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May 23, 2024

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

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Fifteen years ago, Karen Bell’s three children – Bon 18 months, Maddie 5, and Jack 7, were found with their dead father Gary Bell in a vehicle at Perico – a collapsed hippy colony on the NSW far south coast.

After an overnight flight from Tokyo to the Gold Coast, I approached this with little haste but confident at least that its noise level would not encourage me to drift into the deep sleep that my head longed for.

Michael Bay has directed all four of the Transformers series, dating back to 2007, and he is really good at what he does, ie, mega thrash-trash sci-fi.

Showing no taste for experimentation or even mild variation, Bay has more or less made the same movie over and over, and the latest incarnation differs from its predecessors only in its overdue change of cast.

Matey Mark Wahlberg, as Cade Yaeger, a Texan grease monkey, has taken over from the intensely irritating Shia LeBeouf as the indestructible Everyman protagonist, while a rather pouty Nicola Peltz, as his daughter Tessa, has joined the party to fill the time-honoured role of Helpless Blonde.

As far as story goes, it is at first complicated, with the transformers (cars that turn into giant warrior robots) being in two factions – those that are on the side of humans opposed to the megalomaniacs who have a tendency to reduce cities like Chicago, Beijing and Hong Kong to rubble.

The US government, represented by Kelsey Grammer, has been in cahoots with the high-tech industrialist Stanley Tucci in an effort to ‘clone’ the aliens and, as the government always does in these situations, it has become the oppressor of the people it is meant to save (or something like that).

Amir Mokri’s robust, vibrantly coloured cinematography, if tending to be over-reliant on the extreme angle, is a constant pleasure and, to give credit where it’s due, the CGI is astonishing – a chase through and over the gleaming towers and grungy tenements of Honkers is thrilling.

Tucci, as you’d expect, provides moments of understated humour and Bingbing Li, as the Chinese agent Su Yueming, is inscrutably sexy in black.

The concluding scene, however, suggests that the extinction referred to in the title cannot, alas, be taken literally

~ John Campbell

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