4 reasons why Paramount must be crazy to pitch Transformers 4 for the Best Picture Oscar
It's busy season for film studios this time of year as they try to pitch their biggest works to be considered for that greatest prize of all - the Academy Awards.
However, it seems like Paramount Pictures is getting a little carried away with Oscar fever after they released a "For Your Consideration" list - pitching Transformers: Age of Extinction as a candidate for Best Picture of the Year at the 87th Academy Awards.
Now don't get me wrong: I'm a huge Transformers fan and I was really, really stoked for the movie when trailers for the movie were released in May showing my all-time favourite character Grimlock getting the movie treatment and kicking all sorts of butt as a mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex.
But while AoE delivered on the flashy action scenes expect from a Michael Bay film, it was also horribly short on substance - as what you'd expect from a Michael Bay film.
While the popcorn flick was a box office hit - it's the only film to collect more than US$1 billion ($1.32 billion) worldwide in 2014 so far - it was universally given the thumbs down by critics, as evidenced by its status as the worst-reviewed of Michael Bay's four Transformer movies on Rotten Tomatoes with an 18 per cent rating.
Here's are five reasons why Age of Extinction doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Best Picture of the Year. Warning, some spoilers ahead.
1. It's a long, draggy movie
All of the live-action Transformers films have all clocked in at more than two hours each, but none of them feel quite as long and drawn-out as AoE does.
While Parts 1 through 3 each had amusing characters - both human and Cybertronian - that made the journey a lot more bearable, I did not find myself caring as much about AoE's new cast of humans, who unfortunately take up a lot more screen time compared to the titular giant robots in in disguise.
Yes, I actually preferred having Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky's character around as compared to Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg.
While funnyman Kelsey Grammar turned in a decent performance as human baddie Harold Attinger, there were too many yawning chasms of boring story and uninteresting characters to bridge the movie's action sequences.
Even the Transformers themselves weren't as interesting as previous installments.
While the portly Autobot warrior Hound, voiced by John Goodman, had several good moments, there wasn't enough from characterisation and dialogue from other bots new bots like Crosshairs and Drift.
Interstellar, one of Paramount's other films being championed for Best Picture of the Year, might clock in 12 more minutes than AoE's 157, but at least it had a solid cast of characters telling a story that made me feel like I was travelling at light speed in comparison.
2. The plot is a convoluted mess
Compounding AoE's unwieldy length and cumbersome pace is the movie's messy story.
I don't even know how to get started.
Firstly, the film features at least five different locations including the Arctic, Texas, Chicago, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Oh, it also comes with an escape from the spaceship of evil bounty hunter Lockdown.
If that didn't confuse you enough, the Decepticons, who were wiped out in the third movie, are brought back as "superior" evolutions of themselves but at least 50 of them are held off in Hong Kong by two lone Autobots. Right.
And right at the end, Optimus Prime, who takes one heck of a beating during the movie's final battle, leaves Earth to seek out the Transformers' creators - on his very own rocket pack. Makes you wonder why Transformers bother to even build spaceships in the first place if they could do that...
Factor in the boring back story of Wahlberg's Yeager character and that of his daughter Tessa, portrayed by Nicola Peltz, and you have a plot hole-laden movie that struggles to make sense of itself.
3. Dinobots: A horribly wasted opportunity
Like many Transformers fans clamouring for their inclusion, I was incredibly excited to find out that the Dinobots - a sub group of Autobot commandos who changed into robotic dinosaurs - were finally getting the live-action movie treatment with their inclusion in AoE.
Transformers fans around the globe wept with joy after having this much awesome thrust upon them in the trailers. Before having the movie inflicted on them.
Aside from being a bunch of complete badass robots that turned into dinosaurs (which kid doesn't like dinosaurs?), the Dinobots were also responsible for providing some of the lighter moments in the original Transformers series with their dim-witted natures.
Just check out this clip showing the best Dinobot moments from the Transformers animated movie from 1986:
In AoE, however, all characterisation of the Dinobots was completely thrown out the window - even their voices.
Essentially, all the Dinobots did was show up, get tamed by Optimus Prime, help turn the tide of battle in the final few minutes of the movie before being turned loose to roam Hong Kong by the Autobot leader.
After all the hype being built around their appearance in the movie, to see Grimlock and Co. being reduced to glorified non-speaking cameos was a major letdown and a missed opportunity.
4. The entire movie feels like a ridiculously long ad
It's a running joke among Transformers fans that the beloved cartoons of their youth only exist for toymaker Hasbro to sell more toys.
While the live-action Transformers movies have done a great job at selling toys, AoE takes things a step further and practically pedals an entire slew of consumer products to the watching audience.
Product placement is definitely not a new phenomenon in cinema, but with AoE, Michael Bay takes it and cranks things up by at least 200 per cent.
Just watch Screen Junkies' honest trailer (which basically covers all of my gripes) and see for yourself the various product placements - including some completely unrelated ones - that made it into AoE:
So. Much. Product. Placement.
While it might yet deserve an award for visual effects and even maybe something for Steve Jablonsky's wicked score, AoE is clearly nowhere near Best Picture of the Year material.
Unless Michael Bay starts his own category for Best Ad Placement Movie of the Year.