Film Review | Transformers: Age of Extinction
Picking up four years after the Battle of Chicago in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction sees amateur robotics inventor Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) discovering Optimus Prime (voiced superbly once more by Peter Cullen) while searching for junk to refurbish. The gravely wounded Autobot commander has been in hiding from a covert black ops team led by Harold Attlinger (Kelsey Grammer), who has teamed up with Cybertronian bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) in a bid to destroy all shape-shifting robots. Meanwhile, tech tycoon and billionaire inventor Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) is busy reverse-engineering his own Transformers with a view to having an army of robots under human control.
Check out my video review here, or continue reading for some written thoughts.
If that was all the story Age of Extinction was concerned with, the final product would not only be mercifully shorter – at 165 minutes, it’s the longest instalment of the series – it would make for a much better watch. Ehren Kruger’s exposition-heavy script introduces several new characters and ideas all the way up to the final act, and though some of those new ideas are genuinely fresh and interesting, there are also superfluous subplots, like the romance between Cade’s daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and race-car driver Shane (Jack Reynor), that we have to struggle through. Simply put, Age of Extinctionhas far too many moving parts, and the erratic editing – which is particularly irritating in the film’s final act – only highlights the issue.
That’s not to say that there is nothing of value in the needlessly convoluted plot. New information on the Transformers’ backstory is genuinely game-changing, and for the first time in the franchise, the war between the Autobots and Decepticons isn’t the primary focus. In its place is a darker storyline which puts the hostility between the Transformers and the humans front and centre. To that end the added focus on Optimus Prime pays dividends, with the Autobot leader beginning to doubt his faith in humanity. Unfortunately, after a promising opening act the plot unfolds in fits and starts, frequently interrupted by Bay’s extravagant action set-pieces, and with lack of connective tissue comes lack of coherence.
It should surprise no one that there is both a high level and a high quota of Bayhem on offer. Car chases, city-levelling fights and lots and lots of explosions are all crisply rendered by ILM, and at its best Age of Extinction makes for a fun, if at times overwhelming cinematic experience. A new visualisation of transforming is also innovative, and though the heavily advertised Dinobots screen time is scarce and purists will be disappointed that they remain nameless, their introduction is a spectacular high point.
The Dinobots aren’t the only new Transformers making their way into the franchise. As Hound, Drift and Crosshairs, voiced by John Goodman, Ken Watanabe and John DiMaggio, respectively, all get to showcase their ‘bots personalities and there is veritable chemistry between the new Autobots. Lockdown is another positive, a chilling entrance establishing him as a worthy threat. As for the humans Wahlberg and Tucci are as energetic and enjoyable as ever despite the poor dialogue they’re saddled with, whilst Grammer is pitch perfect as the villainous Attlinger.
Though there are some aspects of Transformers: Age of Extinction that are a step in the right direction for the franchise, familiar problems mean it will do little to change the minds of naysayers. As a visual showcase, however, Bay’s blockbuster delivers.
This review was originally published at HeyUGuys.