Transformers: Age of Extinction

Twilight Texting in Theaters

Here’s some fun news to read after watching the trailer for Jason Reitman’s latest (see our post from earlier today). And by fun, I’m sure for many of you I should mean infuriating. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chinese cinemas are testing out a new system for interactive moviegoing where the audience is able to contribute to running commentary of the film on screen. The gimmick involves “bullet screens,” which are named such for the way the messages scroll across the movie, and it’s a concept that’s been around for a while online in Japan and more recently China. The new big screen version, though, can currently be found in 50 theaters in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and other cities, specifically at showings of the 3D animated feature The Legend of Qin. Why an animated feature? Because it’s mostly young people who are interested in the danmu craze, as bullet screens are called over there (danmaku in Japan), and because as THR relays from a translated Chinese publication, it’s “for younger viewers who can’t spend five minutes away from their tablet or phone.” That sounds like theater owners are both cashing in on a trend (each text sent to screen costs 10 cents) and perpetuating a new social problem that probably doesn’t need encouragement. This is the same country that, as shown in the new documentary Web Junkie, has enough of an issue with youths being addicted to the Internet that they’ve become the first in the world to label it a clinical disorder. Interestingly enough, the director of The […]

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Paramount Pictures

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Mark Wahlberg in Age of Extinction

Nobody was waiting to see how Transformers: Age of Extinction performed before deciding to do a fifth movie. Paramount knew it would wind up with the best opening of 2014, even if they had to allegedly lie about just how much it earned. The studio had previously announced Transformers 5 would arrive in 2016, and although that too might be a lie, the point is that it will be made. The question is, what more is there to do with the franchise? Could Chicago take a third beating? Will Mark Wahlberg return, and will his character, Cade Yeager, be able to continue being humorously amazed at finding Transformers and infinite-ammo space guns and other alien technology he wants to hypocritically steal and patent for himself? We aren’t even certain that Michael Bay is returning, though it is likely he’ll be back at the helm, more so if Paramount lets him do another “small” movie, a la Pain & Gain, beforehand. The problem for the studio would be that allowing Bay the passion project definitely means they’d be off track for an opening two years from now. If only there was a way for both sides to get what they want. Well, I think I have a solution for that compromise: Bay should make Transformers 5 his “small” movie.

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Seinfeld Finale

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Curse of the Golden Flowers at Wulong

Whether or not you have any desire to see Transformers: Age of Extinction, this week’s list of recommended movies is worth a look. I’ve even tried to avoid spoiler-y relevance for once, although I guess that doesn’t matter if you have no interest in the movie at all. Consider this a mere checklist of titles to catch up with after or instead of seeing the fourth Transformers. As usual, most of them are linked to something or someone in the new release in question, mainly for a better, earlier reference point for scenarios and tropes and themes. None of them require your viewing of Age of Extinction to appreciate them overall, though. Before I get to the movies, I’d like to note some non-movie recommendations. One is the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, unless you’re some person without a sense of humor who is glad actor T.J. Miller only has a little bit of screen time in the new Transformers. Another is any match featuring Olympic gold medalist turned professional boxer Zou Shiming, who plays an extra in an elevator who just happens to know martial arts (because Hollywood thinks all Chinese people do). Many can be found on YouTube. There’s also Transformers: The Premake, a video essay that I guess could count as a movie. I already wrote plenty about that recently.

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Transformers Age of Extinction

 The Transformers franchise has never been about humans – or, at least, it’s never been about Michael Bay’s on-screen humans, who have now proven to be wholly interchangeable even after a seemingly complete trilogy of films. Bay has restarted his weirdest franchise (sorry, Bad Boys, you’re just not strange enough) with Transformers: Age of Extinction, a final-sounding feature (what could possibly come after extinction? Bay’s answer is, of course, at least two other films) that abandons both the human characters that populated the first trilogy and the upbeat conclusion that seemingly wrapped it all up in satisfying fashion. Set four years after the battle of Chicago (billboards declare “REMEMBER CHICAGO!” in locales as far away as Texas), Age of Extinction picks up in a world still reeling from the revelation that there are aliens in the universe who are so technologically advanced that they can turn into vending machines at will (oh, and who can also kill without prejudice). Inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) doesn’t seem too put out by the news that we’re not alone in the galaxy – he’s too busy trying to program robots that can deliver beers, keeping his teen daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) from the opposite sex (like her secret boyfriend Shane, Jack Reynor), bilking his only employee (T.J. Miller) out of his cash and pretending he’s from Texas. The Yeagers may be rich in big ideas, but they’re poor in their bank accounts, so Cade and Tessa need something major to happen in order […]

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summermovieprediction_wk9

Welcome to week nine of our 2014 Summer Box-Office Challenge! Think of it as a summer-long contest for movie-lovers — you’ll make predictions and guesses as to which summer movies will rule the box-office each week, we award points and at the end of the contest the three top point-earners will each win a Blu-ray/DVD prize pack! First place will win ten (10) Blu-ray/DVD titles released throughout the coming summer, second place wins five (5) and third place wins two (2). We’ll have bonus questions each week as well to help bolster your point totals and keep you in the running. The majority of you chose correctly last week and picked the Think Like a Man sequel to win the weekend box office, but it looks to be incredibly close with 22 Jump Street earning just one million dollars less. The estimates show Think banking $30m — a nice round number sure to change slightly once the actuals come in later today — and Jump falling less than 50% in its second weekend to bring in $29m. (It’s rare but not unheard of for estimates to be off by more than $1m, so it’s possible our results below may change significantly.) As for last week’s bonus question, Roman Polanski’s Venus In Furs earned less than $32k bringing in only $26k for its opening weekend. We’ll update once the actuals come in later today, but here are the top five players based on the estimates. [EDIT: The actuals are in, and Think Like a Man 2 […]

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Transformers the Premake

Last night I watched the documentary O.J.: Trial of the Century, which debuted on Investigative Discovery last week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman’s murders on June 12, 1994 (today, of course, is the anniversary of the infamous white Bronco chase that followed five days later). Directed by Nicole Rittenmayer (102 Minutes that Changed America), it’s an exceptional compilation film, a rarity for a TV production in that it features no talking heads or narration or any other sort of retrospective commentary. The only exposition is in the spare titles occasionally used for chronological purpose and whatever exists within the archival clips pieced together to form the historical narrative of O.J. Simpson’s arrest and trial. In addition to offering that narrative, though, the film works on another level. Its very form says a lot about the media landscape two decades ago, and I thought about that through this morning as I watched a counterpart that similarly represents media proliferation of today. Only this other new film, a short compilation documentary titled Transformers: The Premake, is so distinctly immediate compared to Rittenmayer’s feature that it’s about something that sort of hasn’t even happened yet. Made by film critic and video essay master Kevin B. Lee, the 24-minute piece is an innovative and unauthorized making-of doc about the production of Transformers: Age of Extinction, which opens in the U.S. in 10 days (and premieres in Hong Kong this Thursday). It’s not just about the Transformers sequel, though, as […]

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Paramount Pictures

There was a question for a brief while as to whether or not director Michael Bay would return to the Transformers franchise he helped create once the initial trilogy was complete. The answer came fairly quickly after his critically successful but lowest grossing film yet, Pain & Gain, came and went at the box office last year. The third film’s $1B+ haul probably had something to do with his return as well, but all of that is filler. Bring on the transforming metallic creatures! Transformers: Age of Extinction features a world where mankind has turned its back on the intergalactic visitors who’ve saved our asses three times now. An Earth without space-born threats is an Earth without a need for Transformers apparently, so our friends Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Snake Eyes, El Beardo, Yellow Stream, Racist Caricature, Ricardo Montalban and others are scattered and in hiding. An all-American farmer (Mark Wahlberg) finds Prime rotting in a junkyard, and soon the semi, the farmer and his “hot” daughter are racing to save the world from Stanley Tucci. I may need to watch the trailer again.

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transformers-age-of-extinction

Perhaps casually tossing the word “extinction” into the subtitle of a blockbuster franchise that was once presumed dead (victorious in death, but still dead in theory!) is a bad idea. The (presumably) first film in Michael Bay’s recently relaunched Transformers franchise is set to hit theaters this summer, and the series is starting to go great guns on this marketing thing, launching a full-scale trailer attack during yesterday’s dismal Super Bowl. While the game may have disappointed, the first trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction actually looked quite good (well, it does look like a Transformers trailer, but a good one in the context of things), and it featured the arrival of some robotic, transform-y new characters that might just save this whole outing (sorry, Mark Wahlberg). The Dinobots are here! In the Transformers universe (where, yes, we’re betting Shia LaBeouf actually is still famous), the Dinobots are Autobots whose transformational mode makes them appear to be dinosaurs or similarly prehistoric beasts. Basically, no, they are not turning into planes, trains, or automobiles. Dinobots also get to bot out, thanks to their ability to fight in “robot mode” (much like evil Decepticons). Despite being Autobots by nature and literal design (the original origin story for the Dinobots actually holds that they were built by Wheeljack and Ratchet on Earth), they tend to be independent and interested in their own pursuits and aims. They are wild cards. And they are also dinosaurs that are also robots that are also born from […]

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Transformers Age of Extinction - Empire Cover

The new-fangled Optimus Prime plays cover model on the latest edition of Empire Magazine alongside Transformers: Age of Extinction co-stars Mark Wahlberg, generic white tough guy #37 and some sort of Alyssa Milano/Tara Reid hybrid. The image had a strange effect that crept up on me, and it wasn’t until staring down the replacement cast for a few moments that I realized what it was: this could be the announcement of a brand new franchise. As in, a first-look at the never-before-attempted adaptation of the 1980s toys into live-action Bayhem. Like Shia Labeouf and the worst last name possible never happened. Like Megan Fox was just a dream. A reboot in the truest sense. And isn’t that what all reboots futilely attempt to do? They often crop up just minutes after we saw the last of them (hence the futility), but Transformers might be uniquely situated to effectively use the little red blinky light thingy from MIB on its audience. Granted, I wasn’t really a fan so I don’t think about the series all that much, but with a backbone of CGI characters and disposable humans, Michael Bay‘s Magnum Optimus is well-positioned to shoot amnesia bullets at us. For a moment, it worked on me, and it was like seeing the big screen leader of the Autbots for the first time. [Empire Online]

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