TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION REVIEW

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Trans-Bore-Mers: Age of The Extinct franchise. Michael Bay is back with more bang, more bucks and more . . . of the same old monotonous, mechanical overlong drivel.

Raking in close to a billion dollars, I am lost for words. You know you’re onto a loser when Mark Wahlberg can’t even save the day or make really bad lines good.

To be honest, I’m not the biggest Transformers fan. I felt the original was overhyped and took me a couple of viewings to get into it. I actually enjoyed the second instalment which was heavily panned and the third . . . well, the action was good and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley . . . wow! What?

Now to be honest, the opening half hour was actually not that bad. It was typical Bay; clichéd, corny, OTT, explosions everywhere but enough to keep you glazed over and attentive plus it was funny (for the right reasons? Meh). A couple of surprise twists involving some characters was unexpected but watchable. The idea of all Transformers being hunted down was a decent concept.

The 3D is fantastic . . . for the first 40 minutes then it seems to disappear. All the stuff that had popped out or flew across the screen vanished. The special effects were outstanding anyway but for once, I thought this could be a film that proves that 3D is not just a gimmick. Alas, it was not to be. Bay cannot be challenged on his visual mastery but when it comes to pace, characters and story, well . . .

After two hours, I was asleep. If not for Stanley Tucci’s egotistical demented take on the late Steve Jobs, I would have been out the door much sooner. Once you’ve seen Optimus smash up a dozen robots/buildings, it gets repetitive really fast. A couple of awesome bad ass moments from Prime does not excuse the fact that Bay has nothing else to offer.

The problem with these giant robot blockbusters is that what the hell are humans are supposed to do? Apparently scream and moan at each other. It would have been nice to see the Autobots not cause as much as destruction as their foes . . . or least try.

Kelsey Grammer proved to be quite sinister and badass. The only problem (apart from the fact the older he looks, the more he becomes The Prospector from Toy Story 2) is that his character is pushed into the background.

Titus Welliver (Gone Baby Gone) played a piece of work until the mad-dash finale that seemed to throw everything but the kitchen sink. Marky Mark and his funky bunch of young up and comers were increasingly irritating and clichéd as the film dragged on.

Wahlberg does his best but trying to make lines about spaceship insurance and being an inventor and having to invent not sound terrible was always going to be a challenge. He might as well have said, “I’m a peacock. You gotta let me fly”. The overprotective father spiel is old hat and beefing it up with Jack Reynor’s (Delivery Man) younger cocky Irish Seth Rogen looking boyfriend just came off hammy.

It was great to see the pretty Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel) get a bigger platform but to play another troublesome teenage daughter again? Not so much. Screaming and complaining about her father all the way through was disappointing.

Also an elongated joke revolving how the young couple came to meet was stupid and a little dodgy. I mean Reynor’s character carrying a Romeo and Juliet statute in his wallet? Really? What was that about?

Sophia Myles was wasted as a geological scientist. I mean, to be frank, her character was pointless. The only human actor to get out of this mess Scott-free would be the legendary T. J. Miller (Silicon Valley) as Wahlberg’s comic sidekick. A much needed boost in the endless drivel of predictable hokum.

The proof was in the pudding in how Bay had little to offer in story by the fact that Megatron is back yet again. Granted, it was clever how it was incorporated into the little story there was. The Autobots heralded a great voice cast including the likes of John Goodman, Ken Wantanabe and John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama) but not even they could make some of the leaden lines jump off the page. Shame.

The jokes were flat and so OTT that I found myself shaking my head. I mean the sequence with Tucci and Bingbing Li kung fu fighting their way across Hong Kong felt like a drawn out live action cartoon skit. And Megatron demanding his minions find his seed was . . . just . . . oh my!

I mean, let’s be honest, Transformers is not that sort of film. It’s big, dumb and full of – robots. But it can be a whole lot shorter with more interesting characters and for once, maybe it should take itself a little more seriously because it’s getting ridiculous now.

One for the scrap heap? It’s in the crusher, waiting to be crushed but at the moment, my hand is just hovering over the button.

If there are going to be two more sequels (God help us), Bay better find his A-game fast!

2/5

Currently ranked 142 out of 197!

GODZILLA REVIEW

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Godzilla? God help us. I really wanted this to work but yet again another reboot fails to hit the mark by it’s hero’s gargantuan tail. A drawn out, plot holed mess that if not for a promising 15 minute finale would have been a complete fossil. This poor piece of dino doodoo goes out with a yawn than a ROAR!

When I heard that Gareth Edwards, the man who gave us the low budgeted apocalyptic cult creature feature Monsters, had been green lit to direct the Godzilla reboot, I was excited. Monsters gave us a taster of his visual brilliance. Granted the story was nothing new but give him the right material and a bigger budget and Godzilla could be something. It is such a shame that I report that even with an impressive cast, this film will sink and should stay in the underwater prison that kept Godzilla away for most of the movie (You read that right).

Bryan Cranston does his best to make the technical mumbo jumbo sound interesting and plausible. Hell, the guy even speaks Japanese. But you can’t help but feel it’s just Hal from Malcolm in the Middle as an engineer. Especially when he is running, panting, and screaming quite high pitched. It’s all unintentionally hilarious. I mean it was always going to be hard for Cranston to find a suitable follow up project after the excellent Breaking Bad.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but I actually preferred it’s ridiculously corny and OTT 1998 blockbuster brother, Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla. It deliberately poked fun at the hokey concept while this takes itself far too seriously (which wasn’t a problem to begin with. I mean if Christopher Nolan can do it, why not?). It just highlights the number of plot holes in the loose story line to give the humans something to do. Look I don’t care about the concept of a giant dinosaur causing havoc on the world’s major landmarks. But the problem when you have giant dinosaurs or robots (I’m looking at you, Transformers) that can survive nuclear bombs (pretty much the biggest weapon we can launch at the buggers), the only thing the human race can do as Ken Wantanabe rightly says, “Let them fight.”

Edwards obviously intended to wet our whistles, stalling the inevitable appearance of the gargantuan giant. I’m fine with that but not when we are left with naff, generic character regurgitating scientific mumbo jumbo that bores the living stuffing out of you. I mean a beautifully shot scientific expedition with Ken Wantanabe (The Last Samurai/Batman Begins) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) that skims across The Philippines and Japan teases us with a dino skeleton here, a trail of destruction there but as you’re waiting for the hero, you realise there is no point in the scientist’s journey as it makes no sense and is completely necessary. That big budget being put to use. Alexandre Desplat’s score is suspenseful and pacey but there isn’t much suspense or tension to keep you hooked.

I mean the opening sequence with the redacted 1950s footage was a complete rip off of the Emmerich rehash. I won’t spoil too much. That being said, there wasn’t much to spoil. This was advertised all wrong. The main creatures that we are stuck following are mutated parasites, well giant cockroach things that feed off radiation and it’s up to good ol’ Zilla to sort them out. At a two hour running time, there just isn’t enough going on. Every time we see those cockroach things, we get two minutes of carnage then they fly off to another expensive location for more blockbuster budget spending. When Godzilla finally appears, the animation and visual effects are impeccable, from his expressions to his incredibly loud roar. Seriously I nearly went deaf in the cinema.

But every time he looks like he’s going to do something. The camera cuts away or flashes to the aftermath. Screw that, I want to see it! Instead we get a rather hench looking army chughead Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass) sleepwalking through his lines as he suffers daddy issues with his paranoid skeptic of a father, Mr Bryan Cranston. Cranston’s angry scientist was the only thing worth watching in between the creatures popping up as if to say, “We will be fighting . . . eventually”. An unexpected twist got my attention, only to leave it open for more . . . monotonous drivel that went nowhere. Wantanabe looking white as a sheet petrified of Godzilla just becomes a parody in itself. The talented David Straitharn (The Bourne Ultimatum/Alphas) plays a stocky grunting general that asks the main question every film goer is thinking, “Where’s Godzilla?”. A character that has spawned numerous movies and hit movie history is left making a short 15 minute appearance for the “big finale”.

The little details soon irritate. When you first see the tip of his spine arise out of the ocean like something out of Jaws, a smile cracks but after half an hour, you end up screaming (quite ironically), “Get out of the water!”. When Big G gets to fight, the special effects are brilliant. But I can’t help feel that it’s a little too dark (in the visual sense, literally) to see what’s going on.

The fighting does appeared laboured and mechanical but that’s where the fun came from the classics. The special effects do nothing to spoil that. In fact they improve it. I wouldn’t waste your money on 3D, apart from the opening, where smoke and ash rains out the screen, everything else is just a little more prominent but not a massive investment.

The HALO jumping sequence was decent, especially when it flicked to the first person angle, in which we see the soldiers dive out of the plane into the ensuing fog and debris left by Godzilla and co. However, when you think back, they didn’t need to do it. Seriously.

Unfortunately, before people realise the mess that this film is, it will have already made its money and a sequel has already been green lit. But this offering has not heightened my excitement to fish out the next one. Edwards excels at the effects yet again but the love of God, give us some characters we care about.

It doesn’t offer anything for the leading ladies at all. I mean Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) had such a pointless part, anyone could have played her. The same can be said for the beautiful Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy remake), who was left either staring blankly, screaming or waiting on the phone. A shame. This had all the potential to start the blockbuster season with a BANG but only went with a BOO! Let’s hope X Men or Transformers can reward our patience. 2/5 for me.

As a side note, how cool would it have been if Heisenberg squares up to Godzilla and screams, “SAY MY NAME!”. To which Godzilla roars in subtitles, “HEISENBERG”. Then skulks away. “THIS IS MY TERRITORY!”. Maybe it will be in The Director’s Cut?!

Currently ranks #117 out of 174!