Transformers: Age of Extinction movie review
Yes, it is once again time for another Bay-tastic Transformers movie. Back in 2007, Hasbro and Paramount released a big screen adaptation of the famous Transformers franchise. The movie was very entertaining, complete with giant robots beating up other giant robots, and for some, Megan Fox's looks. However, the story wasn't the best, and the acting was just ok. It was a huge success though, and led to 2 other sequels: Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon. Both were also massive successes and had more great action, but the stories became more complicated and filled with plot holes you could fly a plane through, and incredibly silly acting from the human cast. Why were these such successes though?
I think the Transformers movies are guilty pleasures. People dislike them, and I understand that, but for a ton of people, the Transformers films are just fun. For fans of the franchise, we know what to expect. The stories are flawed, but they are just an excuse to get from glorious Transformers fight to next Transformers fight. And to fans of the Transformers franchise, these movies garner different opinions. Because for every Transformer they represented accurately and in awesome fashion, there was another that was even shorted on screen time or reimagined poorly. The view I have is this: The Transformers have been re-imagined and redone so many times, why be SO hard on these movies? Yes, Shockwave as an assassin instead of a deadly scientist was a bad choice. Making Devastator an animalistic vacuum instead of a towering warrior was a bad decision, except the effects were really cool. But a lot of the designs are very well done, and overall, I think the Transformers themselves are pretty well done.
Now the parts people mostly complain about, are the stories and the human casts. Now, I adore these films. I love watching them and they are a whole lot of fun to watch. But yea, even I'll agree, the stories, have a lot of continuity errors and plot holes. However, by now, it's become common knowledge that these movies will just have these features. The movies are meant to be big-budget action romps that will make you hoot and holler, then laugh at the story later, and also wonder why we need humans in it at all.
Well, where does that leave our latest iteration, Age of Extinction? Well, while some things have changed, some things have not.
It's several years after the events of Dark of the Moon. After the destruction of Chicago from the Decepticons attack, humanity has turned its back on Transformers as a whole. A faction of the C.I.A. under the order of Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), is hunting down every remaining Transformer. It turns out though, he is able to do this due to a partnership with a Cybertronian assassin named Lockdown. Lockdown has no affiliation to either side of the Transformers war, and has come to Earth looking for Optimus Prime. Lockdown has agreed to help Attinger kill every Transformer they find, until they find Optimus, where Lockdown will claim him for himself. Meanwhile, a company run by Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), is making their very own Transformers, based on the material that make the Transformers, that they have acquired through...mysterious sources. Meanwhile, we meet our human hero, Cade Yeager (Mark Whalberg.) Cade is an inventor who just hasn't caught a big break yet, and is trying to support his teenage daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz.) On one of his scavenging quests, he finds an old beat up truck hidden away. So, Cade brings it to his barn and wouldn't you know, it's Optimus Prime! He was damaged in a hunt and has been off ever since, and thanks to Cade's repairs, he has been brought back to life once again. This of course garner the attention of Attinger's forces, and soon, Cade, Tessa and Tessa's stunt driving boyfriend, Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor) are fugitives alongside Optimus. Optimus gathers what is left of the Autobots: Bumblebee, Drift (a new samurai Autobot), Crosshairs (a sassy sharpshooter) and Hound (a grizzled war veteran Autobot voiced by John Goodman.) Together, they need to find out the mysteries behind Attinger's attacks, Joyce's methods of creating new Transformers and what sinister force is behind it, and most importantly, why Lockdown is seeking out Optimus and who has sent him here.
Now while that does sound like a lot, it isn't even close to how much story the movie juggles. Even at almost 3 hours of run time, not every story element has enough time to breathe, and the ones you want to see are not given the attention they deserve, mainly, the Dinobots. They are so rushed into the plot, and their back story is so rushed, it's like Michael Bay was sent the request to put them in the movie when it was 75% done already. Not to mention the return of a certain evil, his motivations and how the heck he pulled all of this off, which was, again, rushed. It's so weird saying rushed in a movie that is almost 3 hours, but too much was crammed in for anything to make complete sense. Like I've said, this is a trend for these movies, but when we have to sit through a ton of screen merely establishing Cade and his family's life, and not even seeing Optimus until over a half hour in, you have to wonder if the story could've been spaced differently. So yes, the story is pretty poorly written, but their are sparks (no pun intended) of good ideas here, but never given proper time to breathe.
The human acting has substantially improved in AoE. Whalberg as the leading man makes for a much more believable and charismatic hero than Shia. Plus, it's Whalberg, it's hard not to like him, he gives a pretty good performance. Peltz and Reynor are ok, but are nothing special, but I'd rather have that than them be annoying, so it's ok. Grammer delivers a surprisingly decent bad guy performance here. I mean sure, Grammer has done much better and is an incredible actor, but for a Transformers movie, he delivers. Tucci also turns in a great performance, but again, Tucci is also a great actor, so that helps. Having these 2 on board really beef up the human cast.
Unfortunately though, the same argument comes up that has been present since the first film, why do we need a human cast? Now the Hollywood answers include: budget, having actual actor face to pull people in and so on. However, it's usually the human characters that bog these movies down. They take away from the Transformers awesomeness, and usually deliver most of the failed comedy. Now yea, the Transformers have had their bad comedy moments in the films, but it's definitely more of the humans to blame. I'm not gonna lie, while the human cast is better in AoE, the argument is still valid. We pay to see a Transformers movie, to see the Transformers kick metal butt and transform into cool forms. There is a good amount of it here, it's not like it's Godzilla or anything, but there are more human scenes, and that's not what we want to see. Maybe one day we will get a Transformers movie with JUST the Transformers, but we can dream. Plus, Michael Bay can afford it.
Now, the Transformers themselves, are awesome. Optimus Prime is a bit darker here, but he has reason to. His people are being killed by the people they swore to protect, and Optimus feels rightfully enraged. His new look is awesome, and he kicks butt, but can he win a fight on his own? He has several fights in this movie, but in order for him to win, he needs help. Whether it be Cade, Bumblebee or Grimlock, Optimus always needed an assist, and he is their leader. Bumblebee is still sassy and awesome, but he is definitely sassier and more child-like here. Not to a negative degree, it's just noticeable, but I approve of his new look. New Autobots Drift, Crosshairs and Hound get a decent amount of screen time, and are great new additions, especially Hound. He is awesome and funny, and is a great addition I wish were with the franchise previously.
On the bad guy side, the Transformers Joyce creates (which I won't spoil here) look awesome. I love the effects when they transform, and they really feel like a new threat. Lockdown is downright awesome. By himself, he is incredibly intimidating and tough, and what he brings to these movies' mythos is quite interesting, and I'm very interested with where it is going to go. His moves are impressive, and his reputation carries a lot of weight in the movie, which makes him that much more of a threat. His ship and army also look cool.
Then you have the Dinobots. Put aside how rushed into the story they are, and how they are never referred to by name or Dinobot (which is REALLY disappointing), they look friggin incredible and are some of coolest things you'll see in theatres this year. Seeing Optimus riding into battle on Grimlock, slaying Decepticons left and right is quite a sight to see, and is the perfect example of what we wanted to see. I hope we get more of the Dinobots through these films, because they deserve a lot more depth and screen time.
And as you'd expect, the effects are just as mind-blowingly satisfying as the previous films. The action is intense and plentiful, and a benefit is you can actually tell who is fighting who. In the previous films, if you had not memorized which Transformers were who (like me), some viewers were confused as to who was who, kind of like the Harry Potter movies. But this time, due to color tones and FRIGGIN AWESOME DINOSAURS, it is much easier to distinguish who is kicking whose butt, and that helps these action scenes be awesome, even when Whalberg is kicking butt.
Overall, how is Transformers: Age of Extinction? As far as the Transformers franchise is concerned, it is probably the best one since the first film. While the plot is still a mess, the acting and action make it a better experience than the last 2. For people that hate these films and downright see nothing good out of them, this film is not for you. However, if you just want a fun film with big robots fighting each other and Mark Whalberg being awesome, this is definitely worth a watch. I think the whole Transformers movie franchise is worth a watch, just for fun films. Because while these movies are not as solid as others, they are a ton of fun, and I absolutely adore them as a guilty pleasure. I've watched the first 3 many times, and Transformers: Age of Extinction will be no exception.
I give Transformers: Age of Extinction, 3 Optimus speeches out of 5
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