Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) is one for the shower. It is an endless two hours and forty minutes, made strictly for an illiterate, masochistic audience who seek out movies that will bang them over the head and deafen them. The rest of us may feel so wiped out that we will need to run home, take two Bayer aspirin, and wash off the residue of director Michael Bay’s masturbatory excesses. Bay has made enough money pleasuring himself to toys that he could put a serious dent in the national deficit. That says a lot about contemporary movie executives and perhaps even more about the typical moviegoer.
That aptly named Age of Extinction could very well be a prophetic symbol for movies as a meaningful form of entertainment. To say Transformers is soulless is too much of a given. I cannot imagine anyone even talking about the movie afterwards, except perhaps out of sheer embarrassment for having dragged oneself to see it. I am unsure how many of these movies have been made, and have no desire to find out after having seen this one; but the fact that a series of Transformers movies have been produced already almost guarantees it making a gazillion dollars off numbed contemporary audiences forever looking for sensation devoid of feeling.
Based on the Hasbro robot toy line, Transformers is too pornographic in its violence to be seen by children, and any parent taking their kids to see it should have their head examined. The actors, who include Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, and John Goodman, are in the nadir of their careers. They are lost among scraping metal, explosions, and the countless product placements that at least provides minuscule relief from all the “noise, noise, noise.” Unfortunately, like Boris Karloff‘s Grinch, we are powerless to shut it all up, because the noise is the only thing that prevents us from succumbing to complete boredom. Death from boredom would be far preferable, however, and leave less wear on the posterior. Robots are supposed to be cool, and despite having robots who can turn into cars, Transformers still can’t inspire any emotion besides lethargy. I kept asking myself how Bay could manage to make robots dull, until I remembered that Clint Eastwood worked hard, and successfully, at sucking all the fun and poetry out of the Western and transforming it into a hopelessly vacuous genre.
Not helping the robots is shockingly asinine dialogue delivered by Goodman (in voice over), Wahlberg as a mad scientist type, and Grammer as the stock CIA exec. Incredibly, the girls in the movie are even more witless, reduced to cardboard whores for Bay’s fetishistic lens.
Transformers is not so much a movie as a heavily advertised media event. Doubtlessly, the besotted businessmen funding this clanging, metallic peepshow fancy their product as imaginative enough to rake in plenty of dyed green paper from its zombified audience. To be certain, the producers will be quite busy tallying their profits, but all that green is rendered an illusionless illusion because, although good movies are still being made, American Cinema is broke, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to put it together again.