Reviews

Transformers: Age of Extinction

3

Unoriginality, roll out!

“I think history is about to change,” intones Sophia Myles’ geologist.

History may be in for a shake-up, not to mention the cast and settings for Michael Bay’s fourth Transformers outing.

But by the final hour of this 165-minute clockbuster you’ll be feeling an overwhelming sense of familiarity – as its director’s brand of “textbook machismo”, to quote Ehren Kruger’s script, batters your brain into submission.

“Remember Chicago” blares a billboard, reminding us of the Windy City’s destruction in the finale of Bay’s third outing Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Rest assured, there’s no need: the equally protracted conclusion to this latest episode feels like a carbon copy, albeit set in a vibrantly-shot Hong Kong, as the most expensive episode of Robot Wars ever made plays out in glorious IMAX 3D.

Still, Transformers: Age of Extinction does tread fresh ground, with Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky and his family airbrushed out the saga. Replacing him is Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a cash-strapped inventor struggling to raise his 17 year-old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz); their tender relationship, defined by his over-protective demeanour, gives the film the heart lacking from the LaBeouf years.

Then there’s Kelsey Grammer’s government suit Harold Attinger, out to hunt down the Autobots – in hiding following the events in Chicago – with the help of a bounty-hunting Transformer Lockdown, out to capture their leader Optimus Prime. Also present, Stanley Tucci’s high-flying Bill Gates-alike Joshua Joyce, out to replicate the Transformers’ metal-morphing skills, with the help of Myles’ boffin. Hell, there’s even a subplot set 65m years ago. 

It transpires that Optimus Prime (commandingly voiced again by Peter Cullen) has been cooling his heels as a rusty old truck – discovered by Cade, who intends to strip it for parts. But no sooner has Prime revealed himself, then the CIA are on the case and Cade and Tessa are on the run, aided by her until-now secret Irish boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor), who conveniently happens to be a top-notch race car driver.

As Prime hooks up with the other remaining Autobots, it’s an eminently watchable first act. But as this group of robotic outlaws and their human allies discover that Joyce’s conglomerate KSI has been building man-made Transformers (leading to one fantastic scrap between Prime and prototype droids Galvatron and Stinger), Bay reverts disappointingly to type, with the soft-rock slo-mo montages and excessive product placement notably grating.

Also weighed down by an indulgent running time and tedious/meaningless scenes of endless carnage, thankfully the human element stays strong, with Wahlberg and the excellent Tucci, in particular, keeping you watching. A pity John Goodman (voicing cigar-chomping Autobot Hound) lazily recycles his Monuments Men character.

But then originality has never been high on Bay’s list of requirements.

Verdict:

After a promising start, thanks to Wahlberg and his funky bunch, Age Of Extinction transforms into a typically bombastic Bay offering. If it’s major-league spectacle you want, though, look no further.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • apo1978

      Jul 1st 2014, 14:55

      Wow, this is the best review I've seen of this. Don't care if its naff - Optimus Prime was my hero as a kid so its my duty to watch this.

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    • Ali1748

      Jul 1st 2014, 17:32

      16% on Rotten Tomatoes LMAO.

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    • moviemind91

      Jul 2nd 2014, 7:05

      I usually try to avoid films that have a rating lower than 20 % on Rotten Tomatoes but I think this will be an exception. It seems to have better human characters and that shot of of Optimus Prime on top of a Dinobot looks pretty awesome!

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    • endofdays2

      Jul 2nd 2014, 9:42

      The Dinobots that are allegedly not in it for very long...

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    • Seedorf

      Jul 3rd 2014, 10:02

      Just wow, Michael Bay. After three previous attempts at making a Transformers film, I would have thought come the 4th, you might actually be able to make a half decent film. Turns out, you're going in the opposite direction; and to think there are going to be another two of these. At this rate, Michael Bay, come the end of your Transformers franchise, you're going to make George Lucas look like a quality director.

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    • QuietLife

      Jul 3rd 2014, 13:37

      And Uwe Boll...

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    • jaykays hat

      Jul 3rd 2014, 14:00

      I will go and see this but if Michael Bay mugs me off again like he has with the last two then that's it. I will never watch another Bay film again...........unless it's Transformers 1 & Bad Boys 2, Armageddon & the Rock.......oh and the new Turtles film.

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    • matthewbrady

      Jul 5th 2014, 13:07

      1

      This movie has terrible looking visual effect's and the characters are forgettable as always. The only good thing in this movie is Optimus prime and Mark Wahlberg, but anything else is c**p.

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    • joegilmartin

      Jul 8th 2014, 1:25

      1

      I think the most shocking thing about this film is that I'm somehow surprised how bad it is. I loved transformers as a kid and would still argue that the movie is one of the best anime movies out there! To be honest I should be surprised as Michael Bay has made a good movie for decades. Pain and Gain came close to being a good movie but it still lacked any depth in character or decent storytelling. Instead Bay seems to just take over the top unrealistic characters and stick them in over the top unrealistic situations and expect us to somehow believe them. Bay has manage to create this great career from 3 good movie and has copied and pasted since (The Rock, Bad Boys and Armageddon). This however is his coup d'état, possible his least watchable film ever. The film is long winded and drags for 2 1/2 hours. The story is just dull and lifeless and even the Dinobots can't rescue it's, especially as in this blotted film they have NO dialogue! I think like George Lucas, Bat needs to stick to producing and leave direct to those who actually have a story rather than want to just blow s**t up! And rant over.....

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    • jaykays hat

      Jul 14th 2014, 6:36

      I went in expecting massive explosions, massive robots and not much else, I wasn't disappointed. Much better than the last two films and I'm glad it didn't have the Witwicky family and it could have been 20-30 minutes shorter. I don't agree with matthewbrady, I thought the visuals were superb. I saw the 2D version so I can't comment on the 3D effects. Overall it does exactly what it says on the tin.

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    • Jareth64

      Jul 14th 2014, 11:33

      1

      A heaving pile of s**t of a film. Boring, tedious, and laughable.

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    • apo1978

      Jul 18th 2014, 12:39

      4

      First off, with my critic hat on, this is another mindless blockbuster that pretends to be a fresh start for the franchise. It starts off pretty well actually but, after an hour in, starts to lose its way amongst all the archetypal Michael Bay bombast-cocktail of explosions, shouting, cheesy dialogue and pacing/editing issues. The new cast, headed by Mark Wahlberg are likeable – for the most part - and much of the puerile humour has thankfully gone. The special effects are amazing as always (apart from the nano-cubes, which look extremely poor…very odd!) and the action scenes are done well and easier to follow than the previous instalments. That said, if you didn’t like the previous films then you won’t like this. It just scrapes a 3 star or 6/10 rating. Right, now shut up me! ROBOTS woooooo! BANG BANG, frickin’ awesome! Did you see that?!??! His head got proper punched in then! DINOBOTS??? HELL YEAH!!! Yes, a Lambo Aventador! Zoooom!!! Oooh a BUGATTI VEYRON, get in!!!! Bit of talking…getting bored now….Zzzz…..BOOOOOM!!! Yes we’re back to robots being nasty to each other!!! WOW THE 993rd EXPLOSION WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE 992nd!!! Just falls short of full marks and gets a 9/10 rating. To summarise, it’s not a great film…but I had great fun watching!

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    • StrapMouse

      Oct 11th 2014, 15:24

      5

      People love to hate Michael Bay, everything about him they rip from his use of explosions, lens flares, lengthy action, apparent “porno” shots and bad humour. Over his lengthy career he’s created giant action flicks from The Rock, Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys to The Island, all of which are so distinctive in style you know it’s a Bay flick immediately. This man isn’t changing his ways. He doesn’t need to. People see his films, they make a ton of money, and no matter how bitter the reviews are haters go and see them. The first Transformers opening to mixed reviews yet it raked in just under $500,000,000. The second film was critically panned, yet that took in short of $900,000,000, and by this time people really hated Bay after this film. Then came Dark Of The Moon, the third film that took in a whopping $1.1 billion, sounds crazy right? You can see where I’m going with this. Now Age Of Extinction has scored the biggest opening for a film in 2014 from it’s Thursday preview and the Friday following, overtaking films like Godzilla and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. This fourth installment is the longest and has been the worst reviewed; yet the box office numbers are outstanding. Michael Bay must be pleased, and rightfully so. Screw the critics, this is Bay’s middle finger to them and rightfully so, I think critics are genuinely taking it personally and simply ripping Transformers for the fun of it. It’s common sense, if you don’t like it don’t see it, yet people just can’t afford miss it no matter how they feel about it. Now I’ve seen it after a three-year wait and was it worth it? Abso-f*****g-lutely, Michael Bay you are a legend! Transformers Age Of Extinction is heart pounding jaw dropping, head spinning blockbusting entertainment, the series has hit an all-time high and is the best film of 2014 so far, simply put it’s 165 minutes of breathless action and top storytelling. In Age Of Extinction, a new era has begun: The age of the Transformers. They are being hunted after the destruction of Chicago, and now humans have developed Transformers of their own using “Transformium” in order to take them down, as well as making a deal with Lockdown, a bounty hunter who will stop at nothing to get the job done. When struggling inventor Cade Yeager unknowingly stumbles upon Optimus Prime in hiding, Yeager, his daughter Tessa and her boyfriend Shane become fugitives when they decide to harbor Optimus, setting off a string of events that could lead up to our extinction. New characters, new threats, a darker tone and an even bigger scope, I never thought Bay could top Dark Of The Moon but he has gone far and beyond venturing into new and exciting territories. It’s great seeing humans taking sides with evil robotic forces, there’s a sense of uncertainty surrounding trust and promise, any sides could turn on one another and even the baddies, and watching the humans control an unstable metal of which the Transformers are made of sets up some exciting scenes, although they could’ve thought of a more inventive name instead of “Transformium”. I was ecstatic that the story took us back to Chicago five years after the attack, seeing the city back to normal was cool, and also a set-up for more hell to reign down on the city. I particularly enjoyed all the scenes revolving around Cade and Tessa Yeager, the former struggling to keep his inventing business going despite him being on the brink of bankruptcy, and the latter desperate to go to college but can’t leave her Dad behind. It’s a highly believable Father Daughter relationship, and throwing a boyfriend into the mix for Tessa ignites some fun tension and conflict. Mark Wahlberg once again proves himself to be a top action movie star, he has a ton of energy as Cade, dashing around the screen discovering the truck he has found is actually something very special, and furthermore taking a stand in the action scenes as he gets hold of a alien weapon and dishes out the pain, Wahlberg handles emotion superbly as well as intensity and shows his comedy chops throughout, some of his one liners are awesome “Sweetie, hand me my alien gun!” Nicola Peltz is excellent, I’ve never seen such dramatic flair from such a young actress, you can tell she’s having real fun playing Tessa Yeager, playing the grown up in her family situation. As well as Wahlberg her ability to make you laugh and feel terror leaves an impression and yet again, has some top lines “Dad, there’s a missile in the family room!”. Jack Reynor is awesome, bringing Irish charm as racer Shane and Tessa’s secret boyfriend. Reynor speeds into the movie about forty minutes in and he already boasts presence, and is the most entertaining of the lot, especially in the scene where he has to get past a security gate and gets really nervous. Stanley Tucci is outstanding, playful and suitably menacing, and his “Oh my God!” scream is the best I’ve heard in a movie, and Kelsey Grammer is marvelous as the evil opposition for the protagonists, plus Titus Welliver is a kick-a*s operative, he’s a severely underated actor of huge talent. T.J. Miller brings his quirky comedy charm to the mix as Cade’s assistant and Miller plays the part very well. Li BingBing is fierce and effortlessly cool as Su Yeming, an assistant to Tucci’s Joshua Joyce, she’s a strong female lead who doesn’t take any c**p from her arrogant boss, as well as the beautiful Sophia Myles who I haven’t seen in a movie in ages, Myles is a welcome addition to the cast, bringing wit, style and big laughs to this massive international cast. Michael Bay’s direction is truly stupendous, his camerawork is getting better and better with more prolonged shots that allow you to take in the sprawling landscape that’s filled with either stunning cityscapes or destruction. His slow motion continues to amaze to the point of complete and utter awe, and he gives his characters such dominating authority with the use of his low angles shot looking up to them. He handles the comedy so much smoother this time around; the laughs are consistent and well fitted even amongst chaotic action. And also, no one does explosions better than this guy, in this fourth installment the fireballs and sparks are so big it’s gob smacking. Michael Bay ensures you get your money’s worth. Industrial Light & Magic have yet again outdone themselves, the detail, colour and visual splendor is magnificent, it’s hard to comprehend how long it must’ve taken to render the magic that goes on in this film but let me say that it’s paid of tremendously. The action is just, wow. Words cannot even get close to describing the might, enormity and power of the action sequences that take place in this huge adventure. I need to emphasize how eerie and blood pumping it is to hear the build up of Imagine Dragon’s Battle Cry work it’s way into the early action scenes before unfolding the full song in the final fight between Optimus and Lockdown, and when the fight starts I think people started clapping whilst I was shouting yes! The assault on Cade’s farmhouse in Texas was explosive, watching Optimus roll out and take out the government ops, followed by the thrilling car chase that ends with one of the best explosions in movie history where Shane, Tessa and Cade run as Lockdown’s bomb detonates throwing dirt, sparks and debris sky high all in beautiful slow motion. It doesn’t end there, the highway chase sees Optimus and Bumblebee leap over a bridge, crash through a lorry in glorious slow-mo right before Lockdown emerges through the dust with his ship in Texas taking Optimus hostage, leading to one hell of a showdown in Chicago that takes place inside Lockdown’s ship and on top of high-rise wires where the meaning of gravity-defying is defined. Leap to China, the humans battle it out on rooftops punching the s**t out of each other, sliding down apartment buildings and dashing through a warzone filled with tumbling cars, collapsing structures, epic sword fights and terrifying stunts. Then the Dino-bots roll in, how the hell can someone not enjoy watching Optimus Prime leap onto Grimlock taking charge with a sword riding into battle alongside three other Dino-bots trashing China and all it’s high-rise splendor? The shot of the Dino-bots running on the bridge is ILM at their very best, as well as Lockdown’s ship sucking up metal and dropping boats! And of course the finale with Cade, Tessa, Shane, Bumblebee and Optimus tops it all off spectacularly, I don’t think I’ve ever been this enthralled and blown away by action, and the 3D is out of this world, better than Avatar and even Gravity as it’s so close and in your face I leapt in my seat a few times, the depth is monumental and when Bumblebee takes flight in Chicago on the enemy gun ships and launches a boat mid-air to take enemies out the effect it has on you is crazy. Transformers Age Of Extinction has to be seen on the big screen in 3D, it is a whopping cinematic experience, and no doubt I’ll see it a few more times in the cinema. It’s the fresh revamp I was expecting taking a new direction and totally knocking my expectations out the water, this is the best of the franchise and now let’s see if the fifth entry will top this.

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