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Film review: Transformers: Age of Extinction **

By Alexia Evripidou

A visual and auditory assault on the senses, Transformers: Age of Extinction sincerely made me look forward to its own annihilation. Not that it is awful, just too much of the same old thing but with better and more dazzling Transformers. A convoluted plot that goes nowhere for two hours and 25 minutes, the fourth installation seems mainly to have been created to dazzle and carve the path for the inevitable fifth blockbuster.

As a childhood fan of the original Transformers cartoons, I eagerly awaited and enjoyed the first Transformer’s film (2007). Four movies on, and the novelty has worn off.

Maybe I am being a little too harsh, but I doubt it. As a movie geek, I enjoy being challenged by what I see; being swept away with a story is a must, irrespective of its genre. I am, however, a little tired of being bombarded into submission with fast and loud imagery, only to leave the cinema without any real understanding of what happened. Do not misunderstand, great visuals are important to the experience of a good film, but they should not be all it has going for it.

So as not to be a party pooper, if you enjoyed the previous films of the series, then you will probably love this one too. As always, the visuals are fantastic, although, this fourth entry into the Transformer franchise left me feeling disorientated, with a complementary pounding headache.

Directed again by Michael Bay, Age of Extinction boasts several big names, which I guess indicates its standing in pop culture. Mark Wahlberg (good-bye Mr. ho-hum Shia LeBeouf) is Cade Yeager, father of a very mini and tight, shorts wearing, leggie blond teenager Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Yeager is a poor and unsuccessful inventor, whose inventions generally do not work. Overprotective of his daughter, they land themselves into some serious trouble when he decides to fix up an old truck he’s bought, to make some quick money. The result brings down the full force of Autobots, Decepticons and government officials, heavily onto them.

As humanity picks up the pieces, following the end of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, most of the alien machines have nearly vanished from the planet Earth. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman, government officials and scientists attempt to push the boundaries of technology; using transformer ‘genes’ to create a situation beyond what they can control (nothing new here). Meanwhile, an ancient and powerful Transformer force joins in the mess, in search for the legendary hero, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen).

Full of sound and fury signifying not much, Age of Distinction is however, packed with impressive 3D effects of flying cars, mind jarring hydraulic breakdowns, and mechanical transformations leading to a smash-everything climax. But with so much of it taking place at the same time; it can lead to visual overload.

Generally, Transformers films are not known for their suspense and characterisation; nonetheless, using Wahlberg was a wise choice. He does action and holding a pimped up alien gun excellently and with far more charisma than the before mentioned LeBeouf. Similarly to all the other ‘goodies’ in this movie: the daughter, her boyfriend, the ‘beefed up’ new and improved Transformers, Wahlberg is also easy on the eye.

Both Wahlberg and smarmy robotics entrepreneur actor Stanley Tucci manage to add some humour to the film, although mainly clichéd; i.e. the overbearing father dealing with his only daughter’s boyfriend. Tucci brought some light and geeky humour to an out of film character scene involving elevator music and karate fighting in a Hong Kong lift. Seeing Kelsey Grammer, playing a dark and ruthless CIA “black ops” chief was also a pleasant surprise.

Shamelessly, the film is laced with glaringly obvious product placements. I appreciate that this is necessary, but subtlety is not a bad thing. Although comical, I have to ask; how does the scene full of blue Budweiser bottles further the plot of the film, other than making me want crack open a bottle myself.

I relish a good action film, but this was not my cup of tea. With 35 minutes shaved off, a less saturated plot and some space in between the action, allowing viewers to take in all the excellent computer graphics, I would have enjoyed the film substantially more.

STARRING Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor
USA 2014 165 mins

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