Roll Out! Transformers: Age of Extinction Review
Going to see the new Transformers was actually a bit of a difficult choice. The simple fact is based on the previous movies I could pretty much predict this was going to be a pretty horrible movie in terms of story with a lot of action and robot on robot fighting action with explosions. However while all the previous Transformers movies are definitely not shining beacons of movie magic I can’t help but enjoy the action and robot fighting which can usually get me through the movie. So it was with obvious worry that I entered the cinema for this newest instalment to see what Michael Bay had in store for me this time.
And what I can say at this point is this: I can’t help but feel it wasn’t worth the money. Yeah…not a good feeling.
The story picks up several years after the third film and early on we even see a sign saying “Remember Chicago” and asking people to call a number to report any alien activity. Since Chicago the world and specifically the CIA in the film have been tracking down and killing off Transformers. Unfortunately despite how much the Autobots helped previously they too are being targeted and killed in the hunt. Cue Mark Wahlberg’s character Cade (who is typically set up in a struggling family hoping to finally make a break as a surprisingly buff inventor) accidentally discovering Optimus Prime and suddenly being thrown into the Autobots new conflict attempting to help and solve his own life problems along the way.
First thing I have to get out. This movie is way too long. It clocks in at around 2 hours and 45 minutes. I’m not saying long movies are bad, but this film has so much unnecessary footage and just useless things added in you find yourself scene after scene wondering when they will move on. For a film that Michael Bay claimed they were going to take much more seriously than the previous films, Transformers 4 just has so many silly, useless and un-funny jokes that could have been removed. Everything feels dragged out just to add time. It’s one of the first moves I’ve genuinely asked why an action sequence had to be so long and when it would end. The amount they could cut the film could seriously go for under 2 hours and I feel it would be a much better experience.
It doesn’t help that the story isn’t the greatest. Overall the idea I felt was certainly interesting and seeing how Optimus and the Autobots deal with the Humans they once fought to protect hunt them, should have set up a pretty damn huge moral dilemma with the Transformer leader. However the story jumps from one extreme to the next. One of the Transformers is constantly talking about how they should leave or even go on and just kill Humans yet he immediately bends when Optimus tells him to and there is no real conflict that could have easily been set up. Another Transformer jumps back and forth, in one scene saying he doesn’t care about Humans then in the very next prepared to put his life on the line for Cade and his family with no story reason to explain his sudden change. What should have been an important raid the Transformers did to stop a lab that was melting down their old friends to get their new Tranformium (That name just rings originality) ends with just a conversation of Joshua Joyce who runs the company, basically insulting them and saying get out…and the Transformers get out. I’m not saying they should have killed the guy but the whole confrontation just sort of ended and didn’t feel like anything came of it.
Don’t get me started on the Humans. Cade has a 17 year old daughter he insists can’t date until she graduates which just feels way too old fashioned personally. Her secret boyfriend runs in at the right time and suddenly has to try and bond with old Dad while he tries to keep them apart…I have no issue with having a strong Human character alongside the Transformers however once again I feel like they have tried to shove in as many Human characters as they can almost to try and overshadow the Transformers. Joshua Joyce (aforementioned runner of said bad company) actually has an interesting moral dilemma when he realizes Galvatron (that’s right, Galvatron is in the film) isn’t what he made him to be and starts to change allegiances. However this fairly interesting character just devolves into silly jokes towards the end of the film essentially ruining any kind of interesting character development he had.
One of the big villains this time around is Lockdown, a Transformer bounty hunter who secretly works with the Humans attempting to get Optimus on behalf of the Transformers creators (the Transformers creation lore is mixed up a bit from what we have been told before) which lead to the temporary alliance for the Humans own reasons. Lockdown starts pretty interesting and stays so still the end, though you never really learn a huge amount about him, his dark nature and mysterious intents making him a fairly evil villain. Shame he is mostly overshadowed by the Humans who overall I felt were a bit lacklustre, with even Kelsey Grammar’s villainous character unable to really grab me. The reveal of Galvatron and his eventually reveal of using the Humans for his own means was a nice touch, however he is hardly seen. He makes this huge bid at the end to get a special item he needs, but only his lackeys and never himself are seen. I forgot he was there and was only reminded when he made a sudden final appearance saying he will back. Maybe you should have just appeared at the end Galvatron, made a dramatic reveal showing us you were reborn as you say, and give us something to look forward to in the next film.
That’s another big problem. A lot of things are set up and never really paid off in any satisfying way. The Dinobots were a huge and exciting reveal to be in the movie and I even had no issue with them turning up until the end. However their fighting seems too quick (no matter how cool it is) and something I never thought I would complain about, they stay in Dino Mode the entire time. Don’t get me wrong it’s cool, but couldn’t we see them fight in Robot Mode a bit? There is even a point they do transform to hold a bridge but we never see them fight, instead cutting to the final fight with Lockdown and never see what they can do.
There is a big set-up in the film of a Human Made Transformer said to be a better version of Bumblebee. However I feel it was never paid off again. We don’t see the fight start; we just suddenly come into Bumblebee and this new Transformer fighting however. Not only that but the fight mainly takes place on the back of the flying Dinobot, meaning they don’t fight much but spend a lot of time rolling around and trying to stay on. When Bumblebee finally wins it doesn’t feel like a real great victory as we never got the big fight they were clearly setting up for.
I’ve gone on a bit in this review but this film just felt like there were no pay-offs, too much sillyness and too much overall. Michael Bay clearly tried to shove as much as he could in this film but it feels cluttered and devoid of a real direction, with characters and plot struggling to jump from one point to the next. Cutting down a lot of the scenes could have made it a little more direct but I doubt it could have saved the film overall. The sad part is the story itself I felt had some great potential but Bay fell once again into the trap of trying to make high action and silly jokes to try and make a popular film.
As a result I have to give this film:
4 out of 10
If you really love Transformers and just wanna see Robot fighting action, then this film will be great no doubt. But where it had potential to become something maybe not ground-breaking but decent and enjoyable it became a cluttered mess filled with bad characters, way too much content and pointless scenes and just too silly humour. As I said I feel like I pretty much wasted my money and I have to honestly say. I think it’s time to put Transformers to rest for a while and then reboot, this time with someone who won’t try and clutter the film and leave the hopeless jokes on the cutting room floor.