I always say that it is ok for Critics to have a bias when we walk into a theater, a good movie will be good regardless of your initial opinion, a truly great movie has the ability to turn you into a fan and change your mood. To make glad you dragged yourself out to the theater. Yeah, I know people are whining and complaining about Transformers, but are people complaining about the movie or just projecting their irrational hatred and jealousy of Michael Bay onto the film? He knows his audience and delivers everything a fan of this franchise could want and more.
As someone who thinks Michael Bay gets unfairly slammed by critics I’m fairly ambivalent about his Transformers series. I was always more into GI: Joe than Hasbro’s weird robot franchise. I never understood it’s popularity and after three movies still can’t tell much of a difference between the Robots, Autobots, and Decepticons. When I heard Transformers: Age of Extinction was a gasp worth 165 mins, I’ll admit, I had zero desire to see it. Imagine my surprise when I walked out absolutely loving the hell out of this movie!
One of my concerns walking into the film was that it had the smell of complete reboot written all over it. When you destroy a major city, there should be some form of repercussion. In the first GI Joe film, Cobra destroyed a large chunk of England, but it wasn’t even mentioned or touched on in the sequel. I love that Transformers film doesn’t ignore the events that happened at the end of the last one and that the war and destruction of Chicago is the catalyst for everything that happens in this movie. I kind of hope Batman Vs. Superman goes this route.
Taking place five years after the last film, the Government has had enough of Aliens of all stripes and has declared “war” on all Transformers. The CIA has a special taskforce assigned to track down any rogue Autobots and Decepticons. The lead black ops guy James Savoy (Titus Welliver) is in the game because his sister was killed in the battle of Chicago. He has zero tolerance for the Transformers and even less for humans like Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) that helps them.
Savoy’s boss is CIA mystery man Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) whose ace in the hole is a Alien bounty hunter who was hired by some unseen creator to capture Optimus Prime. Savoy has no allegiance, his grand scheme is to capture Optimus so the bounty hunter will give him “the seed” that he can then sell to businessman scientist Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci). Joyce’s goal is to use the seed to build his own army of Transformers.
The story works, but even at over 2 ½ hours, it felt like certain plot threads were dropped, namely everything having to do with the Dinobots – these giant prehistoric Transformers that are shaped like Dinosaurs, and it clumsily tried to layer in seeds for the inevitable trilogy by telling us that the Autobots were created for another purpose and rebelled against some mysterious maker.
I know many people complained about the human element in the previous Transformer films, but I actually liked Shia and the gang a lot more than the Robots. Here I think the length of the film gives the audience and the human characters a chance to breath. Yeah they are cardboard cutouts, but for the most part they work pretty well within the context of this movie.
As expected with any Bay film, this one is beautifully shot and gives you big sense of scale and all the action did have a sense of weightiness to it. This thing is stunning on a big iMax screen and probably one of the most immersive 3D experiences I’ve had at a theater in a long time. The other films sacrificed character for action, this one almost goes in the opposite direction sacrificing action for character work.
I liked the humans in the first three films and I liked them again here. This time out I thought bay did a better job with giving the Autobots a bit more of a personality and I still think Optimus comes across as a preachy douchebag. But I loved that this time out the Autobots weren’t blindly following the humans, they felt duty bound to help Yeager, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor). Many will gripe about how Tessa was portrayed, but I think Nicola did a nice job with the material given.
Apparently these days all movies have to be dark, grim, joyless, and not allowed to be fun just for the sake of entertaining an audience. I loved every moment of this big, dumb, over the top extravaganza. Transformers: Age of Extinction is the type of film that brings back that sense of awe inspiring wonder and is why we go to the movies.
Final Grade A