Transformers: Age of Extinction - Wow...this is like being beaten unconscious by 50 pounds of stupid for 2 and a half hours. As this fourth film in the series begins, the Transformers, an alien race of shape-shifting robots, have been declared illegal by the US government following the destruction wrought in Chicago at the end of the last movie. A devious CIA chief (Kelsey Grammer) commands a group of special ops troops who hunt down and destroy any Transformer they find, be it the evil Decepticons or even the friendly Autobots. They are aided by Lockdown (voice of Mark Ryan), a previously unseen Transformer who is part of neither faction. Meanwhile, genius engineer and inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg!) runs an electronics and mechanical junk business out of his barn in smalltown Texas. He and his business partner (TJ Miller) buy a beat-up old semi truck that they find in an old movie theater (!!), and when they start working on it they find out that it is actually Optimus Prime (v: Peter Cullen), the benevolent leader of the Autobots. Fixing Optimus has put Cade in danger from the CIA as a collaborator, so he and his daughter (Nicola Peltz) and her boyfriend (Jack Reynor) go on the run with Optimus and the few remaining Autobots. They all must not only contend with the military and Lockdown who after them, but also the agents of the sinister KSI corporation, whose egotistical CEO (Stanley Tucci) has found a way to make his own Transformers from scratch. Also featuring Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, Bingbing Li, Thomas Lennon, and the voices of John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Robert Foxworth, and Frank Welker.
This has to be the most blatantly commercial film I have ever seen. I counted no less than 2 dozen conspicuous cases of product placement, and that's not including all of the new vehicles models used for the Transformers themselves. While still directed by Michael Bay, the cast of the previous films opted out, so we have all new characters, but using the word "character" may be stretching things a bit, as these are all just shallow archetypes. The script by Ehren Kruger is both woefully over-complicated with little-explained science fiction mumbo-jumbo, as well as featuring a lot of truly moronic dialogue. The action is the usual CGI mess that doesn't have any visceral impact, although they've added great spurts of neon-green "blood" spewing forth from the robots to make things a little more physical, I guess. Like the previous films, which managed to bring forth some of the worst performances from reputable actors like John Turturro and Jon Voight, this does the same with Tucci and Grammer, the latter of whom won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor (the film also won Worst Director (Bay), and was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress (Peltz), Worst Screenplay, Worst Remake or Sequel, Worst Onscreen Duo, and Worst Picture). Much was made during filming about this shooting in China, and the last third or so of the film takes place in Beijing and Hong Kong, which at least added some new scenery to the usual destruction. The much ballyhooed "Dinobots", robots that turn into dinosaurs (!!!), don't appear until around the two hour and ten minute mark (this runs an unconscionable 165 minutes). In a film chock full of stupid, I think the dumbest bit would be the good-guy Transformer who has a lit cigar in his mouth while in robot form, as well as a robot beard!!!!
Despite all of this idiocy, this still managed to become the biggest box office hit of the year (a substantial bit of that from China, I'm sure), and I think this film has now become, for me, the worst film ever to rank as a #1 of its year (beating out 1998's Armageddon, also from director Bay). 3/10