Michael Bay has run into some bad luck, because Transformers: Age of Extinction is actually pretty decent fun. There, I said it. And yes, this is after criticizing the last two films like there was no tomorrow. Yes, Revenge of the Fallen was written during the Writer’s Strike, but some how I suspect nothing would have changed had it not happen. Yes, Dark of the Moon was a convoluted mess. But for Age of Extinction, the film actually works, despite its completely unnecessary runtime and need to interject the typical Michael Bay tropes.
The film has a new cast of humans and transformers dealing with a new threat that could change the world. Of course since this is a Michael Bay film, there has got to be those Michael Bay tropes: the explosions, the camera circling shot followed by a speedy zoom in, the excessively sexed up females, the racism, and Because this wouldn’t be a Transformers film without any of them. And even with those tropes, this Age of Extinction is the kind of bat shit fun I remember watching in the first Transformers film. Hit the jump for the full review.
Age Of Extinction takes place a few years after the events of Dark of the Moon, where humans are now hunting both factions of Transformers. But they are not without help. With the assistance of a rogue transformer named Lockdown, the humans are mercilessly hunting transformers to no end, much the the dismay of the Autobots. Meanwhile Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is collecting all sorts of scrap parts and metal in order to repair or resell them in hopes of putting her daughter, Tessa (Nicola Pertz), through college. Upon one of his searches, Cade believes a truck he found will be his new source of wealth. But it turns out that the truck is actually Optimus Prime in disguise. And it turns out that Lockdown and the humans hunting the autobots as part of some sort of deal where Lockdown gets to collect trophies, and humans get to collect the organic life that the transformers are made of – you will definitely get a kick out of what they decided to call it.
As you can imagine, a plot as spread thin as this one could only belong in an excessively long film as Transformers: Age of Extinction. The film really doesn’t make any sense or point out the plot in the first few minutes, and until we get to see Cade for the first time does the ball really start to get rolling. It is all just so very confusing, but that didn’t make Age of Extinction any less thrilling. In fact the film is the most coherent of any of the Transformers live-action films.
I’m not going to lie, I really went into this film with very low expectations. This is thanks in part to my experience with the last two films. But, this semi-reboot sees an entirely new cast of humans. One that doesn’t have Shia LeBeouf in the picture. No, Shia, and none of his character saying “No” in various increments and tones. And while the film is not short on explosions or pin up dolls – it is a Michael Bay film after all -, the film does have a surprising lack of racism. Now I am not saying it’s not there at all, there are hints of it, it is just now as apparent as the last two films. But the human roles in this film are far more interesting than they have been in the last two. Again, this is thanks in part to the reinvigorated cast.
Walhberg overplays the overprotective father. Kelesy Grammer and Titus Welliver both play nefarious government agents hunting down transformers. But it is Stanley Tucci who completely hams it up as the inventor – think of a Michael Bay version Steve Jobs – of using the transformers’ biology to create new tech. You can’t help but laugh every time you see Tucci speak in this film, because he just owns the character. In fact, the film would be that much more enjoyable if it had more of him or if it was just all about his character.
And any other human character you see whether its Jack Reynor, Li Bingbing, Sophia Miles, or Melanie Specht, have no significance or purpose in the film other than just too make the film more human. Although T.J. Miller does provide some of the nicer comedic moments, even though it is a product of Michael Bay humor.
You can actually even tell some of the Transformers apart from each other. Though they still don’t resemble anything fans will remember from watching the classic 1987 animated incarnation. Although some of the newer Transformers don’t make any real sense as to how they move the plot forward, namely Galvatron. But let’s fact it, this is a Michael Bay film, is there any real need for logic?
Still the visuals are top notch, even though they can be a bit dizzying at times. But watching Autobots and the baddies go at it with each other is really the kind of popcorn blockbuster film you want. Watching the transformers well transform whether it is traditionally or their new way is really fun, and something you probably would want to see more of if you love CGI in heavy doses. And if you are going to market the Dinobots as the headlining new transformers, then you better have a lot of dinosaur action, and unfortunately that won’t come until the latter part of the film. But when they do come in, they make sure they are heard and they leave their mark.
But the film is not without it’s shortcomings. Though it is the most coherent of the four films, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. This again, is because it is a Michael Bay film. Age of Extinction was written by Ehren Kruger, his third script he has contributed to the franchise. So of course it won’t make sense, and of course it is going to be very long. Despite that, it does have a better pacing than the last two. We aren’t sporadically jumping around as much as we have been as the last two as well, and that makes for a better watch because we won’t have to worry about who was doing what.
Then of course you have all the marketing plugs that were smashed, squished, forced, and hammered in this film. And if you don’t see a billboard drive by or blown up, one of the characters will have to tell you about whatever Age of Extinction is being sponsored by. Hopefully by the next one Transformers can figure out a innovative way to deliver another marketing plug.
But the film’s biggest flaw has to come down to the run time. Clocking in at a lengthy 165 minutes, Transformers: Age of Extinction will test your cinematic endurance. Just how long can you endure sitting down watching explosion after explosion, marketing plug and aftering plug, and T and A, without feeling some sort of pain in your joints will be up to you. Just be sure to either pee before the film or use the runpee app on your smart phhone.
For better or for worse Transformers: Age Of Extinction is still obnoxiously loud and disjointed mess. So you get what you pay for, and with Transformers: Age Of Extinction, you get the best kind of chaos money can buy.