Saturday, February 24, 2018
Things To Do

Review: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' is long, loud, ludicrous

Even the heartiest Transformers nerd must admit that Michael Bay took his mecha-fetish too far this time. The fourth episode in a saga that didn't need a second, Age of Extinction, is 2 hours and 45 minutes of numbing dumb and dull end credits listing the artists cashing in. It is exactly what moviegoers who made this franchise thrive deserve.

Age of Extinction — a wishful title if ever there was — is set a few years after the planned finale, 2011's Dark of the Moon, and its battle royale between Autobots and the evil Decepticons. Everything was settled as Chicago got leveled, with Bay's dispassion for human stuff making what must be an astounding body count nothing worth mentioning. Autobots save the world, end of story. Please.

Bay had another idea, after seeing fans lined up for hours at a theme park's Transformers ride, and realizing he hadn't demanded enough of a cut. Just reboot the plot in another time and place, with different-but-the-same actors. Which is why we get Mark Wahlberg doing a pretty good Shia LaBeouf impression as the needless lead human, and Nicola Peltz as an eerie mutation of Megan Fox and what's-her-name from Dark of the Moon. John Turturro's role of statured actor slumming is now played by Stanley Tucci.

Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager, a barnyard inventor deep in the heart of Texas, so don't mess with him. Cade is a widower raising his nubile daughter, Tessa (Peltz), who isn't allowed to date but sneaks around with Shane (Jack Reynor), whose drift racing skills come in handy in the movie's frequent attempts to be fast and furious. Shane also supplies Wahlberg with his sole acting motivation, defending Tessa's honor, which it appears she already surrendered.

Tucci keeps his chin up as Joshua Joyce, founder of a tech corp using the head of Decepticon leader Megatron as the techno-genome to manufacture Transformers. His work is being co-opted by CIA black ops supervisor Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), whose plan is to exterminate all Autobots, especially their sonorous leader Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen). Ehren Kruger's screenplay strains to make things more complex but that's about it.

The remaining Autobots, hiding in John Ford country, include Bumblebee, whose popularity is enhanced by never speaking, and franchise newcomers Hound (John Goodman's recycled gruff) and Drift, voiced by Ken Watanabe in samurai tones. The presence of Watanabe and Chinese action star Bingbing Li, plus setting the overlong third act in Asia, is Bay courting an enormous audience that can take or leave subtitles.

Action speaks decibels louder than Kruger's comic strip words. An armada of moon rock-shaped warships carpet-bombing dinosaurs with hovering space napalm is a nice opening, forgotten until later when said dinosaurs come alive as Dinobots. One car chase blurs into the next, with CIA killers in wicked sports cars and Autobots somersaulting into vehicular form. Bay's mayhem is more discernible than usual, with smarter uses of slo-mo, and cutting back on tight shots turned into visual gibberish by the robots' designs.

Age of Extinction is stretched to exhaustion by constantly finding a reason for Optimus Prime to gather reinforcements, Grammer to arrange a nefarious response and everything mechanical upstaging the humans. Getting to the climactic beatdown sooner might make a half-hour of cacophonous metal-on-metal violence and sequel-setting easier to sit through. Nah.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

Comments

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: Rinnai 250 qualifying9 a.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 200 qualifying10:30 a.m.FS1Xfinity: Rinnai 2502 p.m.FS1Trucks: Active Pest Control 2004:30 p.m.FS1Baseball, spring trainingRays at Red Sox1 p.m.MLB;620-AMWhite Sox at Marine...
Published: 02/23/18
Some ideas for things to do outside in spring

Some ideas for things to do outside in spring

Published: 02/23/18
Annihilation' is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Annihilation' is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Published: 02/23/18
SoundBytes: The Shadowboxers, Lit, O-Town, Saba, Wolfgang Gartner and more

SoundBytes: The Shadowboxers, Lit, O-Town, Saba, Wolfgang Gartner and more

— The Shadowboxers will open for their mentor Justin Timberlake on May 15 at Amalie Arena in Tampa. You might remember the pop-rock group from their several performances around the 2017 College Football Playoff national championship game in Tam...
Published: 02/23/18
Top things to do on Friday

Top things to do on Friday

Here are our editors picks for things to do on Feb. 23.
Published: 02/23/18
Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

Your 4-year-old daughter could land a role in ‘Waitress’ at the Straz

TAMPA — Could your 4-year-old be the next Lulu? A touring Broadway show wants to find out. Waitress, which runs April 24-29 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is looking for a local 4- to 5-year old to play a small but c...
Published: 02/23/18
Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Top things to do on Friday, Feb. 23

Blast Friday: The Romantics: The family-friendly food and craft vendor festival featuring a free live concert and a beer garden. 5:30 p.m., 400 Block of Cleveland Street, Osceola Avenue and Cleveland Street, Clearwater. Free. (727) 464-7200. Pasco C...
Published: 02/23/18
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Good Girls,’ catch up on ‘Heathers’ and ‘Jessica Jones’

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Good Girls,’ catch up on ‘Heathers’ and ‘Jessica Jones’

Nude zombie alert: The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead isn't slowing down anytime soon. The hit zombie series returns for the second half of its eighth season Sunday and AMC recently announced it was renewed for a ninth. In this season's first eight epi...
Published: 02/23/18
The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

The Florida Orchestra taps composer Michael Ippolito to capture the state’s sound

ST. PETERSBURG — The composer sat in semi-darkness, his hand drifting like a slow pendulum at his side. On the Mahaffey Theater stage, the violins led a creaking and mysterious journey through a cypress swamp, the inspiration for the first movement.T...
Published: 02/23/18
Author Allison Winn Scotch gives a nod to Steven King

Author Allison Winn Scotch gives a nod to Steven King

NightstandAllison Winn ScotchScotch, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of several novels. Her newest, Between Me and You, set in Los Angeles, is the story of Ben and Tatum, a couple whose marriage is unraveling, due perhaps ...
Published: 02/23/18