TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION Movie Review
Transformers: Age Of Extinction is the fourth entry in film director Michael Bay’s franchise that set the geek world on fire back in 2007, bringing to life the childhood toy icons in huge, grandiose fashion. To say Bay’s Transformers journey has been rough would be putting it nicely: the first film, Transformers, was a decent, solid, and fun outing, but the sequel Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen was a complete mess (due in large part to the Hollywood writers strike), and the third entry entitled Transformers: Dark Of The Moon actually saw the Bay franchise returned to some of its former, albeit over-indulgent, glory. But now, with the fourth film unleashed on the masses in an effort to launch a new Bay / Transformers film trilogy, even the most optimistic of critics and fans alike are wary of what Michael Bay has in store with Age Of Extinction.
But critics and fans alike can rest easy. Transformers: Age Of Extinction is a fun movie, especially when there are Transformers on-screen.
It’s a fun film, but it’s not a great film. But then again, these Michael Bay Transformer films aren’t Oscar showcases for storytelling, nor were they ever intended to be from day one. Instead, Michael Bay makes extravagant, lavish, and at times beautiful, “special effects presentations” that overload the senses and awe us into submission.
And I’m OK with that. You should be, too.
The three previous Bay Transformer films have also attempted to engage us in the human element, and it is safe to say that as fans we will always care more about Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky than we ever will about our new trilogy human, Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager. Bay’s inclusion of the human element in these films is beside the point, and honestly should be left to only minor inclusion in future films. But alas I am afraid we are destined for more Bay Transformer films with blatant racist quips (white people jokes, black people jokes, and now Irish heritage jokes!) and more terrible family dialogue for years to come.
But I digress. Transformers: Age Of Extinction is a feast for the eyes and ears, and it takes a huge step forward in the overall tale of the ongoing conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons, and the history they share from their days on Cybertron.
SPOILERS LIE AHEAD
Several years have passed since the events of Dark Of The Moon, and the remaining Transformers are being hunted down by humans for elimination from planet Earth. The CIA has a task force, led by Kelsey Grammer, that is working alongside a Cybertronian bounty hunter named Lockdown to eliminate ALL Transformers. Lockdown is a refreshing and menacing addition to the Transformers film roster, and each time he is on screen, he steals the scene. He is also extremely ruthless, with a quick case in point: he’s stripping apart the beloved Autobot Ratchet in the opening minutes of the film without prejudice.
And there has been more human technological advances since the disaster in Chicago, due in every part to the discovery of the material that makes up Transformers, aptly called Transformium (no really, that’s what they call it). And I will just stop right there – humans are now making their own Transformers…and that’s just ridiculous.
With Optimus Prime in hiding, and Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager randomly finding him in self-imposed isolation and exile, the government soon comes knocking to retrieve him, and off we go on our adventure. What follows on the people side is another 2+ hours of bad family jokes and a human element that ultimately doesn’t need to be a part of this film after the wheels are set into motion (see what I did there?).
And that brings us back to what works with the Transformers: Age Of Extinction film: the Transformer story itself. Aside from more new, random Autobots filling out the now-depleted roster under Prime’s command (“calling all Autobots,” yadda yadda, I know), the story of the film that involves all the Transformers is all actually very well done, and it sets into motion plans for the next film.
Lockdown has been sent to Earth to retrieve Optimus Prime and return him to the Transformer creators. Who are they? Where are they? You mean someone “made” these beings? This is a very intriguing development indeed for us as fans.
Oh, and a shadowy corporation has retrieved Megatron’s head from Chicago, and they are working on replicating a better version of the Decepticon leader who they will ultimately control and call Galvatron (see the animated Transformers film from your childhood for more on Galvatron!). There’s also something about a “seed” from Cybertron that when detonated will terra-form part of Earth and produce more Transformium, and the humans are trying to get it from Lockdown in exchange for giving him Prime’s location. But all the human fuss over that proves absolutely pointless by the film’s end.
With Lockdown seeking out Prime, and Galvatron escaping and then becoming self-aware and then activating the human-produced Transformers and placing them under his command, Age Of Extinction really takes off. Bay-hem ensues, things are destroyed, cities get demolished, stuff gets blown apart, and ultimately Optimus and his rag-tag team of never say die Autobots are outnumbered and outgunned by this human-made but Galvatron-led army of new Transformers, all the while they were also tasked with saving the Mark Wahlberg family along the way time and again. And Prime finally decides they need help: enter The Dinobots.
While not nearly as cool in this film as we remember them to be, these Dinobots have been on Earth for millions of years, back when Prime’s ancestors came to terra-form our planet (yes, Transformers caused the extinction of dinosaurs, not a meteor you silly kids!). So Optimus calls the Dinobots out of their slumber and into action, and they commence in annihilating just about everything in the final few scenes of the film. While their time onscreen was way too limited for most fans, it was really cool to have them make an appearance, even though we heard nary a “Me, Grimlock” along the way.
By the film’s end, viewers are exhausted, and so are the surviving Autobots. With the Dinobots set free, and Galvatron on the run, Optimus Prime commands the surviving Autobots to protect the humans, as he leaves the planet, BY FLYING AWAY INTO OUTER SPACE (when did this ability come to pass?), and goes in search of his creators, hoping to keep them from coming to Earth.
Transformers: Age Of Extinction was a good film, but too long a film; it was also a very fun film with just too much other non-Transformer stuff going on. At this stage, I suppose we as fans, now that we are on the fourth entry of this Michael Bay series, should be used to all the other silliness and garbage that gets added to these films. From Sam’s mom getting high on pot brownies, small dogs humping other small dogs, and racist twin transforming cars, is it really any surprise that Age Of Extinction follows those same lines? I suppose the human element is necessary, in some sort of failed attempt to get us to care about what happens to them in the end, but when the ride along the way is this much fun, should we really even be upset with all the nonsense? Hopefully, Bay and his writers will get back to the nuts and bolts (see what I did there, too?) of what makes this conflict so intense: Optimus Prime versus Megatron, with Prime always there to stop Megatron when the time comes. Their conflict is at the heart of this entire franchise since the very beginning, long before these films and CGI-heavy new cartoons. But Michael Bay and company have done a great job of planting the seeds for a new trilogy, one that looks to take the setting into a more sci-fi direction, and I can’t wait to see what Optimus has been up to by the time we catch up with him again, with Megatron/Galvatron not far behind.
Fans, how did you feel about Transformers: Age Of Extinction? Sound off in our COMMENTS section.