Yes, Transformers is 165 minutes, and there were times I was hoping a dentist drill would come in a save me, but no such luck. While this film is bound to make money this weekend, I can’t help but wonder are we facing the “age of extinction” for nostalgia anytime soon?
The “story” if you can call it that, focuses on Optimus Prime, and the Autobots hiding from an absurdly evil CIA chief (Kelsey Grammer), and a scientist (Stanley Tucci) trying to replicate the Transformers metal, which is oddly called Transformium to create robot army to protect the United States. Haven’t we all seen this? Dear bad guys this does not work ever, why are you trying to control robots from outer space? I would talk about the other humans and their story in the film, like Mark Wahlberg who is the new “lead,” but his role and every other living breathing persons role in this film has become inconsequential, even more so than usual.
While the Transformer films were good, there was at least something moderately cool about the way in which the visual effects were done, and the autobots connection with Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf). Instead the dialogue feels like a 15 year old boy was the creative mind behind the scenes, or a person who wanted to pretend they were 15 still.
This is the danger of nostalgia, and I read an excellent piece on this yesterday by Devin Faraci from Badass Digest and there was one quote that hit me, “nostalgia works best when it’s personal, when it’s private and when it’s practiced with those who you love and trust.”
Those who loved the Transformers growing up obviously have a personal connection to this film franchise, but does Michael Bay? Writer Ehren Kruger was producer on the first trilogy, but this is his first Transformers film as a writer. Kruger seems to poke fun at the style with which Bay directs his films through dialogue, it’s not Meta, and it does not come off clever. Jokes about never running out of ammunition, or resorting to violence last fall flat, and are just plain awkward. I can admit the first film was fun, but everything after has spiraled down. Bay and Kruger have polished this franchise so hard that it has lost the shiny aspect of the metal. This Transformers films is no longer fun, but rather a 165 minute chore, yes again its 165 minutes.
Films like this a proof that nostalgia is dangerous, and that Hollywood likes to enact the fantasies of little boys who want to blow everything up. There is already a fifth film in pre-production, and no doubt it will get made because even if it barely cracks 300 million, it will make money overseas, and isn’t that all that counts these days. Forget the sophomoric dialogue, and the obnoxious level of action that slams you in the face, enjoy wasting 15 dollars, and yes 165 minutes of your life. Let’s hope this franchise becomes extinct soon.