There’s going to be a vocal contingent that argues that Age of Extinction is the best Transformers movie. It isn’t. It’s not the worst (here’s looking at you Revenge of The Fallen) but it’s really not the best either. That whole discussion is kind of ridiculous though because when you stop and think you’ll realize that you’re arguing which f these terrible movies is the least terrible. If you think that’s _Age of Extinction more power to you because the movie does fix a few of the problems that the previous three had but it also introduces a bunch more problems to deal with.
So here’s the basic premise: it’s five years after the events of Dark of the Moon and there’s a CIA division with a terrible code name hunting down transformers because transformers are aliens. They’re supposed to be hunting deceptions only but they’re hunting all the transformers and they’re working with Lockdown, a transformer himself who isn’t an autobot or a deception but instead works for “the creators” and wants to capture Optimus Prime.
Also the CIA team gives the spoils of their battles (i.e.: transformer bits) to a tech genius billionaire who is using their parts to build new, human controlled transformers. The main Transformer they are using for R & D, well, I’m not going to spoil it exactly but the main transformer they build is called Galvatron, do with that what you will.
Also also Mark Wahlberg is a Texan inventor (he’s from Baustin, Texas) struggling to make ends meet despite always having cash around to pay for things who gets swept up in al the mayhem when an old truck he’s bough to strip for parts turns out to be Optimus Prime.
The government bad guys show up, the house explodes, and the rest of her to film is Marky Mark and his 17 year old daughter (Nicola Peltz) and her 20 year old boyfriend (Jack Reynor) on the run with Prime and the autobots trying to figure out what the hell is going on.
What follows is another 2 hours of things blowing up in slow motion, Mark. Wahlberg chewing through terrible dialogue with the utmost enthusiasm and sincerity, everyone objectifying the 17 year old girl (and a curiously detailed description of Texas Romeo & Juliet Laws to explain why it’s not statutory rape that the 20 year old is dating her), jingoistic American flag waving (Bays signature image), a character who’s arc literally goes from curiosity and pro science to “some things should never be invented”, egregious product placement (at one point they crash a space ship into a truck and Bud Light goes everywhere and Marky Mark picks on up and takes a swig because reasons), and lots of dumb dialogue, and more sexism, and China.
Now a lot of the problems from the first three films have been fixed. Bay has pulled his camera back and steadied it sowe can actually see what the fuck is going on when the action is on screen. This combined with the individual Transformers being redesigned to be more distinct means you can actually tell who is fighting who which is a welcome change.
Update:Those of you who are looking forward to seeing the Dinobots had better lower your expectations. They’re used without context, no mention of why they look like dinosaurs (and their intro makes it more confusing that they do) and they don’t even speak (unless you count roaring).
At least some of the humans are better this time around too. Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, and Titus Welliver are the three main antagonists of the story and they are each great. Tucci in particular seems to have realized that he can be as ridiculous as he wants and it works pretty well even contrasted with Grammers super serious performance and Walhbergs super earnest one. Nicola Peltz is just a damsel in distress and Jack Reynor is Irish and they’re both basically useless.
The focus remains on the humans during the fights with the transformers in the background much of the time so those of you looking for robot fights you’ll be happy with what you see but you won’t seen enough of it.
Worse, most of the action is kind of boring and there’s no real continuity even within each sequence, There was one fight sequence on a highway where the transformers were shown in one shot as robots and in the next as vehicles again with no shot of them actually transforming. In the same sequence many many many cars are taken out but they are so obviously empty and set up it was nearly impossible for me to suspend disbelief.
Where the film really falls down is that it doesn’t make any sense. You can argue that it’s just a film about alien fighting robots but even the silliest premise needs to adhere to its own internal logic to work. I can’t get into most of this without spoiling (will discuss in more detail in the podcast) but suffice to say whatever needs to happen in each scene happens, but they basically completely disregard anything said or done in other scenes that may establish some continuity. Each scene works for the scene, but the scenes don’t work for the movie.
I don’t know what to tel you folks. The movie is pretty bad. You should skip it and see something that’s actually good. Unless you’ve actually liked the Transformers movies (which are among the highest grossing, lowest rated movies of all time) in which case go and enjoy more of the same ridiculous bad boring stuff.