation of teen girls. There are several leering shots of Nicola Peltz to make her as sexy as possible, but since she’s supposed to be 17, it just comes across as creepy.
6. The sequels. Transformers 5 will happen. There is nothing we can do to stop it. This must be read in Kelsey Grammer’s voice.
Overall, it was what I thought it would be, and yet it wasn’t. I was hoping by introducing all new human characters, it was going to go for something different, but that didn’t happen. So far it’s in my bottom five for the year.