They say that if you love something, set it free. This is my advice for Michael Bay and his unhealthy attachment to the Transformers franchise. The hour has long since passed since he should have walked away from his toy-to-big screen baby. If he really cares for the future of the franchise, he should hand over the reins to a capable director and somehow audiences might see the eventual redemption of the series.
I’m not bitter that they chose not to screen Transformers 4 for local critics. I’ve recently paid for dozens of movies and been able to enjoy a fair share of them. I went into this movie attempting to have a clean slate. It’s apparently meant to be a reboot and revitalization of the series. Even though it clearly follows the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, it’s meant to kickstart a brand new story and mythology.
My following animosity does not come from the fact that I paid for this movie, it comes from the quality of the movie itself.
The movie begins 65 million years ago. It was the time when dinosaurs ruled the earth. But, wait a second, some giant robot ships start dropping metal bombs over the landscape. Every creature is immediately solidified in metal. This opening of Age of Extinction truly settled the long debate of what killed the dinosaurs. It was Michael Bay.
We pick up in the present day where it’s been five years since the destruction in Chicago. Both autobots and decepticons have gone into hiding because the Black Ops military branch has been hunting and destroying them with the help of a new big bad, Lockdown. Meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg raises his 17 year old daughter, Tessa, at a ranch in Texas. He, conveniently enough is an inventor. While surveying an abandoned theater, he finds a broken down semi truck (Not out of place at all). He brings it back to his barn and quickly finds that he is in possession of a damaged Optimus Prime. The CIA shows up, tries to find Optimus and kill Wahlberg and his daughter, explosions happen and they get away.
From there, Optimus regroups with the surviving Autobots and they attempt to find out why Lockdown wants to capture Optimus so badly (P.S. It’s never explained). The group, now joined by Tessa’s boyfriend, travels to Chicago to commit corporate espionage by breaking into the corporation that is beginning to manufacture their own Transformers using space metal they call “Transformium.” I’m not kidding.
This company, run by Stanley Tucci, has accidentally created the upgraded form for Megatron, now called Galvatron. Their creations soon get out of their control. This leaves Optimus, Marky Mark and the gang to deal with unruly decepticons, transformer bounty hunters and the CIA. How could this movie be terrible, right?
My experience is best described by the following scene. Early on, the lead CIA operative (Titus Welliver) is commanding his men to search Wahlberg’s ranch for Optimus. Wahlberg confronts him by saying the following:
Wahlberg: “You can’t do that…you don’t have a warrant!”
Welliver: “My face is my warrant!”
I know that Wahlberg is a draw for many people. He adds nothing to the experience. Do you remember in The Happening, when Wahlberg played a smart science teacher. That was crazy right? In Transformers 4, he plays an inventor. In a world where robots transform into cars and dinosaurs, his untapped brilliance is the most implausible thing.
There is no particular Megan Fox-type romantic co-lead that Michael Bay indulgently shows in slow-motion. Instead, he focuses on Wahlberg’s 17 year old daughter who has the acting range of Tara Reid. She and Wahlberg keep arguing because he’s too strict and won’t let her date until she gets out of high school. Even when the CIA is trying to kill you and you are in constant danger of being crushed by evil robots, there’s still time for her to be a sassy, rebellious teenage daughter. When her boyfriend enters the picture, he and Wahlberg butt heads the rest of the movie, each claiming that they are the real hero. The boyfriend is apparently a sponsored racer. He states that he is so legit, that he just signed a deal with Red Bull. After he said that, I swear he winked at the camera to the sound effect of a cash register.
These three characters are so one-dimensional and basically useless to the overall plot that they didn’t need to be in the movie at all. Their existence in the Transformers universe is making me say something that I never thought I would…
I miss Shia LeBeouf.
This movie was terrible and would have been improved by the presence of Sam Witwicky. I think the sequel should go as follows: “Transformers 5: Saving Sam” should be from Bumblebee’s perspective. It’s been a few years since he was sent away by his former owner Sam. He knew that Sam was getting into some legal trouble and dabbling with hard drugs. Sam currently trolls the streets of Los Angeles wearing a bag on his head while drinking from a bottle in a bag. Optimus transforms into a rehab center and Bumblebee kidnaps Sam and brings him to Optimus. Of course Sam is upset about the surprise intervention, but he knows his old friends are looking out for his best interests. Tears will be shed as Sam gets loving advice from the surprisingly normal Megan Fox, Bumblebee, Alan Twitty from Even Stevens and the monkeys from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Tangent over. Back to the review.
Stanley Tucci is getting a lot of credit for saving the movie. In truth, he doesn’t do anything special. It’s just that his acting showcases how bad Wahlberg and the other actors are. Kelsey Grammer conveniently shows up for every major scene as the villainous government representative bent on the destruction of the Autobots. He has better timing for being in critical scenes, than the army kid in Godzilla.
Let’s move to the best part of Transformers: Age of Extinction – The dinobots. They show up for the last 15 minutes of the movie. That’s it. They’re cool for nostalgia sake, but their late addition seems little more than a merchandising ploy. This movie has so many “final battles” that you’ll get worn out and just want the movie to end. Just know, that once the dinobots show up, the movie is thankfully almost over.
Age of Extinction is meant to reboot the series. We are for sure getting at least two more Transformers movies to complete this new trilogy. However, it just feels like one more unnecessary sequel. If they wanted to truly reboot it, they would have given the reins to a different director. Please stop this, Mr. Bay.
This movie is the 3rd best of the series, or 2nd worst, depending on how you look at it.
Transformers>Dark of the Moon>Age of Extinction>Revenge of the Fallen.
There is no reason to see this movie. You’ve seen cities destroyed by far better blockbusters. In short, this movie is dull. No amount of action or Michael Bay solar-flare-sweeping shots cover that up. This will still make a ton of money, but I’m assuming that 30% of the audience is only watching it for ironic purposes. Skip Age of Extinction.