'Extinction really does seem to take an age in this film, its running time distended to a lumbering 144 minutes by Bay’s love of check-out-my-shot slow-motion, so we catch the exact angle with which the Transformers pirouette through the air, and the exact number of inches by which they fail to miss an overhead bridge, and the precise scatter-pattern of cratering masonry that results. Extinction really does take an age in this film — the Debbie Does Dallas of destruction porn. The real progenitor of these films is not Steven Spielberg, or even Irwin Allen, but Smokey and the Bandit, Honkytonk Freeway, and all those other Kentucky-fried, demolition derbies that littered up the back end of the seventies with their multiple shunts, pile-ups and smasheroos. “That was insane!” says one young scientist after the Autobots have torn up much of Chicago’s Michigan avenue, “It was awesome but it was insane!” It is also curiously boring. One of the stranger aspects of the Transformer oeuvre is that you can watch all four movies back to back, find your eyes comprehensively boggled, your ears played like timpani, and yet discover that your pulse has not deviated once above a steady 60 bpm. Bay has all the attributes of a great action director except the ability to instill fear in an audience. He wants us thrust back in our seats, not on the edge of them, overwhelmed with awesomeness not fretting over what is going to happen next. The summer blockbuster may originally have pitched battle against outsized antagonists — gigantic Death Stars, giant sharks — but their protagonists were pint-sized, Davids plucking up the courage to face Goliath. “Aren’t you a little short to be a stormtrooper?” asked a skeptical Princess Leia. ““I don't want to ever feel you could kill that shark,” Spielberg told Roy Sheider while shooting Jaws, filling out his cast with uber-nerds, beta-males and lily livers. Bay’s snickering giganticism, together with his withering disdain for anything that smacks of weakness, make him very much the man of America’s imperial hour. The Transformer movies delivers a Hobbesian vision of man and machine, in which Goliaths are thumped by even bigger Goliaths, only to be creamed by even more vast uber-Goliaths, in infinite regress. Does the inside of Dick Cheney’s head look like this?'
Jun 28, 2014
REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS: AGE of EXTINCTION (dir. Bay)
From my Guardian review:—