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Review of Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Directed By: Michael Bay

Written By: Ehren Kruger

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci

 

Although the Transformers live-action movies have been a financial phenomenon, they have been critically lambasted and shunned by many of the franchise’s hardcore fans. Transformers: Age of Extinction  is somewhat of a new start as it has new faces and new characters—but the same old director in Michael Bay. Clearly the aspiration to improve was not very strong, because Age of Extinction  not only repeats past mistakes it expands upon them and adds a few more just for kicks.

It is not surprising a Transformers movie would have a narrative so riddled with pot-holes it creates a time vortex you could easily get lost in, or be filled with such soul-crushing dialogue it makes you pity the English language. What is surprising is how12747-thumb-610x330 dull the spectacle is this time around. Perhaps it is a common case of diminishing returns, but the ‘turn you brain off’ excitement is practically absent.

That story involves a Government agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) who feels the planet will never truly be safe until the world is free of Transformers. With the help of his CIA Black-Ops military group and secret alien asset he has be riding the world of all Transformers including the heroic Autobots. Optimus Prime and the few remaining Autobots will have to rely on some unlikely human allies to overcome their ever mounting foes.

Unlike the past three films that human ally is not Sam Witwicky. Many have complained about Shia LaBeouf in the past films, but the truth is his presence was sorely missed. The personality and more importantly the levity he brought worked as a counter balance to the over seriousness of everything else taking place. There was a connection between his characters and the gigantic robots that surrounded him.  All those elements were gigantic successes compared to what we got with this installment.

In this installment Mark Wahlberg stars as Cade Yeager a struggling mechanic and single father of a teenage girl. In an attempt to earn extra cash he purchases a beat-up truck in hopes of salvaging it for parts. That beat up truck is not a truck at all, but the Autobot leader Optimus Prime.  Quickly Cade finds himself and his family in the middle of a war they were not prepared to enter.  Still, he will do what he must to keep his love ones safe.

This summer has been full of blockbusters that have struggled juggling human drama with gigantic over-the-top spectacle. All the issues with movies like Godzilla  are nothing compared to this awfulness. Mark Wahlberg as an over bearing father was a painful miscast. Trying to make him a would be scientist was a mind boggling choice. You can have him say the words, “I’m an inventor”, all you want it (As this script does) it does not make it any more believable. His performance just added to the ultra-seriousness that made this such a chore to get through.

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The actors that surround him include his daughter played by Nicola Peltz, who is not much more than a glorified Megan Fox stand-in. She added little except for some occasional screams. Her race car driving boyfriend was a larger dud. Apparently Jack Reynor went to the Sam Worthington School of charismaless acting. The only person who provided any life was T.J. Miller as Cade’s colorful best friend, but he was not in it long enough to have much of an impact. However, with this material it’s hard to put much blame on the shoulders of the actors. Even the finest thespians could not make the horrid dialogue not sound laughable.

As has been the case with this franchise the Transformers are almost background characters. These supreme beings from another world have devolved into emotionally stilted revenge machines who lack the keen ability of critical thinking. Once you have a samurai robot voiced by Ken Watanabe it is evident ideas are running thin. Special Effects wise they look as good as ever. Michael Bay certainly knows how to put the big budget on the screen. You just never get the sense these characters are in fact more than meets the eye.

Those issues, while worse than before, are not all that surprising. The hope is that in exchange for storytelling that feels like it was lifted from two four year olds playing pretend you get finely crafted action set pieces that are awe-inspiring to witness.  There are moments where it feels like that is going to happen. A high wire walk above the Chicago Skyline has great potential but it does not lead to much. All this action feels tired, recycled, and derivative of everything that came before. All this robot carnage is mind-numbingly boring to witness. Once the Dinobots show up things do pick up slightly. The energy that was previously absent begins to take shape. Nevertheless, by the time that happens it is nearly impossible to not already be checked out. Halfway through most Transformers_Age_of_Extinction_42240will be praying for it to end, which is simply refuses to do.

For a film to be this poorly constructed it requires a strong level of laziness and lack of desire to create anything of merit. At times it is a huge rush to get absolutely nowhere. Editing is so frenetic it’s difficult to ever get your bearings to what is actually happening. Sure there are moments that look fantastic. Michael Bay knows how to set a scene and use a camera. If this was a car commercial, and let’s be honest much of it is, you could appreciate some of its craftsmanship. Unfortunately it is designed to be a movie—at least I think it is.

Transformers: Age of Extinction  is a twenty minutes of story with a hundred and sixty-five minute runtime. When people complain about the commercial waste that is put out by major studios it is films like this that are the problem. Why the term blockbuster has such a bad reputation. This is more than a bad movie. This is an embarrassment. An embarrassment that will probably make a billion dollars.

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Dan Clark

A fan of all things comics, movies, books, and whatever else I can find that pass the time. Twitter: @DXO_Dan Instagram: Comic_concierge

34 Comments

  1. I agree that the movie is pretty darn bad….worst installment in the franchise though?? At first watch I would put this and #3 as the best two of the franchise but perhaps I need to re-watch them all….hahaha sorry I can’t even type that out without literally laughing lol

    1. I think this order thus far til tonight anyhow lol.

      1986 TFTM
      Transformers (2007)
      Transformers DOTM (2012)
      Transformers AOE (2014)
      Transformers ROTF (2009)

      1. I would rank them.

        Transformers (2007)
        Transformers DOTM
        Transformers (1986)
        Transformers ROTF
        Transformers AOE

        1. you put ROTF above AOE (while your personal choice) THAT’S NUITS!!! ROTF had nothing but dick and fart jokes half the time… it was like michael bay wanted to make a shitty kevin smith film! I bet if kevin smith had made ROTF it’d have been TEN times better than what we got.

          1. They are all awful movies. Its just levels of awfulness. AOE had the same bad humor, they had a robot designed to look like a Japanese Samaria. I give a slight edge to ROTF cause there are certain action sequences that I can at least point to that are interesting. AOE didn’t have any.

          2. AOE had no action sequences that were awesome really? We must not have been watching the same film.

            Your opinion is yours, but saying TFTM (1986) is as awful as the live action ones in my opinion is just wrong LOL

          3. Yea if we are including 1986 then it automatically takes the first slot!!

          4. As someone who never really watched the cartoon that movie doesn’t really hold up for me. Its much better than GI Joe the movie but I don’t have the appreciation for it that many people do.

          5. Outside of people who were traumatized by Optimus Prime’s death to me that movie was exactly what EVERY fan of the tv series wanted in the tv series and never got and exactly what they were hoping for in a movie. That’s what separates it from all the Bay films. Regardless of how it holds up or if it actually does or doesn’t, the film gave the fans exactly what they wanted. That’s the biggest flaw in the Bay films regardless of how much money they make

          6. Yeah, the film felt alot like Star Wars for me. :)
            Don’t get me started on the soundtrack either.

          7. what soundtrack there were barely any songs in the film outside of Jablonski’s score. I think I heard 2 maybe 3 licensed artists. LOL

          8. Well, I meant the soundtrack included, perhaps it isn’t in the films credit, but I don’t care, its still awesome they included it.

          9. you can’t just say ‘Star Wars’ you have to be more specific than that. What part of Star Wars? And in what way?

          10. Gee, I don’t know, Optimus being sort of like Ben, Rodimus having to rise up, gather a new team and stop an evil leader after a generation of great heroes were eradicated by him and his forces. Ohh, and Unicron kinda being like the Death Star. I mean I figured that seemed obvious.

          11. ‘gee i dont know’ ….’i figured that seemed obvious’ – Is that really the way you conduct yourself in an intelligent conversation? Not to mention those comparisons are anything but obvious and actually quite a stretch if you ask me.

          12. I’m sorry if I came off rude, that’s not how I was trying to approach myself. I liked the movie, if that’s what you want to know.

          13. I see more similarities between a new hope and the secret of the sword ala he-man and she-ra than I do with star wars a new hope and TFTM. But that’s just me…. thoughts @optimussolo:disqus ?

          14. Well, I’m not too big on He-Man nor She-Ra, so I can’t make that comparison. I just made one on the immediate thing I could think of. And that was Starwars.

          15. no prob, but I’m saying that he-,an and she-ra are twins who one was stolen at birth… that mirrors luke and leia a lot LOL

          16. What action sequences would you point to as awesome? Honestly I can’t really point to one? They all felt like highlight reels from the past movies. Nothing about the action was new or different. DOTM had the amazing sky-jumper sequence, I was hoping for something on that level but nothing really came close.

      2. 1 – Transformers The Movie
        2 – Transformers AOE
        3 – Transformers
        4 – Transformers DOTM
        5 – Transformers ROTF

  2. I am not a fan of Bay, I never will be. I will admit a few of his movies are guilty pleasures. However at the 45 minute mark I am worn out. Let me get out my check list real quick. Intense music check, women who are over sexualized check, stereotypical African Americans check, slow motion after slow motion scenes check, big over the top loud explosions check. I could go on and on. I only own the first three because it does have humans and voice over artists that have…voiced robots…Mike Nelson, Bill Corbet, and Kevin Murphy from MST3K fame. Granted you have to pay extra for the trilogy commentary but you get your moneys worth. Onto the movie, pros Marky Mark is a nice upgrade. He’s fun to watch at times, Hud from Cloverfield was in it. No mammy – esque Autobots or Decptions like Revenge of the Fallen. Trailing off…I saw that at a drive in no less, and after 20 mins there was road rage…people were trying to drive away and there was a fight who could exit first/fast enough…..LOL Cons…not enough Galavatron….Stanley Tucci…well if you cut John Turruturo in half you’d get Tucci and Side Show Bob…I mean Dr. Fraiser Crane. Bay still doesn’t know humor…or how to direct/write it. Yet I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t looking at my phone. I liked what they did with Hound. Drift was a waste…Bumblebee needed to be placed on the scrap heap….I gave it a 3.5 out of five…I shaved off points for killing off Hud…Keeping Lucky Charms…with his Irish accent coming and going….The Dinobots looking like if a Transformer having a diarrhea dream….However Lockdown was in it, and i’m crossing my fingers that the “Creators,” are The Quientisons….but in Bay-Formers….Not bloody likely.

  3. OK Dan….. I have a few quotes and then my replies from this:

    ” Many have complained about Shia LaBeouf in the past films, but the truth is his presence was sorely missed.”

    HELL NO he wasn’t missed that’s what this franchise needed an ADULT to be on the Autbots side not some lame full of himself kid!

    “Mark Wahlberg as an over bearing father was a painful miscast. ”

    HAVE YOU SEEN the first THREE Films? While I like Kevin Dunn as an actor he played the exact same role, but wayyy worse than Wahlberg. At least there wasn’t a mom in this like the other ones as far as being such a dumb and unwatchable character.

    I’m not saying that TF4 isn’t bad, but it’s not as bad as you make it out to be, when it comes to the humans this time around.

    1. I agree that wahlberg is a tough sell as the inventor or scientist role….don’t have a big issue with him being the tough love father though. But I for once have to agree with Mike on something….Shia was in no way sorely missed in any way

      1. At least he can add levity and has a personality. Walhberg was flat in every way possible. Shia isn’t great by any means but what he brought was far superior to any of these characters. And to even call them characters is questionable.

        1. shIa ADDED NOTHING, BUT SCREAMS AND WHINING. SHIA IS NOT A GOOD ACTOR! They wrote his character to be such a flip dlopping developmental mess…. they wrote whitwicky to have character growth… then they take it away from him… his character is over entitled in DOTM…. the government owes me this, and that, and oh my god… shia might be the worst actor ever. Wahlberg on the other hand in the last ten years has had some damn good roles. I give you The Italian Job and Four Brothers. He was great in both those films, Whereas shia has done crappy overacting in Indy 4 and Eagle Eye… the only film shia has ever been in that I enjoy is I, Robot…. and he’s barely in that.

          As far as Kevin Dunn Vs Mark Wahlberg… they are both overprotective fathers but dunn’s performance is all cheesy, whereas Wahlberg’s is actually good.

          1. When did I say Shia was a better actor than Mark Walhberg? I said his presence was superiors in the past Transformers movie to Walhberg in this film. I judge a performance on a case by case basis. Just because he was good in past movies doesn’t mean he is automatically better in this one. Walhberg barely showed up. There is nothing good about his performance. And having to point to past performances is more proof of the fact. Cause there is nothing good to point to in here.

    2. What about the new characters are adult besides their age? At least Shia had somewhat of a personality. Walhberg was bland in every way. He doesn’t have the weight to make his role as a protective father come off as anything but laughable. I have no idea what you are talking about with Kevin Dunn and how that impacts the ineffectiveness of Wahlbergs performance.

      If you like this movie fine. I have standards, and this didn’t meet the lowest of them by any stretch of the imagination. Easily the worst movie I’ve seen this year by a very large margin.

      1. It’s definitely near the bottom but I think I must have seen a few films you missed from early in the year cause I have a couple that were worse haha. Sadly I think tmnt may end up being worse!

  4. I was never a fan of Shia, he is to me what Patterson was to Twilight. It’s a big franchise movie that applies to a certain demographic. Once that star leaves that franchise…and tires something else the results can be mixed. Case in point, I’ve seen Shia in other films…was never impressed. I wouldn’t call him the destroyer of franchises…but at the end of Crystal Skull…people were throwing their cups of soda and bags of popcorn at the screen. At a drive in for Revenge of the Fallen…there was road rage on who could leave the parking area fast enough after 20 mins. Shia never did anything for me…it was just too fast too soon for him. Now he couldn’t get arrested in this…oh wait he did…These films were always, big clunky, loud, humorless, never know who the audience should be. Mark as an inventor never pays off. I never really see him…well…doing anything scientific. The overbearing father has been done to death. Mark’s a nice upgrade, but the overbearing father…no…and as for his daughter…in REAL life she’s 19. Whatever the case is, she’d never be allowed to dress the way she did for a high school student. Mine had a strict dress code. Besides, we never see her use her brain…wait this is a Michael Bay film…whoops sorry I forgot.

  5. As I am watching the previous Bay-Formers this 4th of July…I don’t know which sequel is bottom of the barrel. Dark of the Moon or Revenge of the Fallen? It’s like the Episode II Vs Episode III of Star Wars. What do I mean? Well we were hoping that with future sequels we’d get more story and less sub plot that would go nowhere. With Revenge of the Fallen we have this sub plot of Sam going clear across the country to an Ivy League school? Why? What does this have to do with Prime and the Fallen? Do we care about Sam’s relationship with Megan Fox? Her name says it all, she is a Megan. As for The Fallen…You know what let’s go into Star Wars Episode V territory. Megatron never had an Emperor Palpatine. Now he does? What is the purpose? Sam’s parents are useless are usual. I do like the father, he’d make a good Sparkplug from the G1 show. However, the mother geting stoned in ROTF? WHY? Skids…Mudflap? Now we move onto AOE…I like how I can tell Autobot from Autobot in robot and vehicle form. Yet 45 mins needed to be shaved off. Two they need to now drop the stereotypes, Drift, that Lucky Charms racer. Make Greg Burger voice Grimlock…then we have a ball game. Finally drop the human sub plots. I want to see robots fight robots.

    1. First, what do you mean “she is a megan”?? Also, I have no idea what you are getting at with the attempt to compare this to Star Wars…not sure if I have heard a worse comparison in quite some time. You seem to be saying both DOM and ROF are bad and then you try to compare it to SW2 and SW3…um Revenge of the Sith was the best film bar none out of the prequels…also don’t see any elements that you can compare between the films…utterly confused by your whole comment actually.

  6. Another thing…what did Happen to Sam and his parents? According to Mark Whalberg in an interview he joked that they died in an Tornado. Another thing, Optimus cared for humans and a few stabbed him in the back and then turn his entire back on Planet Earth? HUH?

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