Transformers: Age of Extinction

Posted: July 4, 2014 in Movie Reviews

Optimus Prime_Transformers4

The question of necessity should almost always be asked on the fourth installment of any franchise. Is there a good story to be told? Or is it a mere cash grab by a studio eager to make a pile of money? But the real question is not how much Transformers do we need, but rather——the question that film studios pose——how much money is there to be made. And when billions of dollars are in the question, it becomes readily apparent that the Transformers  franchise is far too lucrative to not make sequel after sequel.

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 Summary: (No spoilers)

Following the devastating attack on Chicago from the events of Dark of the Moon, humanity has decided that there has been enough Transformer involvement on earth and begins hunting down the Autobots one by one. When a small-town guy named Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg——The Fighter) buys an old semi-truck in hopes of making a few bucks off of it, he quickly discovers that the hunk of scrap metal is no other than Optimus Prime. When the CIA——in league with a Decepticon bounty hunter——shows up at his home, threatening his family, Yeager quickly becomes engulfed in the conflict along with his daughter and her boyfriend and witnesses firsthand the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons.

When technology pioneer Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci——The Hunger Games, The Devil Wears Prada) engineers “Transformium”, the metal that the Transformers are made of that gives him the ability to create his own sentient robots, his greatest technological breakthrough turns into a disaster as his prototypes (including Galvatron, a reincarnated Megatron) vow ultimate extinction on all humanity.

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 You walk into this new Transformers outing knowing exactly what you’re in for, and you get exactly what you pay for: lots of those fireworks explosions, lots of dramatic tension, and plenty of high-octane action on an enormous scale, all in true Michael Bay fashion. While there is so much material that, at this point, is just so hackneyed and worn-out, there are some positive elements that greatly stand out and put this film above the previous two.

Mark-Wahlberg_Transformers4

Firstly, no Shia LaBeouf. While he’s certainly a talented actor, his character was always written as a ridiculous, nerdy kid and was certainly becoming far too stale in this franchise. Also, no dumb, stupid parents! While comic relief is important, the parents (and especially the mother) were simply annoying pebbles in the proverbial shoe. You wanted them gone forever, but Michael Bay just thought they were too hilarious to cut out.

And speaking of annoying characters, Age of Extinction improves greatly on the overall human cast. Mark Wahlberg is an Academy Award-winning actor. But ultimately he’s never given ample opportunities to flex his acting muscles. Stanley Tucci, as well, is an outstanding actor. Unfortunately his character is written as merely another John Turturro from the past films. Despite playing poorly conceived characters, however, the two actors still manage to bring some level of dignity to this otherwise inflated and bombastic sequel. Everyone else in the film is bland and merely subpar actors/actresses playing trite characters. It’s just too bad Michael Bay doesn’t spend as much time with his cast as he does with his visual effects artists.

But to be fair, the human aspect of the film works greatly to its advantage than the past films. For instance, there’s no Megan Fox or hot chicks playing love interests to the kid next door——something that has always been so farfetched in the Transformers franchise. Instead, in this film, we get a subplot revolving around Wahlberg and his relationship with his teenage daughter. Throughout the course of the film, he teaches her about making mature life decisions while at the same time warding off the hot boyfriend. The emphasis is not on the love relationship but rather on the father-daughter relationship, which is truly a wisp of fresh air.

As far as the Autobots go, we have three brand new characters——the British mercenary with a trench coat; the rough soldier of fortune complete with a beer belly, beard, and a cigar hanging out of his mouth (voiced by John Goodman); and the Japanese samurai. All these characters are expendable and represent Bay’s ridiculous imagination when it comes to giving his robot characters separate appearances and ethnicity. The only ones we care about are Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. Also new to the film are the Dinobots, who are really cool for the brief time they’re actually in the film. But I will admit, Optimus riding into battle on top of a robot T. Rex and wielding a sword is certainly quite the spectacle.

Autobots_Transformers4

 

In a nutshell:

While there are certainly enjoyable moments, and the film as a whole is an improvement over the previous two without the ridiculous characters and blatant racial jokes and innuendos, Transformers: Age of Extinction is exactly what you think it’ll be: big action and explosions with more larger-than-life characters saving the world from total destruction. But perhaps one of the reasons I didn’t enjoy it all that much was the fact that I watched Saving Private Ryan the night before——a prime example of great cinema, not some “turn your brain off” Michael Bay tripe.

 

5 stars

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