Review – Transformers: Age of Extinction

T4R

Warning: This review contains some minor spoilers from Transformers: Age of Extinction. Enter at your own risk! 

Transformers has already met the big screen three times already, with each one trying to overwhelm the successor with scale and content. Age of Extinction is no different, in fact, it stresses this fact as it stretches the explosions, scope, and action into something that’s just a tad bit unnecessary. But when people think of Michael Bay and Transformers, they think of massive explosions and a roller coaster ride of action. Because of this, Age of Extinction is exactly what you expect.

In a nice bit of fresh air, this installation in the series introduces a new set of characters. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a self-proclaimed inventor, is struggling in life. As a widower caring for his 17 year old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), he’s determined to give her the life she deserves, however, their lives are shot into chaos after he finds and repairs Optimus Prime.

The government, headed by the villainous Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), has declared war against the robot-like aliens. It’s a strange, but nice touch to see the usual heroes cast out by the humans they’ve continuously saved, and it gives a nice look into Prime’s conscience as he wars between saving the humans that have betrayed his kind and leaving them to fall beneath their own destruction. The Autobots, particularly Optimus Prime, seem to become just a bit more human because of this.

Adding more drama into the Autobots allows them to carry more screen-time outside of the usual explosive fights, and while it’s nice to see, it simply builds upon the extra filler created by the drama taking place between Cade and his family. This unfortunately stretches the film to an almost exasperating length, and I almost found myself breathing a sigh of relief when the end credits finally rolled.

The humans, while obviously necessary in the story, weren’t all that important. I had a harder time relating to these characters despite the fact that they were trying to interject moral lessons through their story. The emotion, while managing to be somewhat convincing from Wahlberg, held no true depth. The childish relationship between Tessa and her car racing boyfriend held no substance outside of a few witty one-liners and father-boyfriend insults.

The interjection of Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) is a helpful addition in a group of stale characters. While initially being a “bad guy” by assisting Attinger with man-made Transformers, his turn to help the Autobots is welcoming while he adds more humor outside of quick talking and wit. His character, much like the goofy Lucas (T.J. Miller), feels more like a figure of comic relief in a film that tries to be darker than it actually is. Because of this, it almost felt like a fight between whether or not the film should grasp the continuous shots of humor that is familiar in the past three films or move into a more dramatic, darker mood.

The villains were underwhelming, especially the man-made Transformers. Outside of some cool effects and the threat of having Megatron’s mind implanted into these machines, they didn’t feel intimidating enough. The fight scenes they deliver are drawn-out and repetitive. But thankfully, you can recognize who is who during these scenes… which is a plus.

The highlights of the film rest on the shoulders of the accompanying Autobots. Bumblebee, Drift (Ken Watanabe), Hound (John Goodman), Crosshairs (John DiMaggio), and Brains (Reno Wilson) offer fantastic humor and action (I also just love Goodman) during the film’s best moments. Also the introduction of the anticipated Dinobots was nice, however, you may be a bit disappointed at their minor appearance and influence in the overall story. Seeing Optimus enter battle on the back of a fire-breathing Grimlock is obviously awesome, though.

Age of Extinction is purely a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs that may leave you a bit exhausted. While it managed to definitely beat its successors in terms of scale, it lacked an important connection between the characters and audience which manages to be its fatal flaw. If you like explosive robot battles, Age of Extinction was made just for you, but don’t enter this movie hoping for a genuine and deep story.

Score: 6.0

 

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