Aaargh, what a disappointment. Perhaps it was foolish to get my hopes up for the fourth instalment in the Transformers franchise (after ‘Transformers’ 07, ‘Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen’ 09 and Transformers : Dark of the Moon’ 11) but having grown up with them, and as a fan of the new series so far, it was kind of difficult not to. Essentially, all of the things that were wrong with the previous films have been taken to excess here, with worthy moments to counterbalance this few and far between.
The story takes place several years after the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons which annihilated parts of Chicago (which has, incidentally, recently won a competition to be the venue of a large new movie museum. I’m sure it’s because of Transformers), a direct result of which sees the US Administration trying to handle their own security affairs with the Autobots effectively made into outcasts, whilst a covert CIA military outfit is secretly hunting them down for their own nefarious purposes. Shia LaBeouf, his family and various girlfriends are nowhere to be found and the central human characters are this time fleshed out by Mark Wahlberg, playing a hard up mechanic tinkering with old junk in his idyllic garage that always has the sun setting or rising outside whenever he’s working in it (no surprises what he’ll come across one day), Nicola Peltz, his overly hot jail bait daughter, and Jack Reynor, her fake Irish boyfriend.
The dynamic between the humans really couldn’t be more contrived and it’s hard to imagine it won’t grate on all but the youngest of audiences, but the film really starts to fall apart when Optimus Prime learns something which sends him into A COMPLETE FROTHING RAGE and he winds up to go on the warpath, which certainly had me thinking ‘AWESOME!’ but then they deflate this build up far, far too quickly, and right before the audience knows they would have discovered something critical. From then on, it just becomes an endless series of pointless explosions with terrible dialogue before the Dinobots are eventually introduced and Prime rides one like a donkey, but really they do so little they could have been any bit of new, slightly more powerful tech for all the difference it would have made.
The film has the feeling of director Michael Bay having been too influenced by his critics. Gone, for example, are the overt shots of his lead actress poised on a bike for no reason as if willing all spectators to jointly penetrate her in her every orifice, instead we have brief takes of flesh here and there, one second shots from between the daughter’s legs …
… for example, but Bay has to either go for it or not bother – half measures don’t come off well at all, and the whole film feels like he’s almost making the movie he wants to, but with too many concessions. There are still, however, some really nice moments – such as one character memorably getting their brutal just deserts, scientists playing with a My Little Pony and a few decent set pieces. Unfortunately, however, below standard special effects here and there and more silly moments (the creation of the chemical element ‘Transformium’, for example, is unlikely to give chemists much inspiration for future nomenclature) continue to ruin the whole, and its length leaves it as one extended headache more than anything else. The early teenage bracket are probably the most likely to get something out of it. Also starring Sophia Myles, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, T.J. Miller and Bingbing Li.