Metal sludge

Lat­est Transformers en­try should BE SENT STRAIGHT TO THE SCRAP HEAP

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - FRONT PAGE - By Roger Moore

THE spe­cial ef­fects are sharper, less blurred, and the ro­bots far more de­fined in Transformers:

Age of Extinction. Four films into this se­ries and the gi­ant, think­ing, wise­crack­ing, lec­tur­ing alien ro­bots have a look that fi­nally sug­gests weight and metal­lic wear and tear.

Stan­ley Tucci and T.J. Miller come in as hu­man com­i­cal re­lief, and John Good­man and Ken Watan­abe pro­vide new voices, some­times used for com­edy, as new Au­to­bots.

And if Age of Extinction makes you feel dumber just for hav­ing watched it, well, that’s the price of pop­corn these days. If it keeps Michael Bay out of trou­ble for years at a time (this is the start of a new tril­ogy), we’ll just grit our teeth and bare it. Five years since The Bat­tle of Chicago, the De­cep­ti­cons have been wiped out and their metal sal­vaged by a rich in­dus­tri­al­ist (Tucci), but an alien ro­bot bounty hunter named Lock Down has come in and teamed with a rogue C.I.A. mega­lo­ma­niac (Kelsey Gram­mer) to try and wipe out or cap­ture the last of the Au­to­bots. All aliens must go.

Mean­while, in ru­ral Texas, in­ven­tor/ scrap col­lec­tor Cade Yea­ger (Mark Wahlberg) is try­ing to save the farm and his hot­sie-tot­sie daugh­ter’s virtue by sal­vaging a crashed semi he found stuck in an aban­doned cin­ema. When he and his part­ner Lu­cas (Miller of

She’s Out of My League) res­ur­rect the old truck and it bur­bles to life as an out­raged Op­ti­mus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen, the luck­i­est man in show busi­ness), their world gets com­pli­cated. And deadly.

Mid­dle age has not dulled Bay’s pas­sion for pho­tograph­ing nu­bile star­lets from the midriff down. Thus does Ni­cola Peltz take on the Me­gan Fox role of hot­tie-du-jour. Her char­ac­ter, Tessa, spends the movie in heavy makeup and Daisy Duke cut-off shorts so skimpy her dad (Wahlberg) urges her to wash them in “cold wa­ter, and air dry” be­cause they’re “shrink­ing by the minute.”

Jack Reynor plays the beau that high school se­nior Tessa is not sup­posed to be dat­ing. Luck­ily for ev­ery­body, this Ir­ish-ac­cented lad is a rally driver, and in the film’s best chase, saves fa­ther and daugh­ter’s ba­con hurtling through the Texas corn­fields. That doesn’t mean dad’s not call­ing him “Lucky Charms” as an in­sult.

The hu­mans and their gath­ered ro­bot team­mates crash from Texas to Chicago, Bei­jing to Hong Kong, trans­form­ing from Ca­maro/Pa­gani/Bu­gatti etc. into Au­to­bots as they bat­tle Lock Down’s metal­lic min­ions and trash as­sorted cities as they do.

The wise­cracks are pretty worn out by now, but Good­man, as a portly Au­to­bot sergeant chomp­ing an elec­tronic cigar (the one prod­uct place­ment the movie missed), spits out a few be­tween gun­fights, which are plen­ti­ful in this

Transformers, a movie with a stag­ger­ing, mostly un­seen body count.

The lan­guage is rougher, but it’s the mayhem — much of it on the crowded streets, apart­ment high­rises, fer­ries and trains of Hong Kong — that bog­gles the mind. Thou­sands must be dy­ing as all this real es­tate and tran­sit is squashed. We al­most never see people, even in the Win­nebago crushed dur­ing an in­ter­state brawl.

They’re run­ning out of lec­tures for Op­ti­mus to give us about our treach­er­ous, vi­o­lent na­ture; run­ning out of ways to trans­form (dig­i­tal dis­in­te­gra­tion in some scenes, here); and run­ning out of Transformers to be turned into toys (metal di­nosaurs? Space­ships?).

Yet Age of Extinction runs on and on, pop­corn pif­fle with­out end. Two hours and 45 min­utes is a pretty steep price to pay for keep­ing Michael Bay at bay.

PHO­TOS BY PARA­MOUNT PIC­TURES / MCT

Left to right: Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yea­ger, Ni­cola Peltz as Tessa Yea­ger

and T.J. Miller as Lu­cas Flan­nery in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Care for a mint?: Grim­lock in a scene from Transformers: Age of Extinction.

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