A Mars vs Venus look at Transformers: Age Of Extinction

A Mars vs Venus look at Transformers: Age Of Extinction
Nicola Peltz (L) and Mark Wahlberg (R)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, TJ Miller, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Peter Cullen

DIRECTOR: Michael Bay

The skinny: Small-time robotics nut Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) buys a rundown truck which turns out to be Optimus Prime (Cullen). When corrupt government agents try to destroy the robot and threaten to kill Cade's pert daughter (Peltz), the gang go on the run. Meanwhile, a billionaire (Tucci) is creating his own Transformers and an evil space robot is causing trouble.

Rating: PG13

Mars look by Jason Johnson

This movie is two hours and 40 minutes long.

You actually have to give director Bay credit - he could just churn out your average, no-monkey-business actioner, but he really puts a lot of passion into these giant robot flicks and care into building the characters.

We spend quite a bit of time at Cade's acreage, just hanging out with him, his daughter and his goofy pal (Miller) before the chaos begins.

Bay really wants us to care about these people, like this is an old-school Spielberg flick or something.

He also takes the time to give his Autobots personalities.

There's a samurai, a British tough guy and a big, fat stogie-smoking 'Merican.

We also get to know and love the billionaire robot builder played by Tucci - Bay doesn't get enough credit for allowing guys like him to shine in these movies.

Tucci's got some really funny lines, and he's surprisingly endearing in what should have been a thankless role.

The thing I love about Bay is that he wants all his characters to shine, to have their own special moments.

Of course, at the end of the day, this is a movie about giant robots pounding one another over and over again, but there are plenty of pleasant and unexpected glimmers of humanity, even in the metalheads themselves.

jjohnson@sph.com.sg

Venus look by Joanne Soh

You can hate him and call his movies trash, but Bay will still churn out loud, explosive flicks.

This is no different. The fourth Transformers outing is rather enjoyable and chockful of classic manic Bay-hem, a true popcorn movie.

How serious can you get, considering the subject matter?

Bay has made a great decision in choosing Wahlberg to lead the humans.

He grounds the movie as the earnest, over-protective daddy, and being a bona-fide action hero, he makes it believable in his attempts to take on the bad guys and bots mano-a-mano.

The other standout is Tucci, who takes over John Turturro's place as comic relief. He's classy and never comes across cheesy or irritating.

Of course the stars are the bots themselves and Bay really ups the ante.

While Optimus Prime looks regal and almighty, it's the Terminator-like Lockdown that's most impressive.

How Bay and the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic make them come to life is truly amazing. They even show a gamut of emotions, particularly Optimus.

The third act, particularly the scenes in Hong Kong, is a visual spectacle.

And in true Bay style, there are too many plots cramped into the long movie, making it convoluted.

But you don't go to a Transformers movie for the story, do you?

joannes@sph.com.sg

The consensus: A reboot or a sequel? Who cares. This one is for keeps, especially for Transformers fans.


This article was first published on June 25, 2014.
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