REVIEW: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction'
First things first – I don’t trash Michael Bay movies because a) the vast majority of the people who do it aren’t familiar with his work and they just want to sound intelligent by putting him down, and b) he tends to do good, given the right material. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed the first Transformers enough to watch Revenge of the Fallen and then was invested enough in the franchise to watch Dark of the Moon.
So, like a few million people around the world, I was herded like sheep into watching Age of Extinction because I was curious what Bay would come up with, given a brand new cast and premise. It should be noted that my curiosity does not always serve me well.
The quick plot summary: ignoring any memories of Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, gratuitous shots of Megan Fox, and John Turturro’s worst performance of his career, Age of Extinction pits inventor dad Mark Wahlberg, his forgettable bimbo blonde daughter Nicola Peltz and the Autobots against (surprise!) new Transformer enemies, Galvatron and Lockdown.
Stanley Tucci enters the scene at some point as the token corporate baddie who develops a guilty conscience while Sophia Myles does too much of nothing and Li Bingbing captures the attention of the mainland Chinese market. (Seriously, Hollywood, your attempts to win over the Asian markets by creating token Asian characters couldn’t be more obvious.)
Long story short, Age of Extinction was goddamn boring. I’m barely able to piece together 600 words in this review. Of all the words in the world to describe Bay’s films, which range from misogynistic to racist to juvenile, I never thought I’d settle on boring. It was three-hour marathon of fantastic CGI, but combined with incoherent storytelling and a slew of annoying characters that couldn’t be killed off quickly enough.
The Dinobots were at the forefront of the film’s PR campaign, but seemed so underused. In fact, aside from Optimus Prime, none of the Transformers are particularly memorable, and I must’ve missed the introductions because I couldn’t remember a single name from the new team of Autobots.
Age of Extinction isn’t all bad. There’s enough brilliantly rendered CGI and crack-induced action sequences to keep you interested, but after the first hour, you wonder if there’s anything else other than the popcorn sitting in your lap and the $15.99 you spent for the 3D version to keep you in the theatre. Heck, even Bay’s trademark juvenile jokes about bromances, balls, sex and 21st century mating rituals disappeared, perhaps an attempt to keep things a little more subdued.
The cringe-worthy one-liners (“I can’t believe I’m putting my life in your hands!” or “I like to smell fresh when I’m making out with your daughter”) are still there. However, because the film takes itself more seriously than its predecessors (perhaps due to the overall improvement of the cast with the additions of Tucci and Kelsey Grammer) the lines become a little more bearable than Shia LaBeouf squealing “I love it when you say camshaft” to Megan Fox over the phone.
Boring isn’t always bad, though. Too many little things dragged down Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon, when they could’ve been highly entertaining summer flicks – rather than all-out assaults of CGI eye candy and poorly developed plot and characters. Age of Extinction may have received lesser reviews, but at least it doesn’t devolve into a 13-year-old boy’s wet dream, like some of the earlier entries in the series. That being said, it’s much inferior to Days of Future Past, which was briefly the biggest movie of summer 2014. Depending on how you feel about Bay, he has a chance to redeem or further damage his career with the new Ninja Turtles, which will open in August.
What did you think of Transformers: Age of Extinction? Was it simply turn-off-your-brain summer entertainment, or is it the latest affront to cinema from the mind of Michael Bay? Join the discussion in the comments, and if you liked this review, share it with your friends and followers!
About the Author
Jason Chen is a writer who likes sandwiches (hold the mayo), sports, Ninja Turtles, TV and film, although not in that particular order. His work has been featured in blogs and magazines, but prefers some of it to remain buried in the Internet wilderness. Give him a follow on Twitter! More of his articles on movies can be found here.