Monday, 30 June 2014

Jersey Boys: Movie Review

Jersey Boys: Movie Review

Cast: John Lloyd-Young, Erich Bergen, Vincent Piazza, Christopher Walken
Director: Clint Eastwood

It's the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in case you've never heard of the phenomenally popular Jersey Boys stage show that charts their rise and fall and rise again.

The original star of the Broadway show, the Travolta / Fonz look-a-like Lloyd-Young is Valli, a youngster in 1951 New Jersey, who's on the wrong side of trouble thanks to his friendship with Tommy (Piazza). But one thing they have in common is music - and that puts them on a path for stardom as they try to break through with their sound.

As ever, fame costs - and that where these Noo Joisey boys have to start paying - as the clashes and personal squabbles come to the fore during their ascent to the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1990.

Taking the smash hit stage play and transposing it to the big screen was always going to be a big ask - even for a director like Clint Eastwood. And while Eastwood's delved a little more into the relationships and tensions between Tommy and the rest of the band, for anyone who's seen the stage show, there's a distinct feeling that this jukebox musical has lost some of its fun and shine as it made its way to the big screen.

The first hour which charts the Goodfellas wannabe actions of Tommy and his interaction with the Mob (as rendered by Christopher Walken who phones it in and inadvertently causes sniggers as Valli's music brings him to tears) plods amid a sea of browns and beige, so deeply evocative of the era.

In fact, in among the characters breaking the fourth wall to spout exposition, there's a feeling that the film just isn't going anywhere that's not been clearly and obviously signposted. Even worse, it feels like you're watching a dour downbeat made for TV movie about gangsters that's as widely derivative as the Four Seasons' early attempts at songs.

It's not until the sounds of Sherry, Walk Like a Man and Big Girls Don't Cry are wheeled out once the group meets singer / songwriter Bob Gaudio and the outrageously flamboyant studio producer Bob Crewe (Mike Doyle) that Eastwood injects something resembling life into the proceedings. But having given a blast of energy as these hits are tossed into proceedings, the wind's taken out of the sails once again as Valli negotiates domestic issues and toxic Tommy brings the group crashing down.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly where Jersey Boys doesn't fully work - because the live singing, as used in Les Miserables, gives it a credibility and vitality it desperately needs. But in transitioning the stage show to the screen and being faithfully slavish to the source material, somehow all of the energy that you get from a live show, its set changes and audience reaction is sucked out by a 2 hour 10 minute run time that lacks a real joie de vivre. Throw into that narrative emotional beats which are missing - Tommy simply disappears off screen after a confrontation, Valli's daughter dies with no real emotion - and the issues that you'd have with a stage show are even more glaringly obvious up on the big screen.

While Eastwood's done a great job of recreating the era, and an end sequence medley offers a hint at what could have been as it crackles with vitality and energy, Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys may appeal to some determined to wallow in a haze of nostalgia and to diehard fans of the stage show alone.


ZB movie Review

Dracula Untold: Official Trailer drops

Dracula Untold: Official Trailer drops

Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, Immortals) stars in Dracula Untold, the origin story of the man who became Dracula.  

Gary Shore directs and Michael De Luca produces the epic action-adventure that co-stars Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Diarmaid Murtagh and Samantha Barks.

Watch the Dracula Untold Trailer below:

Are We Officially Dating?: Blu Ray Review

Are We Officially Dating?: Blu Ray Review

Rating: R16
Released by Sony Home Ent

Buddy boy rom-coms get another once over with this comedy with Zac Efron.

Efron is Jason, a lothario, who's all about the booty call and the lack of commitment. A book cover designer by day and barfly by night, he lives his life in the now, and always avoids that awkward moment in a relationship when it's about to turn serious.

But when his friend Mikey discovers his wife is cheating on him, he decides, along with their other lady killer buddy, Daniel (the ever impressive Miles Teller), that all three of them will stay single in a bromance commitment to each other for as long as they can.

However, that plan hits a roadblock when Daniel falls for the group's wingman (actually a woman) Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis) and Mikey keeps trying again with his wife. And things get worse for Jason, who falls for Imogen Poots' Ellie in a bar. After a one night stand, the pair bump into each other at Jason's work - and complications ensue.

Are We Officially Dating? aka That Awkward Moment is the kind of romcom that tries to appeal to the boys as it celebrates the bonds of bachelorhood but gets caught up in the schmaltz of typical romcom tropes.

It isn't always so during the start of the movie; there are playful moments and laugh out loud raunchy moments as anaked Zac Efron pivots on a toilet after taking Viagra and Michael B Jordan masturbates over a coaster from a woman whose number he got in a bar. But those moments fade pretty quickly as the script and story settles for something formulaic and entirely unenticing.

It's not really Efron's fault though - the story's lacking in any real fizzing moments as it plays out; Teller has some nice moments as he realises that the girl who's been helping him to hook up is the one for him and Jordan comes full circle as he realises that married life will never be the same. However, it's Poots' character who suffers the worst in this - she's initially feisty and a little bit independent but gradually begins to crumble as time goes on. Her worst crime is taking on Jason after he abandons her in an hour of need, just because of fears that by showing up, it would prove they're dating and committed.

All in all, Are We Officially Dating? has no incisive insight into modern relationships, nor does it offer enough of the stupidity to appeal to the male spectrum of cinema-goers. It's weak, lacking in ribaldry and fails to hit the spot at all.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Calvary: Movie Review

Calvary: Movie Review

Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, M Emmet Walsh, Dylan Moran, Domnhall Gleeson
Director: John Michael McDonagh

The sins of the Catholic church hang heavy over this drama from the team that brought us the deliciously dark The Guard.

Re-teaming up are McDonagh and Gleeson - this time around, Brendan Gleeson is Father James Lavelle, a priest in a small Irish community near Sligo. As the film opens, he's taking confession - and the very first words he hears point to the horror that's been blighting the Catholic Church for years - abuse.

Listening in, Father James is told that he will have to pay for the sins of the Fathers before him with his life in seven days' time because killing a good man is more shocking. So, with no apparent idea of who is behind this threat, Father James is forced down a path he'd never expected as he tries to deal solace to his parishioners while wondering which of them is behind the threat.

Calvary is a devilishly dark piece with humour as black as they come.

Gleeson is absolutely astounding as the priest, mixing calmness with serenity and compassion as the deadline draws nearer; he's a man who puts his people first despite their problems. And in and around Sligo, there are a fair few of them - domestic abuse, drug abuse, a banker who's part of the economic rot, depression, suicide, loss of faith, a doctor who's haunted by one moment; the list goes on - and may be a little hard for some to believe such an underbelly exists.

For Father James, there's the omni-present battle with his own demons in the shape of the bottle and a daughter who's recovering from a suicide attempt (Kelly Reilly, who does little), all reminders of a life before he came to the church.

But it's Gleeson who gives this life of quiet questioning and frustration an empathetic edge from under a beard and world weary eyes that sparkle with tolerance. As the Sunday of his showdown nears, Gleeson brings a subtle shift in character to the fore as the villagers begin to turn on him, unaware of his plight. Moran and O'Dowd also deserve praise for turning in darker performances than perhaps you'd normally credit them for.

However, this is not a bleak film even if the central tenet may be one of the darkest. Gallows humour and deadpan humour litter the script in a most unexpected way, with odd lines proving to be the relief needed. For those of a Catholic bent, the name Calvary won't be a lost choice, being the place Jesus was crucified and the parallels are certainly here for all to see as Father James faces his long dark night of the soul.

Calvary is a haunting piece of cinema, a film that rises high on Gleeson's shoulders - it's certainly one of the finest character releases of the year and stays with you long after the silent credits have rolled.

While the issues explored are laced with a darker humour than perhaps you'd expect, this moving piece hits its highs in one solitary moment where Father James says there's been too much time spent on sin and not enough time on virtue.

It's a bold statement but one which gives this Calvary more than enough powerful reasons for you to see.


How to Train Your Dragon 2: Movie Review

How to Train Your Dragon 2: Movie Review

Voice cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harrington
Director: Dean DeBlois

Four years ago, CGI tale How To Train Your Dragon impressed with its tale of Jay Baruchel's Viking Hiccup growing up and becoming friends with Toothless the dragon.

So, with the massive global box office success of the piece, an inevitable sequel is soaring into the cinemas, in time for holidays.

Five years on, Hiccup returns once more and is now living in a world where the Vikings are friends with the dragons and harmony is restored in the world of Berk. But when the duo discover another land which has a swarm of dragons around, they inadvertently unleash a new threat that could de-stabilise the established peace.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, what Hiccup discovers will change his own world forever.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 is apparently based on The Empire Strikes Back, with director DeBlois opting for more darkness this time around as Hiccup grows up and faces the responsibilities of life within the tribe.

There's certainly a slightly darker edge to it all with this latest outing but there's also a feeling of a lot more which sadly diminishes the charm of the first film.

There are plenty more dragons on show, plenty more characters - including one voiced by Kit Harrington from Game Of Thrones and a one-dimensional baddie voiced by Djimon Hounsou - and a lot more flying sequences (which manage to soar).

But the end effect is that it all feels a bit much as it leads up to a crescendo where sabre-tooth dragons battle and the screen's littered with action. Part of the charm of the first was the relationship between Toothless and Hiccup and their bonding - and while you wouldn't necessarily want a repeat of that second time around, that side definitely - and sadly - feels more sidelined.

The animation is lush, and the menagerie of dragons certainly impress, particularly thanks to copious sequences of flying, but the smaller moments are less to come by and are sorely missed. The sense of wonderment is lacking, and while you could argue that comes hand in hand with Hiccup's growing up on screen, it certainly means this sequel doesn't soar as much as it could.

The final section feels like a movie too far and despite everything whizzing on by and looking wondrous in 3D, the emotional moment that's supposed to resonate fails to hit the defining high it needs.

Overall, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is a fine treat, but it stops from resonating as much as it could and soaring as high as it should.


Saturday, 28 June 2014

New Doctor Who Peter Capaldi trailer materialises

New Doctor Who Peter Capaldi trailer materialises

Get excited Whovians.

A new trailer for Series 8 of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi has just dropped.

And the BBC's confirmed the new series begins on August 23rd with feature length episode Deep Breath.

There's no word yet on a New Zealand TX date and time.

Watch the new Doctor Who trailer below:

Nebraska: Blu Ray Review

Nebraska: Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

In this film, Bruce Dern plays Woody Grant, an old man, who's been sent a letter saying that he's won a million dollars but will need to collect it from Nebraska. Determined to get there come hell or high water, Woody's son David (Will Forte) decides, on a whim, to help the old man out, knowing full well it's a scam. 

But Woody's not the easiest of fathers - an alcoholic, ageing dad, whose distance from his son is never more pronounced than when they're on the road together. Throw into that mix, a road trip which includes family members and an old colleague of Woody's who believes he's owed money and it's clear that fractious times lie ahead.

Nebraska is a film which thrives on the understated and perfectly captured view of small town America.

Shot lavishly in black and white and with a sedentary pace as well as shots of mid-west America scattered throughout, Payne's created something remarkable that perfectly encapsulates the lifestyles of many living in places of its ilk. (It helps that Payne is from the region he's filming.)

There's an inherent sadness to Dern's near-silent cowed and stooping portrayal of Grant, a man whose life has been swilled in alcohol and who now finds himself permanently housed beneath a white shock of hair, teetering on the edge of dementia. But there's humour and stubbornness to in his belief that the million dollars he's been promised will come true; it's a bittersweet belief that sustains this road trip, binds him inexorably to his son as the journey continues.

However, it's his occasionally irascible and naive interaction with others and a sense of self-belief that comes to the fore on the screen. Nowhere is this more evident than with his interaction with the bullying Stacy Keach's Ed Pegram, a former colleague who's now desperate to claw back some borrowed money. Along with the straight man Will Forte, there's a tenderness as this plays out its inevitable path.

But this is not a film about a cranky old man and hilarity therefrom - this is a movie dripping in poignancy and drenched in the details of family lives that all of us share and all of us will recognise; from the family gathering in the front room around the TV talking about nothing, to the ties that bind fathers and sons together.

It feels as if Payne's film-making and story are from experience this time around and there's a naturalness which pervades the movie that's hard to deny and difficult not to revel in. Sure, you could argue that in this day and age, who's going to believe a scam like that, but in mid-western America, populated as it is with family squabbling over the trivial minutiae, this film is packed with insight - Nebraska is completely watchable, affecting and utterly engaging.

Extras: Making of


Friday, 27 June 2014

2014 New Zealand International Film Festival interview with Bill Gosden

2014 New Zealand International Film Festival interview with Bill Gosden

Tickets for the New Zealand International Film Festival are on sale after the launch of the programme in Auckland on Monday and Wellington last night.
As the masses prepare their cinematic scramble, I caught up with Festival Director Bill Gosden to chew the fat, look at parts of the programme and also find out from him which is the one film he believes definitely deserves your time.

Bill Gosden at Auckland's Civic Theatre, 2014
It seems to be the strongest line up yet, with a programme that suggests diversity as well as crowd-pleasing fare, how are you feeling about the line up this year?
I’m still pinching myself to believe it’s all there. We’ve a total of 139 films and a mere 37 of them were nailed down in the fortnight between Cannes and the printer’s deadline. But yes, I think the balance of great idiosyncratic movies, more genre-based fare, not to mention terrific documentaries, is a very pleasing one this year.

20 titles from Cannes as well - from award winners like Winter Sleep, Map to The Stars, Leviathan - how have you managed to secure these this year and how do you think they will be received?
Of course there’s always advance speculation about what will make it to Cannes, but there’s little point in our focussing on it before the official selection is announced. Then it’s a matter of keeping a close eye on who is handling what – which can change quite quickly - so we know exactly who to talk to once programmer Sandra Reid has seen the films there and prioritised our hit list.

The Cannes films I’ve been able to see myself by now are very exciting.  I don’t imagine anyone being bored by them. And I can’t wait to catch up with the ones I’ve still not seen, especially Leviathan, Force Majeure, Maidan and Winter Sleep.

It also feels like an incredibly strong NZ set of entrants this year is it a vintage year for NZ and what does opening with The Dark Horse says?
That it’s a beautiful film – and that NZIFF is perfectly placed to help it along the way to the success that surely awaits it.

We also have Housebound as well for the main programme - a suggestion perhaps that there's a wide audience for this with the buzz eminating from SXSW?
Hell, yes. If audiences don’t want to have this much fun, then it’s time I headed for a life of simplicity and quiet contemplation.

Which other NZ titles stand out to you?
I think each of them is surprisingly specific in its appeal. If you’re looking for what else on the New Zealand programme might please the widest audience, the Ngā Whanaunga Maori Pasifika Shorts programme this year is terrific.

I'm very interested in the multi-platform approach for Everything We Loved - how did that come about and do you see this potentially being a way forward for the festival and other local titles?
Definitely – and for international titles too. We are well aware that not everyone can get to the handful of screenings we are presenting on any one film. But we have taken on so much change this year – a new site, new ticketers in Auckland and Wellington, a condensed tour programme – that VOD was not something we had the resources to explore more fully in 2014. The Four Knights team were very keen to take this new path with their film so Everything We Loved provided the perfect starting point using the new NZ Film Commission VOD platform.

You've also managed to secure a lot of titles that have had buzz around and are very anticipated within the community - from Locke to Snowpiercer and Under The Skin - is this a push to get more into the auditorium or to satiate the film community's appetites?
The buzz is completely justified. We had our hands up for all three films very early. It has worked out perfectly for us that they all took their time getting here – and then landed in our laps.

It's also exciting to see David Michod return after the terrific Animal Kingdom - what can you tell us about The Rover? And a return for Florian Habicht as well with Pulp... how does it feel to bring old faves back to the fest?
The Rover feels like something David Michod might almost have done before Animal Kingdom. It’s brutal and stylish and will certainly keep you wide awake, but it’s much less impassioned and complex than the earlier film. The Pulp doco is pure Florian and pure Pulp too, a marriage made in pop heaven.
The Rover

There seem to be some films of a similar ilk / themes - Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal and Richard Aoyade's The Double as well as Fargo touches for Kumiko and In Order of Disappearance - purely coincidence or deliberate?
Signs of the times to be interpreted as you like. You should also note that the little dog turned up on our poster before we’d even heard about Cannes Palm D’og winner The White God which culminates in a spectacular canine uprising. Pure coincidence?  Who can be sure?

What's the one film you're delighted is on the programme and why? Conversely, what's the one title you'll be ensuring you've got a seat for as part of the audience / big screen experience?
Just one?  Are you insane?  Here’s a few that absolutely demand the biggest screens in the nation: Snowpiercer, Home from Home, Leviathan, 20,000 Days on Earth, Under the Skin, Salt of the Earth, Wild Tales.

Which titles does your gut tell you will appeal to the masses?
If I had such a helpful gut, I’d probably not be working at a film festival. I’ll be perplexed if there aren’t masses of fashionistas charmed by Dior and I.
We Come As Friends

What's the one title that you want people to try above all else - and why?
We Come as Friends is a potently cinematic new film from the director of Darwin’s Nightmare. He built his own plane, created aircrew-style uniforms for himself and co-pilot/sound man and flew into South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, on the ‘official business’ of simply filming whatever they found when they landed. It’s astounding what access this ploy opened up for them – and what risks they took to capture 21st-century colonialism in sordid action.

What can you tell us about the guests coming to the festival this year?
Rolf de Heer should be no stranger. His films with David Gulpilil have been my own favourites amongst the many he’s produced and directed. Charlie’s Country, the latest of these, is wonderful. Sophie Hyde also hails from South Australia and her 52 Tuesdays, a very contemporary take on coming-of-age, won her the World Cinema Direction award at Sundance this year.
Charlie's Country

Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine are a San Francisco duo whose documentaries – notably Ballets Russes – have often featured at NZIFF before. And Kitty Green is a young Australian who risked life and limb and the hospitality of the KGB to record the activities of the Ukrainian feminist cadre FEMEN.

The festival has a good solid travel itinerary this year as well, you must be excited about heading into some regions that have never seen you or you've not been around for a while?
Timaru is our one new location this year. It’s great to have Gore back for a second year. They’ll be opening with Housebound this year, and extending a Mainland welcome to its Invercargill-born director.

Is the programme complete - or are you chasing some last minute acquisitions that you're hoping to secure.....?
That settles it. You definitely are insane.

Full details of all the titles can be found at the New Zealand International Film Festival website -

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery Blu Ray full details revealed

The box-set will be presented in in 1080p with English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and original English Stereo 2.0 audio with an RRP of £69.99 in the UK.

Below are the full details of the ten discs:

Disc One:
  • Pilot
    • Original Version
    • Alternate International Version
  • Episode 1
  • Episode 2
  • Special Features
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Two:
  • Episode 3
  • Episode 4
  • Episode 5
  • Episode 6
  • Episode 7
  • Special Features
    • Season 1 Image Gallery
    • Twin Peaks Sneak Peeks (HD)
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Previews and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Three:
  • Episode 8
  • Episode 9
  • Episode 10

  • Special Features
    • A Slice of Lynch: Uncut (HD) - NEW!
    • Season 2 Image Gallery
    • Promos (HD/SD)
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Four:

  • Episode 11
  • Episode 12
  • Episode 13
  • Episode 14
  • Special Features
    • Series Deleted Scenes
    • Series Deleted Scenes (HD) - NEW!
    • Outtakes (HD) - NEW!
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Five:

  • Episode 15
  • Episode 16
  • Episode 17
  • Episode 18
  • Special Features
    • Return To Twin Peaks
    • Location Guide
    • The Glastonbury Archives
      • 17 Pieces of Pie: Shooting at the Mar T (AKA RR) Diner
      • Mark Frost Interview with Wrapped in Plastic
      • Learning to Speak in the Red Room
      • An Introduction to David Lynch
      • Lucy Bumpers
      • 1-900 Hotline
      • Production Documents
      • Image Galleries
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Six:

  • Episode 19
  • Episode 20
  • Episode 21
  • Episode 22
  • Special Features
    • Postcards From The Cast
    • Twin Peaks Sneak Peaks (HD)
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Seven:

  • Episode 23
  • Episode 24
  • Episode 25
  • Episode 26
  • Special Features
    • Cast And Crew Interviews
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Eight:

  • Episode 27
  • Episode 28
  • Episode 29
  • Special Features
    • Secrets From Another Place: Creating Twin Peaks (HD)
      • Northwest Passage: Creating the Pilot
      • Freshly Squeezed: Creating Season One
      • Where We're From: Creating the Music
      • Into the Night: Creating Season Two
    • Log Lady Intros (HD)
    • Preview and recaps on select episodes (HD)

Disc Nine:

  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
  • The Missing Pieces: Deleted/Alternate Scenes (HD) - NEW!
  • Special Feature
    • Archival Interviews

Disc Ten:

  • Special Features
    • Between Two Worlds (HD) - NEW!
      • Palmer Family Interview
      • Actors Discussion
    • Moving Through Time: Fire Walk With Me Memories (HD) - NEW!
    • Reflections On The Phenomenon Of Twin Peaks
    • US Trailer
    • International Trailer
    • Fire Walk With Me Photo Gallery - NEW!
    • Atmospherics (HD) - NEW!
      • Trees/Woods
    • Signs/Places
    • Coffee
    • Notes
    • Water
    • Donuts
    • Owls
    • The Ring
    • The Red Room

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction Movie Review

Transformers: Age of Extinction Movie Review

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, TJ Miller, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammar, Peter Cullen
Director: Michael Bay

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION begins after an epic battle left a great city torn, but with the world saved.  As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history…while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs.
With help from a new cast of humans (led by Mark Wahlberg), Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet.  In an incredible adventure, they are swept up in a war of good and evil, ultimately leading to a climactic battle across the world.

This time around, following the mass destruction in Chicago in Transformers 3, the Autobots are being hunted down in a series of black ops raids, headed by Kelsey Grammar's conniving Harold Attinger who's in cahoots with robot bounty hunter Lockdown.

When Mark Wahlberg's Cade Yeager, an inventor (go with it, it's Michael Bay's world) and single struggling father, finds the battered and beaten truck Optimus Prime, he inadvertently brings him back to life - and brings the fight directly to his door and his daughter Tessa....

Transformers : Age of Extinction is exactly what you would expect from the fourth in a series that's not exactly set the world alight in terms of character-driven plot.

In some ways, this latest is a reboot with a new group of humans brought into the fold; but it's the usual fare of noble speeches about what it means to be human, loyalty and mass scale destruction, packaged up in an overly bloated FX fest.

And this does go on; in its 2hour 45minute run time, it feels like the story will never end as one video game level moment is tenuously linked to the next, with each full stop being a set piece of destructive Bayhem.

Not content with smashing up Chicago and putting his humans in a post 9/11 world where humans are encouraged to dob in any robots they see (it can't be a coincidence that a lot of the early scenes have the American flag flying high wherever possible and the robots are on a pack of cards a la Saddam Hussein), Bay turns his attention to getting the gang into China under the most tenuous of circumstances but no doubt to appeal to the lucrative Far East market.

Lunk-headed it may be, and with an over-reliance on slow mo action shots and an ear-shattering score, but there's no denying Bay knows how to do a set piece (even if the pre-requisite tensions are missing due to good characters). Instead of speeding up the action, Bay gives some scenes the benefit of breathing and thereby providing the IMAX with some visual treats.

However, Bay brings his usual level of depth to the plot; bringing into the world a new element called Transformium, turning the initial bad guy of the piece Joshua Joyce (a great turn by the eminently watchable Stanley Tucci) into a comedy caricature full of ham and throwing into the father / daughter mix a boyfriend (Jack Reynor) who has zero charm and exists simply to shoe horn tension into the piece.

Granted, you don't do a Michael Bay film for characters and banal dialogue (One line - "Contracts are like humans - they expire"), but for the action and while Bay delivers the mechanical mayhem and catastrophic carnage in spades, there are moments when the film feels like it's going on for much longer than is remotely necessary. 

Certainly, there's a juncture where it feels like two films have been sandwiched together with a weak story plot and the dinosaur ex machina won't satisfy some as the Bayhem never ends and the Transformer legacy hokum is extended (a final sequence hinting at more to come)

The problem with Transformers: Age of Extinction is that it's a soulless experience, with the ideas that the human race has turned on the Autobots and their place in the universe is threatened wildly unexplored and traded for reams of action sequences that do nothing to really service the plot. 

While the human element (particularly Nicola Peltz - even if she is just in short shorts and spends most of the movie being leered at by Bay's camera) goes someway to expunge the likes of Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whitely from the Transformers memory, this latest outing for the franchise doesn't feel like it actually brings anything radically new to the table. It lacks a real cohesion for the plot and as a result, makes the whole thing feel like a slog determined to visually beat you into submission rather than a blockbuster pleasure.


Watch the Transformers: Age of Extinction movie trailer!

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