Friday, June 27, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction [2014]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (1 1/2 Stars) (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)

As part of my contribution in our parish's participation in the Archdiocese of Chicago's Campaign "To Teach Who Christ Is," I've decided to forgo seeing (and therefore reviewing here) one or two movies a weekend and instead contribute the money I would have spent to the campaign.

I'm trying to be strategic about this, picking movies that would "hurt somewhat" to miss, that is, films that are not "so bad" that I wouldn't see them anyway nor movies that I really would need to see/review or else my blogging effort would cease to be worthwhile.

As per my custom, I will try to provide links to usual line-up of reviews that I also consider as I write my own.

This week I chose to not see ... Transformers: Age of Extinction [2014].  To some that may be "no surprise."  Yet, I did actually write extensively (and reviewed quite favorably) the previous installment Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon [2012].  It's just that on a limited budget ... Plus, why do these films have to be sooo loooonnnnggggg?  Anyway, since T3:DotM [2012], there have been several other popular films that have continued to discuss humanity's increasingly complicated relationship with technology (notably Her [2013] and Transcendence [2014]. In addition, the Science Channel's popular series Through the Wormhole [2010+] devoted an entire episode to the question of whether Robots will be the next step in human evolution).  So if nothing else, as one watches (or simply calls to mind the prospect of) GIGANTIC transformer robots descending onto earth to ABSOLUTELY DEMOLISH humanity's most prized previous achievements, perhaps this can be an invitation to reflect on the possibilities and implications of the increasingly blurred distinction between us and the gadgets we make.

Then again, we might just stand mesmerized in front of the fireworks and mayhem.  The 4th of July is coming up, after all...

In any case, there's plenty of mayhem in the Transformer films.  Perhaps though, they can still invite us to reflect on something more substantive than just crashing buildings ...(We've been through that for real afterall...)


Fascinatingly, Transformers: Age of Extinction [2014] became the first movie of 2014 to break $100 million for its opening weekend in the U.S.  Generally movies like this are supposed to "do well" overseas.  But in this case, this movie hasn't even been released outside of the United States until the World Cup ends, and it still made this kind of money _here_, domestically in the U.S.A. 

I've long maintained on my blog that when a film like this -- basically "HUGE shape-shifting ROBOTS arrive FROM OUT OF NOWHERE to SMASH THINGS (as well as each other)" -- makes this kind of money, it's because it "speaks to people" on "a deeper level" that goes beyond the rational.  This film is clearly one of archetypes and the collective subconscious:  Technology can be experienced today as "shape-shifting" and punishing / humiliating to "ways" and achievements "of the past." 

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