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Transformers: Age of Extinction

Proof you can’t keep a good mechanoid down is seen in ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’.  The fourth in the mega-successful movie franchise, the series has made a fortune for its producers.  Given it advertises a toy-line while telling its’ highly stylised comic-strip tale, it’s doubly rewarding for all involved.  Never pretending to be high art, it’s a nonsensical parlour ride for those firmly leaving their brains at the door. 

 

Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is a mechanic eking out a living.  Raising his teenage daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), he is intrigued when he discovers an abandoned truck. Little does he know it contains Optimus Prime – leader of the heroic Autobots.  When powerful politicians led by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) attempt to unlock their secrets, all hell breaks loose.  With earth once again under threat of a robotic apocalypse, it’s up to Optimus and his new human friends to save the day before times runs out.

 

It would be easy dismissing the latest Transformers as bubble-gum rubbish.  Way too long, riddled with plot holes and risible performances, similar films would be quickly sent to the scrap-heap.  It is trashy but you don’t see these films for an engaging story.  What this entry has is an abundance of dazzling action and an effort in creating something new.  Series’ Director Michael Bay knows the score by now as he handles the explosive spectacle with ease.  Managing to find the right mix of humour and tension, he ensures ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ remains entertaining.

 

Not much can be said about the acting although Wahlberg equips himself well. His virtuous hero versus Grammer’s oily villain provides some relief against the CGI excess surrounding them.  Thankfully the special effects don’t descend into a mess enabling the viewer to see the creativity in the action sequences.  Negating these gains is a near three hour run-time making viewing an endurance test.  Less is usually far more although Bay deserves credit for his uncompromising way in conjuring high-octane hokum.

 

‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ is generally entertaining silliness for mass consumption.  A form of cinematic fast-food, it delivers the expected product with gusto and should please those who like marvelling at robotic fisticuffs.

 

Rating out of 10:  6

 

 

22 Jump Street

After the success of its first outing, it was a given ’21 Jump Street’ would spawn a sequel.  That doesn’t mean it was any good – just that it made plenty of money to please film executives.  ’22 Jump Street’ follows the same action/comedy formula with tons of gun-play and puerile humour.  Fans of the TV show, upon which this series is based, may wonder why its concept was so radically altered.  Where Hollywood is concerned such things are trivial with this sequel proving raking in dollars is far more vital than conjuring quality.

 

Famed for their exploits in a previous mission, officers Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are sent back to Jump Street.  Reporting to their boss Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), they are given their latest assignment.  Going undercover to bust a drug ring, they think it will be a breeze.  Their wayward ways become rudely shaken when they combat an army eager to protect their turf.

 

Whilst occasionally having some fun and showing genuine wit, ’22 Jump Street’ takes the easy way out.  Instead of providing character development and working hard at creating laughs, the producers opt for minimal characterisation and crudity.  Comedies used to be far more sophisticated with the potential to make this as timeless as many others lost.  Tatum and Hill display some good chemistry although their banter mirroring those from the ‘Lethal Weapon’ series becomes tiresome.

 

To their credit directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller put some edge to the material.  Their skewering of typical sequel conventions works and they handle the action sequences well.  It’s a shame the humour is mostly mis-handled with the original TV show’s ethos discarded for the sake of cheap gags.  ’22 Jump Street’ has few new elements to differentiate itself from its forebear.

 

Sequels should at least match or better the original outing.  ’22 Jump Street’ fails to do this.  Whilst its humour may have fans, it barely registers on the memory with its projected third offering something only its money-making producers would welcome.

 

Rating out of 10:  3