Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Transformers: Age of Extinction is simply awful. There is no use in saying it any other way. There’s hardly any use in reviewing the thing at all, really. By some sick twist of fate a recent transpacific flight held only a handful of movies in store, all of which I had seen with the exception of Age of Extinction. I read the safety instruction card first, and you know what? I’d rather review the f*cking safety instruction card.

As far as safety instruction cards go, I found this one (for a Boeing 777) to be colorful and well-mapped out. The characters fasten their seatbelts, make sure their seats recline and their tray tables go up and down, switch off their iPods. They take note as to whether they are seated in an exit row. Disaster strikes. They enter a variety of brace positions and assist small children with their oxygen masks before adjusting their own. What is this disaster? The safety instruction card leaves this ambiguous. This is the world we live in: anything could strike at any moment. We must be prepared.

Most importantly, we care about these people. This is a hell of a lot more than we can say for the characters in Age of Extinction. Is that Stanley Tucci there in seat 13C, attempting to light a cigarette with a big red X through it as a clear warning that he should not be doing that? If it is, his role in the safety instruction card is already less thankless than that of the FBI Dude or Whatever in the fourth Transformers. There is a scene in that film where a frustrated Tucci hopes to recreate the original Megatron from his shattered remains, which is ironic enough as Age of Extinction tries just as desperately to recreate a blockbuster trilogy-kicker-offer by scraping up everything we’ve already been through and doing it all over again. Tucci yells, and I quote: “Algorithms!” He continues: “Math!” His soliloquy ends: “Why can’t we make what we wanna make the way we wanna make it?!”

At this point the elaborate scheme by Michael Bay and the airline service providers is evident: when the writing in the safety instruction card is genuinely more eloquent than the writing in the movie you’re watching, a marketing ruse of some kind is the only possible explanation. Otherwise, we’d be faced with the fact that something as truly awful as Age of Extinction is not only acceptable, but is also going to make a hell of a lot of money. This would be quite the pill to swallow. This would swing your reaction from a listless well, that movie sucked into a legitimately angry f*ck this movie, because it would mean that in all likelihood the amount of money you make in your entire lifetime will be dwarfed by the box-office haul for this bottom-rung throwaway screenplay that you could have improved upon by covering your eyes with one hand and whacking the keyboard a few times with your other.

Admittedly, this is a lot more emotion than some other movies elicit. But you’re better off skipping Age of Extinction, remaining an emotionless being with a blank face, calm as a Hindu cow, like those people bracing for an emergency landing in the safety instruction card.

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