Say what you will about the emotional depth, human element, or coherence of the Transformers films. What can’t be argued is their level of CG action and mindless fun. I enjoyed the first three movies a lot and found Sam Witwicky’s relationship with Bumblebee, Optiums and the rest of the autobots interesting. The first one is probably the best in terms of storytelling and the third is best in regards to action, but they all kept me entertained.
With Transformers: Age Of Extinction, Michael Bay has returned to direct the series’ fourth entry, and maybe it is time for him to move on. The charm and witty banter Shia LaBeouf brought to the films are gone and instead we have a rough and tough action hero in Mark Wahlberg. This film has a entirely new cast of humans and Transformers and it suffers for that. The plot is relatively simple but is made complicated by a bloated story with to many characters and an unacceptable run-time. There are some elements of this movie that work but overall I didn’t really care much for the characters, their mission, or the outcome.
AoE takes plays sometime after the “Battle of Chicago” in the third film. All Transformers have been hunted down and killed in the name of security. Cade Yeager, played by Wahlberg, is an inventor who is out of money and luck. His daughter Tessa is upon her high school graduation and spends most of her time taking care of her dad. I’ve always been a fan of Wahlberg (I love Boogie Nights) and he does the best he can, but some of the words that come out of his mouth are just ridiculous here. This Texan with a Boston accent, who has the build of a wrestler, and tinkers with electronics in his barn is hard to believe. He does bring a level of physicality that Shia wasn’t capable of, but by the time he’s asking for his “big alien gun” I was over it. Tessa (Nicola Peltz) is a useless character who’s only purpose is being saved by her father or boyfriend Shane Dyson, played by Jack Reynor. He’s an Irish race car driver and I don’t completely hate his character, although the banter between him and Wahlberg didn’t work that well for me. Kelsey Grammer plays the primary human antagonist and his performance is fine, but the issue is that his actions don’t make much sense. Stanley Tucci plays Joshua Joyce, an inventor who creates a new type of soulless Transformer. He probably has the best performance and his character actually has an acr.
The Transformers themselves are just as unforgettable as they’ve always been (with the exception of Bumblebee and Optiums of course). John Goodman brings his great voice to Hound, but he does a little to much talking. Ken Watanabe plays Drift and I can barley understand anything he says throughout the movie. Bumblebee takes a bit of a backseat here, but he has a few standout moments. Optiums is in an interesting position as he’s past the idea of protecting humans and even plans to kill the man who destroyed his friends.
The action in the movie looks as good as ever and the characters are much more distinguishable than before. Unfortunately, none of the setpieces work as well as the scenes in Chicago in Dark Of The Moon. The heavily advertised Dinobots are rushed into the film during the final act and have no real effect on the battle. Being introduced near of the end of this 165 minute movie didn’t help these pretty cool bots, and that is my biggest issue with this film. All of the Transformers movies run long but no movie of this nature has any business being 2 hours and 45 minutes. The entire sequence in Hong Kong comes when it seems like the credits are around the corner. I have a hard time recommending this movie because its length, but it is Transformers and there are cool fights and plenty of explosions so go at your own risk.