Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Get out your robot dinosaurs and gun-swords, we're reviewing Transformers: Age of Extinction!

Cade Yeager(an actual name someone came up with played by Mark Wahlberg), a hapless inventor who is taken care of by his teenage daughter, Tessa(Nochola Peltz), discovers a beat-up truck that's actually Optimus Prime(Peter Cullen). When the CIA want to track down and kill all of the Transformers, Cade, Tessa and Optimus have to go on a journey to unite the Transformers, stop an evil company from making knock-off transformers, and save the Earth from the same bomb that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Real talk: If they came out and actually called it "Trans4mers" we'd all think it's the dumbest thing ever, but now that they haven't, it feels like there's something off, right? Like there's no way a movie this dumb shouldn't be called Trans4mers, right? And honestly, what's with them and what I can only guess is a deep-rooted fear of numerals? Is anyone going to remember these titles or be able to tell them apart after they've made six of them(which they're going to)? Can anyone remember the actual names of the last two without looking? Age of the Dark Spark? Dark Side of the Moon? Fear of the Fallen? Those sound right don't they?

Also: Cade Yeager???

Cade. Yeager. CADE YEAGER. Of the proud Yeager family, I presume.

Michael Bay is just pissed Godzilla beat him to naming their main character Ford isn't he?

Anyways, if you can't suss out that I'm having trouble in properly reviewing Trans4mers, I am. I mean, it's a Michael Bay Transformers movie. We don't expect these things to be good, right? But we still see them? That was basically my thought process for this. Not "Oh GOD there's no way I'm going to see another dumb Bayformers movie" but "There is another Transformers movie. There is no way I am expecting this to be good. I am definitely going to see it." We do this to ourselves. We have no one but ourselves to blame.

And really, it IS our fault, right? Not Michael Bay. Because oh man, this thing is terrible, but it made a BUTTload of money. Did Pacific Rim make this much domestically? Hell no! It barely scraped by(for big budget movie standards). And yet, it had the same basic premise of being a movie about robots punchin' monsters, and was ACTUALLY GOOD. But America instead went to see a movie with horrible female characters, casual racism, and a plot that makes no goddamn sense. This is why we can't have nice things. THIS IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD.

Ok, so, with the robot stuff, I mean it's basically the same robot action stuff from the previous movies. The designs aren't AS terrible but they're certainly still not good. And hey, robot dinosaurs that get a good fifteen minutes of screen time, that's cool. And I mean, Mark Wahlberg shoots stuff with a giant gunsword. This should be a movie I am interested in. But, ugh, Michael Bay is so not interested in making these damn movies. He is doing the equivalent of a kid mashing two transformer toys together for a story. It is not good.

But, Michael Bay can be good! I've seen it! Pain and Gain was a legitimately good movie! I enjoyed it! It was not awful! It's just, he is not a good fit for these kinds of movies because Michael Bay HATES humanity and thinks people are terrible people. There are a lot of scenes in this where the actions stop and characters just start screaming at each other and this is supposed to be comedic humor. It's supposed to be funny that these robots who are a force of good are being terrible at each other and hate each other and everyone. Maybe Michael Bay should just stick to making action-noir.

This should be a kids movie, right? We are all agreed that the Transformers should ostensively be one big kids' toy commercial? That's not to say it shouldn't have a compelling and adult story, because I still love the original 1986 cartoon Transformers movie and that's a movie where half the cast gets killed off, but these things should be for kids, right? You can't tell me this movie is not for kids and then in the same breath try to sell toys for small children based off characters from the movie. That's not how real life works guys. Sure there are toys from the movie Reservoir Dogs but they are not aimed at children 4-10.

But everyone in this movie is horrible! This is a movie where an F-bomb is casually dropped! I'm the last person to say violence is terrible for kids but WON'T SOMEONE PLEEEEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?? And it's not even ABOUT the excessive violence of Prime splitting a dude in half or seeing a human getting burned alive until he's a metal skeleton stuck in a pose of infinite fear and horror(actual things that happen by the way), it's about how Optimus Prime wants to kill humans and all the Autobots are terrible people who hate each other and want to say 'fuck you' to humanity. It's fine to have reluctant heroes, villains-turned-good or misfit criminals learning the importance of life, but these are supposed to be the Good Guys. They should maybe not be terrible all the time?

And that's not even getting into Cade Yeager who's supposed to be the hero of the film. CADE YEAGER. This is such a terrible father figure and just a bad character all around. He spends all his time inventing things instead of taking care of his family. In fact, he doesn't even care about his 17 yr old daughter unless it's policing her sexuality or treating her like an object that needs to be protected and can't take care of herself. He is just awful. Though it's not like she does anything to prove him wrong. She starts out strong by actually being the adult in the relationship and I was hoping she'd get some moments to prove herself as a badass independent woman, but as soon as fighting breaks out she INSTANTLY gets turned into a useless damsel in distress. She cannot do anything to save her own life except whine and moan and does nothing but get captured. This is a horrible female character. And not to badmouth make-up or anything, but it's really really distracting that they're supposed to be on the road with no signs of civilization or in the midst of battle and she still has perfectly pink lips and blushed cheeks. Just, no.

And OH MAN that's not even the worst. No, the worst by far is Tessa's boyfriend who is 20 years old and is fucking her, and in order to prove to Cade and the audience that it's not weird at all, pulls out a tiny lamented card that explains an obscure Texas law that proves he's not committing statuary rape. Like WHAT. Like, I want Cade to let her have her freedom but I'm kind of with him on this one in thinking he's a total creep that needs to be arrested. Why would you put that in there?? Why WOULD YOU PUT THAT IN THE MOVIE?? Why is this a five minute scene in a nearly 3-hour movie?? Why can't they both be 17 or have her be 19 or I don't know SOMETHING ELSE instead of telling old pervs how they can skirt statutory rape laws in a movie that should be about giant robots shooting each other with pew pew lasers?

Man this turned into a shouty complainy review real fast. It's just, like, I know Michael Bay can make good movies, and I know there can be good giant robot movies. I just really want there to be a Transformers movie I can unequivocally like. Something I can go to see and with excitement and not a begrudging sense of duty. Something that has giant robots punching each other but I don't have to compromise with horrible female characters and racist stereotypes. I want a better Transformers movie. And hey, we have 3 other of these things so it's not even like you really need to see this one for the giant robot explosions? It's...I don't know. I don't know man.

Ugh. I can't wait for the Michael Bay TMNT movie in which April O'Neil explains away beastilaity laws to the audience.


THE GOOD: I mean there are robots in this? That shoot lasers and punch other robots? And there are robot dinosaurs I guess? There's a gun sword? This should be a fun movie right?

THE BAD: CADE YEAGER, horrible women characters, terrible characters being terrible, story makes no sense at all, racist characters, movie feels long, soundtrack is awful, basically it's a Transformers movie.

THE VERDICT: $$ I mean it's a Michael Bay Transformers movie. I would say don't bother, but you've already made up your mind whether or not to see it.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Other Michael Bay Transformers movies.


ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: I am conflicted with the Autobot "Drift". On the one hand, he's a cool lookin' robot voiced by Ken Wantanabe who looks like a samurai, does some cool swordplay and also turns into a slick chopper at one point. On the other hand he is a horribly racist steryotype for no discernible reason. He's just a samurai that talks in haikus and calls Optimus "sensei". Why is this? Why does a robot from Cybertron act this way? How hard would it have been to just not make him such a stereotype or at least explain why he's like this? If you needed room you just take out that age of consent scene.

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