Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Transformers Age of Extinction Poster.jpeg
Jurassic Snark

Director: Michael Bay
Running Time: 165 minutes
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci

Michael Bay's Transformers franchise has always struggled critically, but doesn't seem to struggle at all when it comes to its financial earnings. It is one of the most profitable franchises out there, so no matter what is said in this review, it won't deter people from checking out the latest Giant Robot Fighting Film.

Four years after the Autobots and the Deceptions had a massive battle which destroyed Chicago (never mind that Decepticons were all over the world in that climax), the government is hunting down all Transformers, with a Transformer bounty hunter. When an inventor finds Optimus Prime, he, his daughter and her boyfriend get pulled into a journey to stop the bounty hunter.

One of the biggest problems with the previous Transformers films was the weak human characters, particularly the uninteresting lead and the cartoonish supporting characters. While the likes of Shia LaBeouf and John Tuturro are no longer here, they've been replaced by a lead that's just as uninteresting and supporting characters who are just as cartoonish.

Mark Wahlberg plays the embarrassingly named Cade Yaeger, who insists on not selling his farm and collecting junk in order to hopefully invent something that will result in big money to send his daughter to college. Yep, this is more preferable than selling the farm, getting a cheaper place and an actual job in order to save money and send his daughter to college.

The problems between Cade and Tessa, his daughter played by Nicola Peltz, are the typically cliché "Father doesn't want Daughter to date", and is handled in a manner akin to a soap opera. Not that it stops Tessa from having a secret boyfriend, blandly played by Jack Reynor, or does it stop her from acting like little more than the helpless damsel and an annoyance, even resorting to whining while in the midst of a life or death situation.

Ever get the feeling he's overcompensating?

Stanley Tucci and T.J Miller fill the cartoonish supporting characters quota, with the former being an eccentric version of Steve Jobs and the latter playing the annoying best friend, while both delivering the traditional poor attempts at humor. The new additions to the Autobots are forgettable and only there to sell toys, while new villain Lockdown hits the cool factor by having a gun for a face, but leaves little more of an impression.

For the past three films, the Autobots have been defenders of the humans, being a likable bunch who give their lives in order to protect humanity from the threats of the Decepticons. Surely that's how they'll be portrayed in the fourth installment, right? Wrong. The Autobots are turned into an unlikable bunch, as they needlessly fight with one another, Bumblebee acts like a hothead at a time when meant to be incognito, and bizarrely, Optimus Prime yells at humans how he'll kill them.

One fact about this franchise is that nobody watches this to analyse the dialogue, but you cannot help but notice lines as awful as "I know you have a conscience, because you're an inventor like me" and "when you look to the stars, think of one of them as my soul". Ehren Kruger's script makes no attempts to include logic either, with many gaping plot holes left wide open, like how Optimus Prime managed to hide underneath a barn, and various conveniences, like Tessa's boyfriend turning out to be a race car driver and appearing in time for a car chase.

The most publicized addition to this film is definitely the Dinobots, who are fan favourites to those who watched the original cartoons. Unfortunately, it seems that their inclusion into the film was merely for the image of Optimus Prime riding Grimlock, as they add little to the overall film in their 15 minutes of screentime. Another addition is a new part of the mythology, a material from which the Transformers are made of. Lazily named Transforium, it can transform from anything into anything, and feels as much like a needless addition as the Transformers bleeding, or Autobot Heaven.

The biggest problem with this film is how long it is. At 2 hours 45 minutes, it is the longest Transformers film to date, and there is nothing to justify this running time. Nothing is exciting or memorable to make you glad for the extra time, nothing needed more time in order to be properly developed. All that happens is your patience gets majorly tested, especially how the final battle feels too familiar to Dark of the Moon's final battle, only in Hong Kong.

The plot for Transformers: Age of Extinction is an interesting one full of potential. The problem is that the potential is wasted to deliver the traditional Michael Bay fare, in visuals of giant effects hitting each other for an overlong running time, coupled with needless explosions and unlikable and annoying characters.