Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

Optimus-Prime-Transformers-4-header Ok, guys. Up front I am the biggest Transformers fan on staff. Though I’m not one of those people that says they are a huge fan but goes on about how dumb Beast Wars is and can’t actually name all the Dinobots. I love Beast Wars because the writing turned into something amazing. I know all the names and I know that die cast metal is a bad thing because it makes toys break. I have friends in the industry that currently or have in the past designed the toys you see on the shelves. In fact, shameless plug, I was just featured in LA Weekly for my appearance at Botcon selling my custom figures. So yeah, I’m a giant Transformers nerd. All that said I kinda really hate this movie. Did I enjoy the random action? Sure, of course I did. I laughed at some jokes and cheered a bit when awesome things happened. But between those moments we were stuck with a movie that was two effing hours and fortyfive damn minutes long. All of that time was wasted as there was no reasonable sense of story telling or any real explanations of rather important things.

So what is this movie about? Who cares, really? You have Mark Wahlberg as an inventor/joke that has a 17 year old daughter that is played up as the eye candy… which is creepy, right? But she’s also a stick with no features to display other than having tiny shorts so I guess they get away with that. In fact as a straight man I would have to say her boyfriend was the more attractive one and since he was on screen most of the time I guess that makes up for that… or something. Ugh, I’m trying to talk about the human characters but it’s difficult, guys. At no point do you honestly care about them. One dies pretty early on and you don’t really care. Markie Mark won’t let his daughter date AT ALL and it’s obnoxious and you just kinda dislike him. The inventor angle is eventually forgotten and you have even less reason to care about him. But oh! Kelsey Grammer is the bad guy with weird motivations that get down right nonexistent by the end of the film. Seriously, I have no idea what his deal was after a couple of hours when all his plans were gone and he was just running around being a douche.

Alright look, there’s very very little plot in this movie so I’ve not going to discuss any of it so as to not spoil it for anyone crazy enough to go see it after I’ve written this. So let me talk about what I did like for a moment.

The robots are all very distinct. No more complaints about not telling robots apart. Very distinct body shapes and colors make it clear who is who throughout the film. All of the Autobots also have very distinct personalities. Good, right? Well… I'll touch on that in a second. Anywho, the action scenes look fun and loud as usual. There are some jokes I laughed and some things I laughed at that weren’t jokes. There was a lack of US military which was a welcome break. Also a lack of terrible humor that Bay is known for with these movies. In that regard it is the least embarrassing of the franchise. Oh, and Hound. He was John Goodman having fun with a voice over role and it showed. Everyone will leave this movie loving Hound. Though fans may say he fits Bulkhead a lot better but that picking nits.

What did I hate? Well the effects were randomly not good. I saw it in 3D and I did so because the last film was very good in 3D. With this we had oddly flat explosions, really fake looking robots and that pixel-forming effect in the trailer looked SUPER fake. That effect was almost neat but it was never used to really accomplish anything and the way it worked was by rebuilding the form like a wire frame in the video game and each polygon would be filled in. Thank god only the bad guys did this. Not that it mattered because you RARELY saw the Autobots actually transform. In fact most of the time they just showed up in which ever form they needed.

In reference to transforming, the autobot Drift, the Bugatti, was also a helicopter. This was never explained nor did we ever actually see him change to or from his Bugatti mode. That car was simply there sometimes when he wasn’t. We also never hear his name out loud though it appears on the screen. This leads me to the lack of real characterization. Drift is a former Decepticon. You would never know this because it’s never even hinted at in the film. You also might not know he’s a Bugatti as you only actually see the helicopter transformation. Now the Autobots do have distinct personalities but they are almost all versions of “dickhead”. It’s not really fun to watch them be assholes to everyone around them including each other. Optimus has a tendency to yell, “I will kill you!” at everyone. Even humans. Hell, Hound randomly kills a creature for spitting at him and calls it, “Bitch.” Very off putting. And Bumblebee may as well just talk now. The radio sounds are now just actors speaking for him. It makes no damn sense.

Speaking of making no sense the plot was… crap. The first 20 minutes felt very schizo with scenes jumping between plot threads that never mesh into a plot that feels like anything more than threads. Though, once again, the Earth is the center of all alien activity and we have yet another origin for the Transformers kinda. Oh, and Knights. The villain, Lockdown, captures things and locks them in his ship. He wants Optimus. Why? Turns out Optimus is a Knight. What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine as it is never explained. He’s put in a cell upside down in a room with other Knights being treated the same way. The Knights never speak. Ever. Eventually this room, which is on an escape pod, is taken by the Autobots and kept for a while. The Knights are left hanging… until Optimus needs them for something and frees them and makes them work for him under penalty of death. They transform and run around kicking ass. The Knights never speak, we barely see them in robot mode and in the end they are never even given so much as names let alone a reason for why they exist. Have you figured out that the Knights are the Dinobots shown in the trailers? They are never called that. Hell, they stop calling them Knights as soon as they are freed. Optimus makes a comment about, “The legends are true,” and they move on. Giant monsters fighting just because.

This movie sucks. Almost three hours long and they couldn’t bother to effing explain ANYTHING!!! It looks pretty most of the time and it made me chuckle but for the most part I was just bored and by the end I was annoyed because the trailers are almost entirely made from the last 30 minutes of the mess. Did I mention it was LOOOOOOOONG. No reason for that, folks. There was a scene with an elevator door that remained open on its own for at least five minutes. Why did this happen? How do you make a movie this long using a property with a very extensive bit of lore to dip into and still somehow come out with this hollow pile of CG and explosions that have no real reason to exist?!

If you go to the movies this weekend go see something else. Edge of Tomorrow or 22 Jump Street. Good movies await you. Transformers: Age of Extinction is not one of them.

PS: I just checked out a bit of Revenge of the Fallen. It's still a piece of garbage but at least it isn't boring and had a good score that could keep you semi invested. So yeah... TF4 is by far the worst. Even worse than the one that didn't have a script.

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