Finally, got around to it, so here we are at Transfourmers: Age of Extinction. In the last review, we have just seen the end of the Linkin Park Transformers trilogy. (I saw that title in a Reddit thread and Letterboxd review; and thought that is a pretty interesting way to define those movies.) In 2014 when the fourth Transformers movie came out there was some hype around it because Sam Witwicky was gone in favour for Mark Wahlberg as our new lead. Wahlberg’s arrival came with a new cast, new Transformers, and different songs to put in the end credits that aren’t made by Linkin Park because the 2000s have long passed. There is also something else that made this movie special, which I can’t put my finger on. It might have something to do with this movie marketing that Optimus Prime is going to ride on top of a giant robot lizard or something. I can’t remember, I was a teen who was too cool for the Transformers, but not Marvel movies. All this newness proved to be a huge success as it was the highest-gross movie of 2014 making under 4 billion dollars. Keep in mind this is a Transformers movie and money doesn’t judge a film’s quality. If memory serves me well I did not like this one very much almost with a burning passion. Anyway, that was a while ago and I have been surprising myself with my new takes on these movies, so let’s see what this one entails.
We’re off to a better start with the title in comparison to Transformers: Dark of the Moon; as Transformers: Age of Extinction is so generically bland that it’s not worth ripping on. The film begins without an Optimus Prime opening voiceover, but it still takes place years before the events of this movie and still has no bearing on the actual plot until the last half hour of the movie. While this one is advertised as being different it’s still very much the same. So it’s been 5 years since Dark of the Moon and that big battle at the end of that movie has made the US government think that they’re better off without the Transformers and they should kill them all before they get a chance to strike back. Even though without the Autobots’ involvement in that battle they would’ve been toast! Anyway, my head canon for justifying this stupid premise is that Kelsey Grammer’s character was so shocked by how Optimus Prime brutally dispatched the last movie’s main villains that he convinced the Pentagon or whoever that they need to wipe out all the Autobots before Optimus gets a chance to taste human blood.
Let’s talk about Mark Wahlberg’s Max Kade. (I don’t think that’s his name, but I like it so I’m sticking with it.) Max Kade, I must admit is probably more suited for the role of the main human character in a Transformers movie than Sam ever was. Kade isn’t a guy you can get away with punching in the face, but instead, he will be punching you in the face and then he’ll likely be running off with your wife. Though I still prefer someone as punchily charming as Sam than someone who reminds me of every generic male action star like Kade. Max Kade’s thing is he’s really good at building things out of random junk and making malfunctioning robots. One of these days Kade will hit his break and be able to send his daughter to college, but too bad he’s flat broke and he needs his daughter to mother him to get a real job. The absolutely necessary hot girl for this movie is the main character’s teenage daughter, which is more messed up when the movie decides to perv on her. Their relationship is easily the most competent piece of writing to come out of this movie as it’s much easier to buy a father or daughter wanting to assure the other’s safety than of Sam and any of his supermodel girlfriends.
I wish this was just small-scale story of these two characters meeting Optimus Prime, which causes them to be fugitives and chased across the country by the US government. Then I forget it’s a Michael Bay movie where we also need to follow 50 annoying worthless side characters and the plot needs to be needlessly complicated, for complicated sakes. This movie might have the worst supporting cast of any Transformers movie as any villain or Transformer who hasn’t been here since the first movie all range from boring to irritating. Easily the worst character is the daughter’s 20-something-year-old boyfriend who not only sucks but is completely unnecessary. The one good thing he does is replace the annoying character T.J Miller played, but then he just hangs around for the rest of the movie doing nothing of note. The guy achieves the impossible of being unlikeable and incredibly boring as well by justifying his relationship with Max Kade’s teenage daughter and chickening out whenever he is in peril; only ever manning up after Max Kade dealt with the danger so then he can smooch up to his girlfriend and pretend to be the hero.
The main plot does start because Max Kade finds Optimus Prime, who is eventually discovered by Kelsey Grammer and his task force that truly believes they’re saving lives by opening fire at Transformers in very public places. A very obvious allegory to some famous historic event; plus we have discrimination against an entire race that is as subtle as this sentence. That being said this is probably the most surprising aspect of the movie as this anti-government stuff is coming from the most patriotic filmmaker I know. Though there are a lot of American Flags flying about the place so at least Bay hasn’t lost complete faith in his country. This leads us to the larger plot of a big tech company making their own Transformers. Yes, Transformers have finally gotten to that same overused plotline that Jurassic Park and Alien have enjoyed capitalising on in every one of their movies. These guys are obsessed with this alien mineral called ‘Transformium.’ (I wish I was kidding!) This company and Kelsey Grammer want more transformium mainly so they can make more money and have their transformer army too. To achieve this they need to get this bomb called The Seed, which when it explodes it will create transformium. The only way they can acquire a Seed is from their partnership with their Transformer mercenary?!? A third party exists in a race of machines that have only been defined by their very black-and-white conflict for three movies. (Whatever this still has nothing on the human transformer.) Anyway, the point of this is these dumb idiots have used Megatron’s brain to power these transformers, and of course, it backfires and Megatron steals the seed so he can use it to kill a load of people in Hong Kong. The final battle is there and it’s as confusing as any other Transformer movie. Though who cares because at long last Optimus Prime and friends stumble upon Dinosaur Transformers within the last half hour of the movie. (Not a big deal breaker if you’re one of those people who don’t ever feel cheated by marketing.) It’s a bit confusing as they’re regular transformers, that transform into dinosaurs instead of cars and planes. They don’t seem to act like regular transformers either, perhaps it’s for the best otherwise it’s a little weird when Optimus Prime grabs out his sword and rides that fire-breathing metal T-Rex into battle.
I would say Age of Extinction mainly left me underwhelmed. It’s the fourth movie in and by this point you’re going to lose a lot of that edge. Some of the cheese from previous Bayformers is still here, but it’s slowly being washed out into becoming a typical action movie. Generic hero vs generic villains accompanied by offensive caricatures and overly complicated story. I don’t have any new praises to share that haven’t already been stated in the other reviews, but I do have more negatives. My boy Optimus Prime doesn’t get much too and doesn’t have that many cool moments, I guess besides brutally killing the main villains again. The final action set piece felt pretty underwhelming, a repeat of the being there done that. I guess because that Dark of the Moon’s final battle felt like the end and this one feels like another conclusion for another Transformers movie. Not even the inclusion of transforming dinosaurs can save this as they’re pretty forgettable kind of like most of this movie.
Jokes aside I like Age of Extinction more than I did as a teen, but it still might be my least favourite Transformers movie. Mainly because while it does improve on the cheese of the previous movies, by doing so it makes the movie less enjoyable in comparison. That’s it from me as after this movie I don’t know what to expect as I haven’t seen this final Bayformer movie nor this spin-off, so this will be fun.