In the last couple days, I’ve watched a slew of publications gleefully pick apart every facet of Transformers: Age of Extinction. From plot to product placement, they’re skewering Michael Bay’s newest film with an intensity usually reserved for vultures on rotting meat.
To that, I just have one question.
What the hell did you expect?
Now, as a disclaimer, know that I haven’t yet actually seen Age of Extinction – but I’m pretty damn sure it’s exactly the same film as the last three. According to videos like this one, that’s a pretty safe bet:
This is not Schindler’s List. This not The Godfather. This isn’t even Die Hard 2.
This is a glorified toy commercial/80s cartoon about giant robots beating the hell out of each other. To expect anything else is just asinine.
Yes, the plot is likely borderline nonsense. Yes, there will be enough product placement that you’ll feel a strange yearning to buy a GMC when you leave the theatre. And yes, it will be overlong, overwrought, and Mark Whalberg will likely do little to endure himself to audiences after the abomination that was The Happening (thanks for that one, Shyamalan).
But you also get to see Optimus Prime ride a goddamn dinobot.
That’s right – voiced by Peter Cullen, in all his glory, riding a giant transforming dinosaur and swinging around a flaming sword. You get to watch glorious explosions (in IMAX and 3D, no less), Transformers sticking it to the U.S. Military (who are after them because ‘Murica) and enough wanton destruction to give a bulldozer an erection (which very well might happen in the next sequel).
Basically, you get an 80s cartoon brought to life with a $200 million budget. Don’t pretend that doesn’t make your inner eight year old lose his mind.
As a culture, we pick apart every film to an immeasurable degree – plumbing the depths of analysis to opine on thematic elements, allegory, and the “holy shit, what does it all mean” element to the point that many movies lose their charm. Just once, can’t we be okay with a movie doesn’t strive to be any more than it is?
Now, to be clear – I am not arguing that the Transformers franchise is full of legitimately good films. Far from it. They are, in many ways, exactly what critics say they are. But people like them. A lot. Early projections show Extinction could gross over $100 million on opening weekend. That’s nothing to scoff at.
But scoff we will, and mock Michael Bay for directing yet another over the top sequel that we refuse to enjoy even on some carnal sort of level – all because we can’t suspend our collective disbelief for two seconds and admit that giant transforming robots kicking each other’s asses is awesome.
And if we can’t admit that – well this is a sad, sad world that we’re living in.