by DICK CHENEY
Transformers: Age of Extinction
dir. Michael Bay
I don't throw the word genius around a lot, unless someone is washing my feet or my car. We have long needed an American director who was absolutely fearless, and now we have found him. Michael Bay is willing to destroy his actors to get what he wants onscreen. What exactly is Michael Bay's heart's desire? He wanted to make a movie about a love triangle between a father, his daughter and her Australian boyfriend.
In this he succeeded with Transformers: Age of Extinction. Mark Wahlberg's daughter informs us that she has been "taking care" of Marky Mark since his wife passed. (A robot winks meaningfully after that.) It is a poor choice of words at best, a mild and innocuous felony at worst. Unfortunately, Tessa Yeager (Nicola Peltz) had to die:
The lifespan of women in Transformers is limited in the extreme. They get tired and fatigued from running and screaming for help, and heart disease claims them in the end. Megan Fox has actually been dead for over a decade. In the last Transformers movie, which I believe was subtitled Transformers: My Pea Is Your Pod, Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf perished in the warmth of Optimus Prime's nasal cavity, requiring this reboot.
Not a single person from any of those previous Transformers movies is even peripherally involved in Age of Extinction, but all of the characters still talk the exact same.
Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) owns a fledgling robotics company that has not produced a single working robot. When he meets Optimus Prime (Christian Bale), he immediately begins planning to steal the alien technology and use it for his own nefarious means. His household is "under control", because after his wife died, he prohibited both himself and his daughter from ever dating, which I believe is both illegal and extremely creepy unless you're Indian.
Because Transformers is way more successful outside of America, Bay has included a variety of token ethnicities. After the blowback from his ghetto Transformers incident from the NAACP (they later honored him with a lifetime achievement award) Mr. Bay has steered clear of including any black characters in the entire movie. There is not even an African-American dinosaur robot.
Instead, Bay really appreciates Asian audiences. That's why he has included a female executive (Li Bingbing) in Age of Extinction, who Stanley Tucci regards as "extremely impressive." Naturally, even though she is his subordinate, he hits on her throughout the film and eventually she seems open to his disgusting advances. (How do you think Michael Bay obtained children?)
There is also a Samurai transformer who appears to be attired like the cover of a Midwestern edition of The Art of War. His accent is so unbelievably sinister and racist that it makes Aunt Jemima look progressive, (Unfortunately, I learned this is Ken Watanabe's actual accent. Sorry Ken.)
Inside of every Transformer is the life force known as the spark; "we cah that a soul" Wahlberg bleats. In a massive alien ship he finds special transformer killing guns and turns into Rambo. Cade sends his daughter away but she comes back to fight on the side of the good robots. Kelsey Grammar tries to have the daughter gunned down for no real reason by the evil island spirit on Lost and Mark Wahlberg is like, "Ya tried to kull my dawghter." I miss Dr. Frasier Crane.
The dinosaur part of the story goes something like this: the transformers killed the dinosaurs. The only reason they offered is because they have a less than respectful view of the artistic aspects of The Land Before Time. Mark Wahlberg acts like he would rather be anywhere, showcasing an intense contempt for the man he is portraying. Incidentally "Cade" is a very difficult word for a robot to say, and Optimus Prime goes out of his way not to utter Cade's name so as not to confuse his ethnic Autobots.
Even though Cade's daughter Tessa is only 17, she has developed an intense emotional connection with a race car driver. God knows what they have in common or where they met, but it's up to this fellow to prove his worthiness to the girl's father. This disturbing wooing of permission is not only deeply retrograde and sexist, it occurs during a car chase.
The action culminates in nothing very exciting. The last film ended with a set piece that destroyed the city of Chicago, which was at least therapeutic. Age of Extinction concludes suddenly after one of the robots is destroyed; I believe the robot's name was Gastroenteritistron. He wanted to bring Optimus back to his "creator," which is probably Morgan Freeman in a suit if the last ten years of cinema is any indication.
In the end, Optimus decides he is really very sick of humanity, and would do anything he could to get away from them. He watched his Autobot friends hacked and divested of their Happy Meals and metal belongings, and in doing so he witnessed the destruction of his entire way of life. Age of Extinction had the largest ever opening in China. Every invading culture is quietly subsumed and irrevocably altered by the victims it claims.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in an undisclosed location who misses Hot Pie.
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