Like most fans, I have a strong aversion to the Michael Bay live-action adaptions of the Transformers. I kind of have a soft spot for the first film because, like the director, I didn’t take it too seriously. But the succeeding sequels, Revenge of The Fallen and Dark of the Moon, made me seriously rethink if the franchise was in the right hands. I mean, Revenge of The Fallen was so many levels of bad. Dark of the Moon wasn’t as awful but it was still a stinker.
Nevertheless, I still have a spark of hope that the latest film in the series, Age of Extinction, can redeem Michael Bay. After all, it has Optimus Prime riding Grimlock, right? That looks awesome! How could it be bad?
The short of it all: Yes, it’s bad. Not as bad as Revenge of The Fallen but it’s not better than Dark of the Moon. If you want more details, read on! But I’ll be giving some MINOR SPOILERS that won’t destroy any major plot points. So, turn away if you totally want to watch the film without knowing anything about it (besides it being a bad film).
Anyway, the film is set four years after the events of Dark of the Moon. The Autobots have gone into hiding because of the battle in Chicago laid waste to the city. They are now being hunted down by a special CIA black ops team known as Cemetery Wind headed by Harold Attinger (played by Kelsey Grammar). Meanwhile, Cade Yeager, an inventor barely making ends meet, finds an old cab over trunk. Hoping to salvage it for parts, he purchases the heap not knowing it is actually Optimus Prime. There is also another player working behind the scenes tasked to hunt down Optimus Prime.
I have to admit they had a lot of balls to totally revamp the entire cast! Sam Witwicky and company are nowhere to be seen here! They replaced them all with a bunch of new characters… which should’ve been a good thing.
Unfortunately, just like in the previous films, Michael Bay chooses to focus on the humans instead of the robots, which is something fans really hate about the live action Transformers films! The storyline of the Autobots is actually very interesting this time around! They’ve been betrayed by the humans, who they’ve been protecting! Most of the previous Autobots have been killed off and destroyed and Prime is seriously contemplating leaving the Earth to find a new world.
But instead of telling their story, we’re stuck with watching the Yeager family’s problems. Cade has financial problems and is in danger of losing the house. His daughter Tessa (played by Nicola Peltz AKA Katara from the lousy live action adaption of The Last Airbender) is keeping her race car driver boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor), a secret from her father… Wait! Why should I care? The Autobots are thinking of abandoning Earth! And you’re saying I should care about their petty problems?
It doesn’t help that the acting pretty much sucks. The performances of the human actors are pretty flat overall. All Nicola Peltz does look pretty but doesn’t really show any acting range. Same goes for her “boyfriend” Shane. Even Kelsey Grammar, who usually pulls off great performances fairs poorly in Age of Extinction. Mark Wahlberg has some good moments but most of the time, he seems to slip back to his time in The Happening and forgets how to act well.
The only bright spots would have to be Titus Welliver (AKA Agent Felix Blake from Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) as James Savoy, the leader of Cemetery Wind’s ground team and TJ Miller as Lucas, Cade’s best friend from high school. The reason why they do well in their roles is because they’ve been playing those kinds of roles (Welliver as a hard nosed government agent and Miller as a lazy slacker) very often.
The movie, with a run time of 165 minutes (2 hours and 45 minutes!) also doesn’t flow together well. It’s like they wrote the script based on a checklist they had to fill out! In one scene, they’d be in a rural town. Then, in the next scene, Cade and the Autobots will try to infiltrate a highly secure building. Oh, sure they’ll insert some reason why they need to do it but this kept on happening throughout the entire film! Some of the humans would do things out of character if the script would call for it! It made the film look like a mishmash of different scripts hastily sewn together to create this Frankenstein-like abomination!
On the plus side, I do have to say the action scenes are pretty well done this time. There’s a lot more carnage and the fight scenes between the Transformers are easier to follow this time around. The driving stunts are very well done. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Michael Bay movie without huge explosions and wanton destruction and this film has it in spades! When the action scenes are on screen, it’s hard to look away because they are stunning!
Another good thing about the film is they shifted their focus to Optimus Prime instead of Bumblebee as the main Autobot. While Bumblebee was kind of endearing as a character since he couldn’t talk and had to use radio recordings to communicate, it did wear thin after 3 films. Peter Cullen reprises his role as Prime once again and I’m so glad that he was joined by fellow Transformer alum Frank Welker who voices Galvatron this time around!
Speaking of which, they way they introduced Galvatron is pretty nifty. Seeing as he was decapitated by Prime in Dark of the Moon, it would be very difficult to explain Megatron’s reappearance. Well, the writers actually did a very creative way of bringing back the character as Galvatron. It’s pretty ingenious, to be honest. It’s a shame that he doesn’t do that much in the film.
If I were to rank all of the live-action Transformers films, Age of Extinction is my 2nd least favorite movie in the series, with Revenge of The Fallen being the worst of the lot. I really wanted to like this movie more but, once again, Michael Bay refuses to make a Transformers movie that’s focused on the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Maybe next time he’ll do better. Because you know this movie is going to be big at the box-office and a fifth film will be greenlit. And you know Michael Bay will be back at the helm to direct it.
God help us all.
Have you watched Age of Extinction? How would you rank in among the other live action Transformers films? Whatever your thoughts on the matter, please leave them in the comments section below!