Movie Review

Transformers: Age of Extinction

"Stand together or face extinction."
(5)
Transformers: Age of Extinction Movie Poster

US Release Date: 06/27/2014

Directed by:Michael Bay

Starring

Average Stars:
:
Reviewed on: June 30th, 2014
Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor in Transformers: Age of Extinction

Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor in Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction is long, loud and loaded with distracting product placement. The plot involving shady government types and an interstellar bounty hunter is not even worth going into. Anyone who enjoys this type of film is not really interested in a decent story anyway.

Boston born Mark Wahlberg plays Texan, Cade Yeager, who lives in the middle of nowhere Texas and considers himself an expert in robotics and all things techy. He lives with his 17 year old daughter, Tessa, who looks more like a New York model than a country girl. She is dating fellow Texan, Shane, played by Irishman Jack Reynor. Yeah, the casting is just one of many flaws. Not only does Wahlberg not even attempt a Texas accent but his muscular build seems more fitting to a Navy Seal than a computer nerd.

Anyhoo, Yeager buys an old semi-truck for its parts, but low and behold it turns out to be Optimus Prime in hiding from a secret government agency who is hunting all Autobots and Decepticons. When they show up, the three humans find themselves on the run with Optimus. They meet up with the other Autobots and end up engaging in battle after battle with homemade Transformers as well as giant alien robots.

Patrick and I had a brief conversation about Godzilla, where he wished the giant lizard had more screen time, while I pointed out that lengthy CGI battles would be boring. This movie proves my point. The action comes so often and spontaneous that I became numb to it. Countless gigantic metallic creatures get blasted and destroyed as do endless amounts of buildings and vehicles, over and over again. At 165 minutes, I started to wonder when the hell this movie was going to end and which of these battles was going to be the last.

I enjoyed the awkwardness of Sam Witwicky and laughed at how his parents endlessly embarrassed him in the first three films in the series, but I cared not about what happened to these lug nuts. At first Cade and Shane butt heads as Cade did not know that his 17 year old daughter was dating a 20 year old. For his defense, Shane pulls out some card he carries in his wallet that explains a Texas “Romeo and Juliet” statute that supposedly states he can have sex with a minor if they began doing it when they were both minors. Hmm, let’s do the math, when Shane was 17, Tessa would have been 14. How in the hell does Shane think that argument is going to endear him to Cade?

I saw this film with a 20, 18 and 10 year old boy who all said they enjoyed this film as we left the theater. Perhaps I am not this movies target audience, or perhaps I am too picky in expecting a movie to have decent characters and a plot that makes some amount of sense. If you are a young male you may find this an entertaining science fiction action movie, while I merely think of it as a rambunctious mess. 

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Reviewed on: July 5th, 2014
Optimus Prime in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Optimus Prime in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The lack of Texan accents didn't bother me as much as Nicola Pletz's fake tan. Her near orange skin was a distraction every time her face appeared on screen no matter how hot she is. I do wonder why they bothered setting it in Texas though. Why not just locate the farm in the Midwest since so much of the action takes place in Chicago anyway?

Perhaps the real reason the accents don't matter though is that the film's target audience won't notice the difference because English won't be their first language. In the new global movie market reality, a blockbuster of this sort is likely to earn most of its money from overseas tickets sales. It's no accident that the finale of this film takes place in China and that the Chinese come off looking pretty good. The American CIA is shown to be evil, while the Chinese government rushes to the aid of its citizens. I can think of no better symbol of this new reality than the image of Transformers battling in Hong Kong against the backdrop of a never ending stream of product placement in the form of billboards in almost every scene. So far the film has earned $432,948 million and $284 million of that has come from overseas.

The fallout from this shift to marketing to foreign audiences is that movies aimed at a universal audience tend to be aimed at the lowest common denominator. Subtle comedy and low key drama doesn't translate as easily as big budget, mindless action and special effects. This movie is perfect in that sense. It's so simple and the plot is so unimportant that it doesn't matter what country you watch it in or what language you hear it in. Not since the silent slapstick comedies of the 1920s has a movie been so easily translatable.

Not being a fan of any of the earlier Transformer films, I had zero expectations for this one. Given that the only good thing going for them are the special effects, I made sure to see this one in Imax 3-D. Seeing it this way actually helped. The chest thumping sound and eye-popping CGI produce some fantastic eye candy. However, as Eric pointed out, this movie and the battle scenes never seem to end. I had my fill of the action before it was even half over. Seeing Optimus Prime riding a dinosaur Transformer is pretty cool, but it takes over two and a half hours to get to that point. Michael Bay clearly doesn't realize that there can be too much of a good thing and there's three different climaxes in this story. Editing out at least an hour of the mindless action would have made me appreciate the special effects more and might have resulted in me awarding it a 1/2 star more.

Eric didn't care about Cade, but I did. At least at first. The first 30 minutes or so set up a nice family situation, but the further the film goes along the more superflous their inclusion in the story becomes. And while the relationship between Cade and his daughter is nice, Jack Reynor as Shane adds nothing to the plot. I would rather they'd expanded TJ Miller's screentime instead. The comedy relief he provides as Cade's business partner would have been welcome in the film's later portions.

The amount of money this one is raking in around the world pretty much guarantees another sequel. Personally I'd be fine if I never had to sit through another nearly 3 hour toy commercial ever again, but clearly that's a minority opinion.

Did you enjoy Scott's review? Give this review a thumbs up. +7

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Reviewed on: January 7th, 2015
More cartoon than movie.

More cartoon than movie.

I enjoyed the first two Transformers but in my review for the third film I wrote, “I hope they leave it as a trilogy so I never again have to sit through another battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.” No such luck as these movies keep hauling in cash by the boatload. However, having wasted 2 hours and 45 minutes of my life watching this bloated CGI orgy, you'll have to excuse me if I have very little to say about it.

The cast is game although just about anyone could play these roles. The only performance of note is the one given by Stanley Tucci – an underrated actor who elevates many movies with his versatile presence. I've never been a fan of Mark Wahlberg and this movie did nothing to change that. The dialogue is all insipid and cliched anyway, as is the ridiculous plot.

In small doses The Transformers are actually entertaining but Michael Bay seems to think he's the David Lean of over-the-top action movies. Although I still think Godzilla would have been better if the giant lizard had been given more screen time I do see Eric's point. The action scenes are like neon coloring books hopped up on steroids that just go on and on and on, with each new scene trying desperately to top the last.

I know that as long as these movies keep making such an absurd amount of money around the globe they will continue to be churned out by Hollywood. So my wish for the Transformers to actually become extinct will probably never come to pass. My only resort then, is to beg my brothers not to review any future cinematic garbage with Transformers in the title. It isn't like anyone who goes to see these movies gives a shit about the reviews anyway.

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