The Critical Couple Reviews “Transformers: Age of Extinction”
Watching movies may be one of America's most popular date-night activities, but it can also be one of the most contentious. That's where critics and real-life couple Roy and Adriane step in, putting their relationship on the line so you don't have to.
The fourth installment of the Transformers franchise is a tour de force of stupidity. But it’s a Michael Bay film, so that’s to be expected. It has all of the director’s calling cards: a bloated run time, gratuitous close-ups of actresses’ behinds, conspicuous product placement, and a soundtrack loaded with so much nu metal that you begin cursing the heavens for your own sense of hearing. In fact, Transformers: Age of Extinction only has one thing going for it: it’s blissfully free of Shia LaBeouf, the actor-turned-tabloid-fodder who anchored the previous three films.
Unfortunately, Bay fills the void LaBeouf left behind with new, just-as-obnoxious characters. Take, for instance, Hound (voiced by John Goodman), one of the latest additions to the Autobot clan. Hound is a chatty, morbidly obese 'bot who spews unfunny one-liners faster than Bruce Vilanch. He’s the movie’s comic relief, but comic he’s not. Then there’s Mark Wahlberg as the human protagonist, Cade, a robotics expert who we know is smart because he occasionally wears glasses. The talented Wahlberg is clearly just dialing in this performance, giving stilted line readings and barely trying to hide his Boston accent even though the character is a Texan. It’s just another embarrassing piece in an already embarrassing puzzle. ★
Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction is a parable about immigration and xenophobia, and it offers a scathing indictment of abuse of military powers in the age of the Patriot Act. Just kidding, it's total fluff! But it does hint at these headier matters in a halfhearted attempt at relevance. Despite everything, the first hour is both ironically and intentionally fun. In the lead role of Cade Yeager—struggling inventor, overprotective dad, and Texan—Mark Wahlberg is a major trade-up from Shia LaBeouf, but so is an old sock. There's cheeky fun as Cade, his daughter, and comic relief T.J. Miller help revive the dormant Optimus Prime. But after that first hour, the milk gets sour fast, and you've got another whole movie's worth of time to smell it.
You get long, long scenes of pointless, padding dialogue, usually involving the daughter's boring boyfriend, Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor), who sucks like an actual Dyson. You get Autobots that have lost their charm and new bad 'bots that are just as dull. The effects? Top-notch and expensive as hell with gimmicky 3D that should make you say "Whoa.” But the thrill is gone. By the time Hong Kong is taking a beating, you're crashing hard—but you've been in this relationship with Bay for a long time, so you’re probably expecting as much. ★ 1/2
Skip this overlong dud. There are so many better ways to spend three hours of your life, like watching two good movies or writing a tersely worded letter to Michael Bay.