Movie Reviews

Published on June 27th, 2014 | by gareth

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Transformers: Age of Extinction

Director Michael Bay and the shape shifting Transfomers are back in a new cinematic adventure, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” which continues Bay’s fondness for over the top pyrotechnics, action, and chases.

It has been five years since the Autobots and Decepticons waged war in Chicago and in the aftermath, the U.S. government has ended working with the Autobots and has begun hunting down their enemies that are still in hiding.

Under the leadership of C.I.A. agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), a covert group known as Cemetery Wind has been hunting down and killing all Transformers regardless of their allegiance as Attinger believes that it is time to keep humanity safe from the threat the pose.

At the same time in a small Texas town, an inventor named Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), is trying to keep his home and deal with mounting debt and foreclosure while trying to get his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), into college.

Convinced that one of his inventions will work and will allow them out of their financial mess, Cade purchases a derelict semi-truck convinced that the parts alone will get them an infusion of cash.

During his work on the truck, Cade uncovers that it appears to be a damaged Transfomer, which is confirmed when Optimus Prime transformers from the wreck.

His friend and daughter are convinced Cade should call the authorities and collect the sizeable reward for his find, but Cade decides to repair Prime who said he was injured in an ambush.
Soon after, Cemetery Wind arrives and threatens the life of Tessa and Cade which forces Prime into action. Soon, the humans along with Tessa’s secret boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) are racing for their lives from the deadly pursuit who is working secretly with a deadly Transformer.

As if this was not enough chaos, remember this is a Michael Bay film, a wealthy industrialist named Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), has figured out the secret of the Transformers and working with Attinger in secret, plans to build and army of his own to usher in a new area of technology for humanity and of course lining his and Attinger’s pockets even further with their discovery.
The need to obtain more of the building components is key, and soon the action shifts to a new locale with the fate of a major city and humanity hanging in the balance.

Bay has crafted a film that is technically brilliant as it is an amazing visual spectacle, but yet is as cold and soulless as the very toys that inspired the series.

The film plays like a gigantic pyrotechnic and CGI demo reel as you can see countless examples of Bay orchestrating his fireworks to end in a grand finale.

It was almost comical how many explosions and car chases there were at the expense of the story. I think my wife summed it up best when she said that if the script was 50 pages long, at best 3 pages were devoted to dialogue.

I think it must have read something like this… explosion, explosion, gunfire, gunfire, car chase, explosion, Tessa!!, Dad!!! Vroom, vroom, explosion, car chase, bad line, repeat.
I do not see a film of this type expecting great acting or lines but some of them were so bad and out of place you could almost hear the cast of Mystery Science Theater chomping at the bit to get their hands on this one.

The film also blatantly sells out to appease Chinese audiences as we have a good segment of the film set in mainland China and Hong Kong which we get scenes of Chinese leaders being strong, decisive, and caring for the people, and other events in such a blatant Kowtow to ensure the film gets played in the all-important Chinese marketplace.

In the end the film does have plenty of visual entertainment but it drags out to the point where even the action and technical brilliance of the film and the 3D effects grows old. The biggest issues is that they have a strong and appealing cast, yet they are literally just along for the ride and are not given much to do.

The film is the first in a planned new trilogy so it is a safe bet, Bay and company will be back in a few years.

3 stars out of 5.

Second review by Joseph Saulnier

Honest truth: when Age of Extinction was announced, my first thought was they are beating a dead horse. The first film was actually pretty good, in my opinion. The second (Revenge of the Fallen)… well, the world could have done without that one. And the third one (Dark of the Moon), while better than Fallen, still seemed like a last desperate attempt to keep the franchise alive. So it actually surprised me, though not much, that Age of Extinction was announced.

My biggest issue with the first three movies was that it was that the action scenes were so difficult to track. With the Autobots and Decepticons looking so much alike in the midst of battle, it was really difficult to keep track of who was who. They tried to make the mechanics of the alien life forms so intricate, that it became distracting and left them devoid of any super-defining characteristics. That and the lack of any real substance to the Fallen (and arguably the first and third movie), it just made them hard to enjoy. That being said, I do own all three films. Go figure.

Now flash forward to Age of Extinction. It has been some years since the battle of Chicago that culminated in Dark of the Moon. America, and the world, have basically ended their alliance with the Autobots, and are also hunting down the Decepticons after they have scattered. A highly trained section of the CIA, known as Cemetery Wind, is in charge of hunting them down, but it quickly becomes apparent that they have ulterior motives.

We have shed ourselves of the Witwicky family as our human counterparts to the Autobots this time, and instead we bring in the Yeager family. Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is an engineer and inventor trying to make a living buying old machines, rebuilding them and selling them, or parting them out. All of this in an effort to provide for his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and provide her with the life she deserves. Also part of this rag-tag group is Cade’s friend, and employee, Lucas Flannery (T.J. Miller) who provides some great comic relief through the establishment of the story line. With a great supporting cast that includes Kelsey Grammer, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles and Thomas Lennon, this movie had so much going for it in talent.

It’s really too bad that it was wasted. With more action than dialogue, the movie really suffers from not taking advantage of a cast that could have really added some fiber to a franchise that still has the potential to be great, instead of just good. The story and direction of the movie was excellent, and a really well thought out way to keep the franchise going, but the lack of solid dialogue keeps it in the run-and-gun category.

Getting back to the meat of the movie, Cade finds an old truck and takes it back to his workshop/barn. He intends to part it out and make some money, but he soon finds out that there is more to the truck than meets the eye. Once the CIA gets wind of this, they pay a visit to the Yeager property to retrieve the truck, but problems ensue and the Yeagers soon find themselves on the run with none other than Optimus Prime. It is up to the Yeagers, and what remains of the Autobots, to discover and thwart the plans of the rogue head of Cemetery Wind, Harold Attinger (Grammer).

Earlier I said my biggest issue was the action of the first three movies and the ability to decipher what was actually happening. Well, apparently I was not the only one who thought this, and they actually listened to fans, because I did not have that issue with Age of Extinction. I could tell who was who during each of the action scenes, and having a star like

Mark Wahlberg helped add a more human element to it. The fights were clean, riveting, and have a whole new dynamic to them then in the previous movies.

While there was not a whole lot of dialogue throughout this nearly 3-hour movie (yes… it’s almost 3 hours long), the dialogue that was there was enjoyable. Some great quipy comments from the Autobots, and the interaction between Wahlberg and Reynor, while a little corny and stereotypical, was actually charming and humorous. But again, definitely could have used more.

Also… there were three endings to the movie. I saw two different points where they could have ended it, but continued to tell more story before settling on its actual ending point. The scenes that took place after the two endings fit, and definitely kept you interested, but they could also have fit as part of another story and future movies. However, the ending they did go with, it is very clear that they intend to make more movies that feature the Yeager family with the Autobots. Hopefully we will get to see more Transformers, including the more obscure ones like Ultra Magnus and the Wreckers. There is actually some good footwork laid Age of Extinction to pave way for this cast of characters.

Ultimately… if you are a Transformers fan, you will enjoy this film. If you are not, well… it can still be enjoyable. It is without a doubt an action film, and the producers are unabashed about it. Shot entirely in IMAX 3D cameras, the visuals are stunning. And this time around they went with an Imagine Dragons heavy soundtrack (no complaints here). Definitely worth checking it out in theaters for these two reasons alone. But the question I always ask: will I pick it up when it is released on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital? More than likely, especially since I own the first 3.

3.5 stars out of 5

Podcast by Ryan Guerra


About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”.He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show.He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.



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