Wednesday, July 09, 2014

"Transformers: Age of Extinction": yes, the best part of the film was shot in China (including Hong Kong) and is politically correct for the "People's Republic"


I took up the theory of Ezra Klein (Vox Media) about “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (that is, “Transformers IV”) and saw the 166-minute Paramount epic, directed by Michael Bay, late last night, after the storms.  Writing the script would have been a monumental job for Ehren Kruger.
    
Klein calls “Transformers 4” a “Master class in Economics”, here

 Indeed, the last 45 minutes, set in China (Beijing as well as Hong Kong) make the best part, and the photography of both cities is spectacular.  I didn’t know that some of the high-rises in Hong Kong are really ragtag.  (Other than this, there is nothing to make the Chinese government look too bad.) Are those caves really on the same island as Hong Kong, or somewhere in SE China? Anyway, this film will do well in China.  It’s not something that I could personally aspire for with my won film ideas.
  
The idea of aliens as “organic robots” is logical enough – having transformed themselves into machines so they can transit space-time.  The look reminds me a bit of several movie traditions – “Alien” movies, “Jurassic Park” (why are they shaped like dinosaurs and velociraptors?) and even the hive-spaceship of “Independence Day”.  And the machines become real characters.

The film is also set on the plains of Texas, and there is an earlier battle for Chicago. 

Now Cade Yaeger (Marky Mark Wahlberg) is an inventor, and some of his lines reminded me of the battles going on right now about patent trolls.  His daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), 17, has a charismatic boyfriend Shane Dyson, 20 (Colorado-born Jack Reynor) who gets to figure into the heroics later.  But fairly early there is a curious distraction back in Texas.  Cade questions Shane about his having a relationship (never shown explicitly) with an “underage” daughter, and threatens Shane, who pulls out a printout of the Texas “Romeo and Juliet” law.  Actually, the age of consent in Texas is 17, so the relationship would have been legal.  I wondered why this thread was in there.

In any case, Shane (the actor is just 22) is so charismatic that I wondered if he was conceived as a heterosexual counterpart to  “Shane Lyons” in the “Judas Kiss” movie.  Timo Descamps had played that character, but that reminds me of something else.  There’s no more Sam Witwicky played by “Hiya” Shia LaBeouf, of comparable swagger; I thought, well, this move could have used Richard Harmon (“the greatest of all time”) as a character in the Shia vein.  I guess, it doesn’t pay for some actors (Shia) to become bad boys. Remember, Shia did a bang-up job hosting SNL for NBC at the age of 20, before he could legally drink.

As for the plot synopsis, it’s long and intricate (on imdb), and I don’t think it presents a very realistic ide of CIA ops.

I did make mental note of an opening scene, where the Transformer machines are hovering over a deep valley on another planet.  Was that "Arinelle" (the name that National Geographic gave to a fictitious planet in its 2005 documentary "Extraterrestrials"?  If so, it should be shown as tidally locked. 

  
The site is here (Paramount).   Paramount’s musical logo can go head-to-head with Fox and Lionsgate when it’s used.

Wikipedia attribution link for 2008 Olympic site in Beijing. 

 I saw the film in a large auditorium at Regal Ballston with 3-D, RPX, and only a few other people, late Tuesday.    

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