I’m going to be straight with you. There’s no point in talking about Michael Bay’s directorial style. All the slow-mo shots, all the innuendos that make women look like they’ve just rolled out of a sexy magazine and act like damsels in distresses, the casual racism, glorified music video shots, the endless product placement etc. We all get it. Michael Bay is who he is. Those are his traits and that fact will never change.
Yet as the end credits rolled on Transformers: Age of Extinction, I asked myself this very important question.
Is it too much to ask for a coherent plot that makes sense? Because what I watched, all 2 hours and 45 minutes of it (aka the longest Transformers film to date) was poor. Very poor.
“After all we have done, humans are hunting us. But I fear we are all targets now.” – Optimus Prime
After the events from Transformers: Dark of the Moon and despite their help in the battle, the autobots are in hiding, hunted down by the CIA (led by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer)) and Lockdown, a transformer bounty hunter looking specifically for Optimus Prime for his own agenda. Unknown to Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg), an inventor, he buys a disused truck hoping to repair it for money but later discovers that it’s Optimus Prime in disguise. After being tracked down by the government and their lives threatened, Cade, his teenage daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and Optimus Prime team up to find out why autobots are being hunted and its significance on the human race.
The frustrating thing about Transformers: Age of Extinction is that it has better characters! We no longer have to put up Sam Witwicky or his crazy family. Mark Wahlberg steps in and honestly it is a welcomed addition. When you think about it some more, the additions of Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci are cool too. The story tone is better and the film presents nice ideas on the advancements of technology.
However (and this is a MASSIVE however)…
The film never learns from its past mistakes or criticisms. This film is just an endless double face palm. The story is very clunky and lazily put together. The plot jumps around constantly, plot elements are easily abandoned and scenarios placed in for convenience. And if that wasn’t enough, Bay introduces more and more of everything as if he’s deliberately competing against his previous Transformers film. He’s done big, he’s done loud, so what else can he do? He goes for a long running time packed in with hundreds of never ending action scenes.
This film is beyond stupid. Whether it’s Michael Bay or the powers that be above him, there is no excuse for this. You could have told the same story in HALF the time instead of feeling like I was watching this for ten hours straight.
“What do you think being human means? That’s what we do. We make mistakes. Sometimes, out of those mistakes come the most amazing things… When I fixed you, it was for a reward. That was it. That was why. The money. And it was me making a mistake. Without it, you wouldn’t be here. So even if you got no faith in us, I’m asking you to do what I do. I’m asking you to look at all the junk and see the treasure. You gotta have faith, Prime, in who we can be.” – Cade
The story didn’t need characters like under age Tessa or her boyfriend being a total smart ass quoting BS like the Romeo and Juliet laws. I don’t care about them dating each other or how they conveniently tag along for the ride only to be in more danger. All it does is add to the bloated runtime. The story should have been about Cade, a failed inventor hoping to make a better life for himself and helping Optimus Prime. End of story.
Unlike Pain & Gain where the dark humour was absurd because we were laughing at the criminals rather than with them, Transformers: Age of Extinction does not have any laugh out moments, just characters saying more dumb lines, bordering on the cringe worthy and stereotypical. “How do you say ‘Get the f*ck out the way’ in Chinese?” – that line…I arrest my case. Enough with the wacky characters – just stop trying to be funny. It didn’t work on the first three films so the persistence in the fourth film is pointless.
The human elements, I don’t care about it. The characters are not written well enough to deserve attention. They are fillers and that’s been a constant problem in this entire series. Films like Pacific Rim look like Shakespeare in comparison to this.
People have been crying out for a Transformers film about the robots fighting each other and while the ending gives that hint, like majority of the story, the set up leading to this moment is clunky as well. The film tries to establish that the creators of the Transformers and not a meteor, wiped out the dinosaurs millions of years ago. On instructions from the creators, Lockdown is sent to Earth to track down Prime to bring him back and answer for his crimes for his association with the humans.
The problem with Age of Extinction is why do the robots need human help at all? Lockdown works with the CIA as part of this covert black ops operation but they still go around blowing the crap out of everything as soon as an autobot turns up. Yes the humans want the seed (this year’s McGuffin) but seriously, there was no reason for Lockdown to work with the humans. He could have easily gone about his business. The same goes with Optimus Prime. He’s meant to be a leader but he quotes speeches all the time. The film focuses so much on the human characters with their pointless drama that we never get any real insight or incentive into their backstory or the choices they make. Prime is more of an accessory to the film rather than an actual main character along with Bumblebee who still has a voicebox problem. The autobots are all generic. The dinobots don’t appear for long either so don’t hold your breath on something amazing. They are thrown into the chaos like some last minute add-on.
The humans (figuring out that transformers are made from transformium (shakes head)) build Galvatron using Megatron’s old corpse, figuring if they can utilise their advance technology then we can protect ourselves by building our own controllable transforming robots. It’s funny for two reasons. The previous Transformers films has always been an us vs. them attitude…and we never learn because when has that ever worked out? Where’s the gratitude or acceptance for the autobots for what they’ve done? Four movies in and there’s no advancement in military weaponry except shoot at anything that moves with every weapon you have. Secondly – Megatron/Galvatron – you have stayed true in character in this entire franchise – plot a revenge and then wuss out in the end.
I know what you’re thinking – Transformers is based on a toy, therefore you have to take liberties and it’s aimed at 7 year olds etc. Three words – The Lego Movie. Based off a toy as well. If the makers can write a coherent storyline and keep it on point for young kids and adults, I can’t see any reason why Transformers can’t do the same.
The Transformers films seem to be progressively getting worse as they go on with the first Transformers film still being the best in the series. The reason is because there’s a balance in the script and Bay’s love of over the top action. However, no matter how many slow-mo shots or explosions you throw into a film, it can’t cover up this mess or change the fact how boring Transformers: Age of Extinction is. This film was overloaded with so many things that were completely unnecessary and it’s right up there with the awful Revenge of the Fallen.
I can hope for better things in Transformers 5 but in reality, I can’t be bothered anymore.