Transformers: Age of Extinction

By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on June 27, 2014

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Dear Steve Salazar

Dear Steve,

When it comes to melting metal on Hollywood sets, it's hard to top your CV. In the last few years alone, you've built some of the most badass battleships, spaceships, train sets and superhero battlegrounds we've ever seen. Now you've come back to the Transformers_ _franchise, where the metal thrashing must be bigger, harder, faster, and louder than anything that came before it. Personally, I'd rather just bang my head against the wall. At least that's how I felt going into this film… and then again at about the 90-minute mark when I realized it was only halfway done.

Before Transformers: Age of Extinction gets inevitably unwieldy (just like the three films before it), I found myself actually enjoying the slow burn introduction - "slow burn" relative to a Michael Bay film, that is. A whole new cast of actors have been rotated in, I think: past characterization has been so ineffective, I couldn't really tell. This reboot approach does, however, force a little more fleshy face time, which, although easier to follow, is ultimately just a distraction from the film's central preoccupation.

So we're introduced to Mark Wahlberg as an inventor/farmer who lives with his short-shorts loving teenage daughter, played by Nicola Peltz, as well as T.J. Miller, who steals all his scenes as Walhberg's reluctant partner. They find an old truck in an abandoned Texas theatre that proves to be Autobot leader Optimus Prime (huh?), and are eventually chased by black op government agents for harboring an alien. Stanley Tucci is also in here as a Steve Jobs-inspired billionaire inventor, inexplicably trying to turn his character into late comedic relief. But whatever. These are people, and nobody goes into a Transformers movie for the people. Like you, all they care about is seeing big shit get smashed.

I assume you're okay seeing your hard work destroyed, anyway. Being a construction artist on a Michael Bay film would require the zen of a Tibetan Buddist creating sand mandalas. You know what you make is barely going to be seen before being obliterated, and worst of all, in an age where computers tend to take all the credit for movie magic, most people will never even realize what you've done. That last point, however, is a credit to the Transformers' continuing innovation in seamless visual effects. The most memorable parts here being the bits when we see people flying out of car wrecks and mid-air crashes, adding a much-needed human stake to this emotionally dead world of culturally stereotyped robots.

So I wish I could give you more specific credit, but I'm not sure where that would be. And not just because everything looks really good, but because when I walked out of the theatre this time, just like the last three Transformer films, the whole movie is kind of a blur. That seems strange as the editing pace has been mercifully slowed down, and the action is finally digestible almost throughout the movie. I guess there's just something about metal aliens that doesn't connect with me. No matter how hard you tried.

Fussing out,


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