Many say that 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon was the worst of the Transformer movies. It made a boatload of money though, so Michael Bay has returned with another one. As the tagline says, in Transformers: Age Of Extinction: “The rules have changed”. Changes are everywhere, from the main human actors, to the introduction of Dinobots, to even the Transformer voices. What we still get is Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and many other Transformers in what promises to be an action extravaganza. Has Bay found a way to improve on the series? Hit the jump to see what I thought.
First, I thought it might be fitting to review this movie as my 12 year old self:
“Mark Wahlberg, cool! Hot girl. Explosion!! Hot Girl’s ass. Explosions! Nooo! Government bad guys! Explosion! Dinobots! Explosion!! What’s Victoria’s Secret? Explosions!! Boat getting sucked up! (5 Stars!)”
Back in the me of today, this movie is a series of contradictions wrapped inside a layer of warm, gooey nonsense. I thought the movie I was watching might need a couple viewings to absorb how truly bad it was. In fact, half way through this mess, I thought it might become unreviewably bad. Wait, is that even a word? It’s ok, because Transformers: Age of Extinction makes shit up as it goes too. This movie is about two and a half hours long, but it easily felt like three 90 minute movies strung together. I wondered if it would ever end.
The super-thin plot probably requires some explanation, especially since the many long points of expository dialog in the movie are so boring. The essence is that the attack on Chicago (from Dark of the Moon) caused the humans to start hunting good and bad Transformers. They’re aided by a robot named Lockdown. He’s particularly interested in Optimus Prime (for paper-thin reasons). Enter Cade (Mark Wahlberg) an unconvincing Texan who finds a messed up truck and soon learns it’s more than he bargained for.
There’s an idea mentioned by the movie’s title; namely, extinction. The movie’s plot relates to a bad guy wanting a seed that may, or may not, level a city. As one character put it (in a text message), the seed is like a “Tactical Nuke, LOL”. The very notion of a weapon being “tactical” is to make the weapon smaller and limit it’s yield. So, you have a “seed” that could level a city, but it might be smaller than a large scale nuclear weapon. If you have a weapon like this, it would not make anything extinct, much less create an “age” or perhaps even an “epoch” of that stuff. Someone spent $165 Million on this golden turd.
Did I mention Optimus Prime shoots and kills a guy thinly veiled as saving the hero? Oh yea, no bones about it. Sure the guy is evil Kelsey Grammer (not to be confused with good Kelsey Grammer), so he really had it coming. but, is that in tune with what Optimus Prime represented for the first three Transformer movies? Not at all, but this is a pissed off Prime, so maybe we should let the people killin’ slide.
Thankfully, the poor taste comic relief is gone and replaced by a father constantly nagging his 17 year old daughter (Nicola Peltz) about dating. And, then the father has to kill robots and save the world with the man she’s dating. How is this not hilarious? I’ll bet this was a slam dunk as Michael Bay was pitched the idea by writer Ehren Kruger. Even better, we get a straight version of Stanley Tucci‘s The Devil Wears Prada character, and the guy from Silicon Valley on loan (without the crazy facial hair) who drives a Mini with a surfboard on it. In Texas. Nowhere near the ocean. Funny, right brah?
Oh yes, there’s the name of the black ops team that kills Autobots (in the name of hunting Decepticons). They’re called Cemetery Wind. Are you shitting me? Is there a version of this film somewhere called “Turdsformers: Age Of Constipation”? Should we call these guys “Brown Ops”?
Many were enthusiastic about the introduction of Dinobots (as seen in the trailers), but this is surely a disappointment. The Dinos are freed from Lockdown’s easily infiltrated, hacked, and destroyed vacuum cleaner. The trouble is, they don’t talk, have no personality, and kind of do what you tell them. Seriously, the fight they mount against Prime is akin to taking one punch. Three or four Dinobots watch while that brief fight goes down, and then they all mindlessly follow Prime.
Deserving a mention is the action. If you’re watching a Transformers movie, it’s probably to see the awesome action. As far as special effects go, the action you see on screen is incredible. There are cases where the scale goes from very far away, down to a more personal level. If Bay excels at anything, it’s making these fighting robots feel very real. Following some of the action is another problem entirely. Often, so many things are going on in front of you, that it’s hard to decipher who’s doing what. Even worse, characters do things that make little or no sense. In an earlier hunt for a Transformer, Lockdown looks like he’s underwater close to the action and has a scope that seems to see the hidden Transformer’s heat signature. When we get to hunting the hidden Optimus Prime, not only does lockdown stay too far from the barn, everyone is stumped and his fancy scope is nowhere to be seen. Naturally, this allows the Government bad guys the chance to build tension.
And, Megatron, now called Galvatron, is alive and has been reborn as something much less Agent Smith-y. Since this is supposed to be starting a new trilogy, I have some other ideas about how Megatron might be reborn. In the next sequel, we see him strung together as a series of patio lanterns. On October 31st, the lanterns are hit with just enough juice to bring him back as Jack-O-Tron. Or, we could go a different way: In the next edition, we see Galvatron attempting to assemble a new army of Decepticons – but he’s not operating as well as he’d like. His functions keep failing, and that big engine in his chest keeps firing, knocking him over. Because of all these glitches, he decides to be reborn as Betatron: defender of buggy robots everywhere.
Then there is Prime’s obligatory (and uplifting) speech at the end of this tripe. I was a little worried I might forget it, and I wanted to share with you how horribly nonsensical it was. Well, thankfully, I can remember it word for word. Here it is in its entirety: “Grouugh brruf verr fee wreddf borrff guvv err git“. Inspiring stuff, don’t you think?
Transformers: Age Of Extinction Opens today, Friday June 27th, 2014. The movie stars Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, and Kelsey Grammer.