'Transformers: Age of Extinction': Director Michael Bay is better at bots than people

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Transformers: Age of Extinction' stars Mark Wahlberg as a Texas inventor who meets Autobot leader Optimus Prime.

Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount Pictures/AP
'Transformers: Age of Extinction' stars Mark Wahlberg.

The fourth “Transformers” movie is offically titled “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” but don’t believe it. As long as this franchise continues to pump out cash, there will be no extinction on the horizon.

Reviewing a Transformers movie is a bit like reviewing a toy. In fact, it’s exactly like reviewing a toy. I thought this 3-D Hasbro-Paramount production was better than the other three, but maybe that’s because I’ve been pounded into submission. Who can really differentiate between these films anyway? In the end, they all devolve (evolve?) into clashing, clanging bots.

Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager, a down-on-his-luck Texas inventor who buys an old pickup truck only to discover it’s actually Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots. Optimus, having saved the world, is nevertheless perceived by Washington’s power elite as a threat. Black Ops, Decepticon bounty hunters, government meanies – they’re all here, trying to take down the Good Guys, who include not only Optimus and Co., but also Cade and his daughter (Nicola Peltz), her race-car driver boyfriend (Jack Reynor), and, after a change of heart, a billionaire munitions inventor, played by Stanley Tucci with a gust of good humor that’s like a sweet tinkle amid this film’s vast clangor. 

Director Michael Bay is otherwise better at directing bots than people. In fact, has anybody checked lately to see if he is not himself a Transformer? Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.