Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

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When Transformers: Dark of the Moon hit theaters three years ago, many speculated which director would take over Michael Bay’s spot for the next Transformers installment. Little do people know that Michael Bay wasn’t just coming back for the fourth film, he was coming back to helm an all-new trilogy of films. Yet with a new cast of actors and the Dinobots, fans were hopeful that Michael Bay would deliver something different compared to his first trilogy of films.

So does Transformers: Age of Extinction rejuvenate the franchise or do we get the same “Baysplosion” filled action extravaganza that we got from the first three films? While Transformers: Age of Extinction fixes the problems that plagued the first trilogy, the overabundance of villains and plotlines hinder an otherwise well-crafted film.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction occurs four years after the final battle left Chicago in ruins in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The U.S. government has cut all ties with the Autobots and branded any alien robot as fugitives. With the help of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor), Optimus reassembles the remaining Autobots in order to combat a new threat.

Much like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction is plagued by an overabundance of useless characters, villains and plotlines. It’s as if the screenwriter, Ehren Kruger, didn’t know which villain he should focus on so instead he focused on several villains in the first act, another villain in the second act, then attempt to tie everything together in the final act. The idea of cramming numerous characters into one film didn’t work for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and this certainly doesn’t work here. Which is sad to see because the franchise needed a fresh start to make up for the last two mediocre films. The problem is that Bay and company knows you’re going to watch Age of Extinction and, in doing so, they wanted to set up villains for this film and introduce another villain for the overall story arc for the next two films.

In addition, each villain comes with its own bloated storyline — which can get burdensome due to Michael Bay’s poor sense of pacing. At a running time of 165 minutes, Bay felt the need to go through telling each and every storyline on top of his explosion-filled action scenes. The film felt like an eternity at times.

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Despite all that, this is Michael Bay’s most mature film yet. It doesn’t seem like a Michael Bay film as there wasn’t a lot of gimmicky camera shots or humor in the film (don’t worry there are still explosions and shameless product placements aplenty). The film also deals with a lot of darker themes compared with the other films. Be aware that the Age of Extinction isn’t a “happy” film. It is a much more serious film.

Thankfully, Mark Wahlberg is a major upgrade from Shia LeBeouf. Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager is a more charismatic character than Sam Witwicky and the film benefits greatly from it. Wahlberg does such a good job in his role that I actually believed that he was a robotics engineer. Another stand out character in the film is Stanley Tucci’s Joshua Joyce. Tucci looked like he had a lot of fun playing his character and it definitely shows on screen.

Unfortunately, the rest of the humans aren’t as memorable (or useful) as Cade and Joshua. Tessa and Shane are basically stock characters that are just there to give Cade a purpose throughout the film. Kelsey Grammer was great as the human antagonist, but ultimately gets a backseat to the other villains. Titus Welliver did well as Grammer’s hired thug, but he doesn’t have much to do or have any sort of character development.

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As for the Transformers themselves, this is nothing but the Optimus Prime show. The entire film is carried by Mark Wahlberg and Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime. Unlike the previous films, Bumblebee isn’t seen as much. He takes a back seat and shares the same amount of screen time as the other Autobots: Hound, Crosshairs and Drift. Also, don’t expect to see a lot of the Dinobots either. They appear in the final act of the film, and only transform into their robot form for a total of 3 minutes. The rest of the time they are in their dinosaur form. Oh, and the Dinobots don’t speak at all either. All of them just roar and make animalistic sounds.

The most improved aspect of the film is that Michael Bay has finally learned to put together a battle scene where you can tell which Autobot is fighting who. One of the major criticisms of the Transformers films is that the fight scenes between the Autobots and Decepticons you can’t tell who is who. Much of the Transformers have gone through a makeover phase as each Transformer now has a humanistic face which conveys the emotion of each Transformer as they’re talking.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the first film to use IMAX’s new digital 3D cameras and it looks amazing on IMAX screens. Fair warning though, 60% of the film is shot in IMAX meaning that the aspect ratio will change throughout the course of the film. So if you were distracted by the ever changing aspect ratios from The Dark Knight Rises IMAX presentation, then you will be distracted by it again here.

Overall, Transformers: Age of Extinction is still an enjoyable, “brain shutdown” type of film that only Michael Bay can deliver on an epic scale. It’s just unfortunate that the film suffers from an overkill of characters and plotlines since this could’ve easily been the best Transformers film yet.

Rating: 3/5 Atoms
NR 3 Atoms - C

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1575 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.