The Ballad of Splodey NoFun
I totally spoil Transformers: Age of Extinction here, and that’s probably best for all of us involved.
Is it possible for a corporate franchise to inappropriately appropriate its own culture? Asking for a friend. Asking for a childhood friend called Hasbro, actually. This movie, yeesh. The Transformers films in the past have been stupid but usually joyous in their own way. This one… I really didn’t need to see Optimus Prime shoot a human, even if that human is Hollywood poster conservative Kelsey Grammar.
It would be like, I dunno, you had Superman break Zod’s neck at the end of…oh.
Actually I thought of that moment the second after Prime blew Frasier away. My exact inner monologue was “Well, if Superman can do it.”
I caught the flick at the Chinese on the IMAX. When you submit to the Church of Beyhem you must give in completely. Unfortunately my hideous opening day luck continued. During the last trailer a morbidly obese dude and his kid made their way down from the seats they had been trying to grift (the Chinese is assigned seating) and into the seats they were supposed to be in: right next to me.
This would have been fine—real IMAX seats are always big enough that there’s almost never a problem with feeling like the person next to you is in your chair—except dude was all about his Blackberry.
A Blackberry, in 2014. Checking the damn thing every three minutes. We finally get to an action scene and he’s texting God knows who. He tries to hide it b cupping his hands around the screen and cradling the phone with his Optimus Prime sized stomach. It doesn’t matter: the light from the phone cuts through the polarized lenses of my 3D glasses every time.
Who the fuck spends $40 to take their kid to the movies and then spends the entire time engrossed in a text conversation? Just fucking let the kid watch the movie on his own.
(If you want to know why I didn’t confront him: I don’t consider such people reasonable, so I expect said confrontations to escalate to violence. I used to work in a movie theatre, it happens far too often.)
Hell, that isn’t even what I wanted to rant about. I started with the joke about Hasbro. Here’s the thing: the story—if we can call it that—pulls from a lot of different iterations of the Transformers franchise for its cast and details. Like Lockdown—the bad guy’s—ship. It has a name, but the sound mix is such that the name is garbled right up. There’s something about “Knights” and Optimus being one of them. It was an interesting bit of exposition that was hard to decipher.
Inside the ship there’s a “trash disposal” that’s straight out of Unicron, and at the climax of the film the ship opens up a Unicron-like maw to start some aggressive urban redevelopment. You’ve seen that bit in the trailers. Actually we’ve all seen all the good bits in the trailers. For a movie that’s almost three hours long that’s damning beyond belief.
Anyway: no Unicron. Not even the name applied where it doesn’t belong. I spent the whole damn movie hoping we were building up to something bigger than what was seen in the trailers. You know, something planet-sized. Nope.
If you want the best Transformers: Age of Extinction experience you can have put the trailers in a YouTube playlist on a loop while blasting the soundtrack to the 80s animated movie.