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Transformers: Age of Extinction: Unmemorable Action Flick
Fast action sequences and blowing things up are what the Hollywood filmmaker veteran, Michael Bay, knows best. His work on the Transformers film series almost came to an end back in 2011 when he himself announced that Dark of the Moon will be his third and final film in the series, only to be sucked back in by Age of Extinction.
Several years have passed since the Battle of Chicago where the Autobots battled the Decepticons. In order to ensure that the catastrophe never happens again, government agent, Harold Attinger (Grammer), has assigned tech guru, Joshua Joyce (Tucci), to destroy and deconstruct all of the remaining Transformers in order to create new robots that serve the US military.
Attinger recruits a black ops team led by James Savoy (Welliver) to hunt down the remaining transformers in hiding, with the help of Lockdown (voiced by Ryan); a Transformer that tracks and kills oits own kind.
Meanwhile, Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) - a Texas mechanic and protective father of a young and restless teenage daughter, Tessa (Peltz) - comes across an old truck that has been brought into his shop. The truck is revealed to be the Autobot leader, Optimus Prime, in disguise, but his emergence brings the unwanted attention of Attinger.
Like the rest of the series, Age of Extinction is riddled with giant plot holes, underwritten characters and a thinly-scripted storyline that has been stretched out to nearly three hours. Sure, there are plenty of explosions to go around and if anything, at least Michael Bay's mastered use of CGI - and his skilful eye for angles and backdrops - contributes to the experience. If you are a true Transformers fan, there is very little chance you will be disappointed with what you see.
As the new face of the series, Wahlberg seems committed and physically prepared for the role, but, regardless of his readiness and obvious eagerness to be a part of yet another Bay production – see Pain & Gain - he does get a little lost in the process. As his rebellious teenage daughter, Peltz fails to portray any sincere emotion, while Tucci seems to be the only one who offers any real charisma to his otherwise cartoonish role of a nutty professor.
Overall, the latest – and hopefully the last - addition to the now already exhausted franchise is long, loud and explosive and is probably best described as an unmemorable and an unchallenging action flick. No more Mr. Bay; we beg you.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.