To see a movie like Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, you have to go in already expecting nothing short of a lot of CGI, explosions, loud noises, dumb characters, and an underdeveloped plot. If you go in expecting all of these things, then you certainly won’t be disappointed. This latest Transformers delivers all of the Bay-ish qualities of a popcorn movie and then some.
Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and the Autobots are now in hiding because they are being hunted by the U.S. government after the messy battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons in Chicago. A broke inventor from Texas, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), finds an old, beat up truck he plans to buy and fix up. To his surprise, he finds out that this truck is actually an Autobot–Optimus Prime, to be specific. A CIA unit who is looking for Optimus eventually visits Cade at his farm and threatens him and his daughter. After a car chase in which they manage to escape the CIA and a new alien antagonist named Lockdown (Mark Ryan), Cade, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and Tessa’s boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) agree to help Optimus and the surviving Autobots. They infiltrate a company called KSI, which is run by Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), who is using a metal called “transformium” to produce their own transformers. They are also using the heads and memories of some Decepticons, Megatron included, in the process. Megatron uses this as a way to be “reborn” into the man-made Transformer called Galvatron (Frank Welker). Then a lot of other stuff happens, including Lockdown telling Optimus that the “Creators” (the mysterious alien race who created the Transformers) want him back, and then Joshua is given a bomb thing called the “Seed,” which will kill stuff and turn it into transformium, and then there’s some more explosions, car chases, and oh yeah, Dinobots.
Let’s get right to the point here. Is this a good movie? No. Is it terrible? To what standards? I have to say that when I was sitting through Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon three years ago, it felt like torture. Even though some people enjoyed it more than Revenge of the Fallen, I thought it was just as bad. I went into Age of Extinction already hating it. For some reason though, I didn’t feel that same amount of torture that I felt three years ago. Maybe it was the change of cast or something, I’m not really sure. It’s actually quite illogical. Perhaps going in with absolutely zero expectations helped. However, in its defense, there was some entertaining moments in this movie, and even though a lot of the plot was really dumb, I still found some of it to actually be fun.
I have to say I hate Michael Bay for making this movie almost three hours long, though, I really really do. I think the length hurt it more. I would’ve preferred less than two hours of mindless action rather than what I got, but alas, that wasn’t the case. I just feel like since it was so long, maybe he would’ve taken just a few more minutes to actually develop the characters a little. I know, I know, looking for character development in a Transformers movie is a lot to ask, but c’mon. Three hours…three hours.
Some of the characters were OK, like Mark Wahlberg’s and Stanley Tucci’s. Tucci plays the humorous bad guy so well, he’s perfect in those types of roles. I wasn’t a fan of Kelsey Grammer’s bad guy character, Harold Attinger. He just wasn’t very convincing. Nicola Peltz’s character was very stupid. At least Megan Fox could hold her own, but Peltz served no purpose other than being the damsel in distress and the stupid teenager who doesn’t listen to her father. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s character had almost the same problem in the last Transformers–pretty, but useless damsel. But I suppose what else can you expect from Bay, being the misogynist jerk that he is? Mostly all the women characters in his movies suffer from the same problems, being incredibly gorgeous but incredibly stupid. Props to Jack Reynor, though, who played the “driver” boyfriend for being the most useless character in the whole movie. He was wimpy, had no good lines, and only had one good driving scene. Who the hell needs a professional driver character when there’s a bunch of Autobots who can drive themselves? Someone didn’t think this through.
As for the things I did like–that would include John Goodman and Ken Watanabe’s Autobot characters, Hound and Drift. They were stupidly humorous. Hound looked just like Goodman too, if Goodman were a giant alien made out of metal, smoking a metal cigar. Drift looked like a Japanese samurai, which I guess is a fitting characterization. The Dinobots were cool as well, even if they weren’t in it for very long. The effects were unbelievable, there’s no doubt that’s where most of that $165 million budget went. I also don’t know jack about cars, but I do know when they look awesome, and this movie has no shortage of awesome looking cars racing around. Some of the action scenes were engrossing as well, I’ll admit. Some of the problems I find with Bay movies is that a lot of his action scenes don’t move the film along at all, they become drawn out and boring after the first few minutes, especially his car chases. He’s actually one of the few directors I know who can succeed at taking things you would expect to be interesting and exciting, and making them boring as hell. I didn’t find myself to be bored nearly as often here, though, so that’s a small step up.
So, in my opinion, Transformers: Age of Extinction isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s also not particularly good. For the franchise, though, it’s hard to expect anything more. I think people who choose to go see it will hate it less if they go in with no expectations whatsoever. I think I hated the last two more because I went in expecting to see something that was fun and not-so-terrible, like the first Transformers, which I enjoyed. But I was let down twice in a row. People can hate on Michael Bay all they want, but in the end, he doesn’t give a crap. Yeah, this was a totally unnecessary addition to the franchise, but people are still going to see it. His movies are still going to make money no matter how good or bad they are. If you love the Transformers and don’t mind movies with over the top action and stupid plots that will turn your mind to mush, then I would say, see this. If not, skip it, because you won’t find anything more than what I just described.