After the devastation of Chicago several years ago, Transformers are being hunted and have gone into hiding. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) stumbles upon the dormant Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), causing Cade, Optimus, Cade’s daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and Tessa’s boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) meet up with the remaining Autobots and go on the run from the CIA.
I went into Transformers: Age of Extinction with what I wouldn’t call high hopes but some hope. It had a new cast and a fresh start. Unfortunately, it also had too long of a run time and no apparent sense of direction. Not only that, but the Dinobots, a large part of the marketing for the movie, only appeared at the tail end. I’m not going to be one of those fans that go on an angry rant, but I will say that it could have, and should have, been much better.
One of the positives about Transformers: Age of Extinction is that is does have some pretty funny lines and moments. Most of these are supplied by either TJ Miller or Stanley Tucci. Tucci is easily one of the best things about this film. His role is different than his other films like Easy A or The Hunger Games. It goes to show how versatile he can be. At times the humor felt a little forced, but overall it was pretty good.
Having Frank Welker voice Galvatron, the reincarnated Megatron, was a great nod towards fans, just like Peter Cullen supplying his voice for Optimus Prime. Cullen and Welker were the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron/Galvatron respectively in the original 1980s The Transformers cartoon. Welker did a few voices in Dark of the Moon but I was happy to see him return to one of his original roles from the cartoon. Hugo Weaving was perfect for Megatron in the first three movies, but Welker needed to come in eventually and this was the perfect time to do it.
I was blown away by the special effects and computer generated images (CGI) of Transformers, and Age of Extinction takes that up a notch. All the character designs and models looked spectacular. Despite the chaotic nature of the fight sequences, it was much easier to follow than the first film. The final fight scene was especially impressive. My friend described it as much more fluid than before; It actually felt like a real fight rather than “Power Ranger Megazords fighting each other” (I think those were his words). I would have to say that is a pretty good analogy and I am inclined to agree with him.
Once the action really picked up, about 30-45 minutes into the movie, it literally never stopped. I don’t think there was more than a ten minute span where something wasn’t blowing up. Had this come out when I was younger, this would have been my favorite of the series for that reason alone. Action in action movies is great (it’s pretty much implied), but when that takes away from the characters, it becomes a little too much, especially when there is over two and a half hours of it.
Because of the huge focus on action and explosions, there was virtually no characterization. Any time it seemed like there was going to be some character development, like when Cade (Mark Wahlberg) and Optimus start discussing parenting, it cuts away and the action revs back up. We learn about the human characters a little (a lot about how Cade was going to protect his daughter), but hardly anything about the Transformers themselves. Since the only returning Autobots were Optimus and Bumblebee, I would have liked to learn about the new robots. I know it wasn’t a matter of time, because with 165 minutes, it could have happened.
For a movie whose advertising strongly showed the Dinobots, they hardly had any screen time. They only appeared for the final 20-ish minutes of the action (maybe more, I started to lose track of time) and acted more like a deus ex machina than anything else. And I was expecting a more epic showdown between Optimus and Grimlock, which was very anticlimactic. I would have almost preferred that their presence in the film was not teased at all and instead have it be a surprise when they showed up on screen. My attitude would have been more “Whaa? Dinobots? Awesome!” rather than “Where are the Dinobots? That’s it?” Big difference.
Transformers: Age of Extinction suffers from too-man-villains syndrome. There is the main human villain, his head henchman, another human villain who is kind of but isn’t really a bad guy, the Transformers’ villain Lockdown, and Galvatron. The main focus was on Lockdown and Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), but unfortunately that meant Glavatron was pushed to the side and was hardly present. Attinger felt like your stereotypical comic villain, bordering on the corny side. I will say this though: Lockdown is a badass. He was a great adversary for the Autobots and different from the Decepticons from the previous films. As for Galvatron, I do like how they brought him into the series, it was the best way to introduce him without Unicron (a world-devouring being who transformed Megatron into Galvatron in the 1986 film The Transformers: The Movie).
I don’t know why, but I was expecting so much more from Transformers: Age of Extinction. The Dinobots, a huge part of the trailers and marketing in general, hardly have a presence in the film. Too many bad guys caused several villains to get only a few minutes of screen time. The human villain Harold Attinger, played by Kelsey Grammer, was pretty flat, but Lockdown, the big Transformers villain, was a badass. With a run time almost that of The Godfather, and non-stop action from the beginning, it was overwhelming. And even with that much time, there was virtually no character development. I understand the something like Transformers is supposed to be corny, but Transformers: Age of Extinction saw the line, flew over it and never looked back.
Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Ehren Kruger – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer
Mark Wahlberg – Cade Yeager
Nicola Peltz – Tessa Yeager
Jack Reynor – Shane Dyson
Stanley Tucci – Joshua Joyce
Kelsey Grammer – Harold Attinger
Titus Welliver – James Savoy
Sophia Myles – Darcy Tirrel
Bingbing Li – Su Yueming
TJ Miller – Lucas Flannery
James Bachman – Gill Wembley
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
John Goodman – Hound (voice)
Ken Watanabe – Drift (voice)
John DiMaggio – Crosshairs (voice)
Mark Ryan – Lockdown (voice)
Frank Welker – Galvatron (voice)
Reno Wilson – Brains (voice)