Friday, June 27, 2014


Directed by: Michael Bay
"Written" by: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Raynor, Bingbing Li, and Stanley Tucci.
Synopsis: Five years after the events of the last movie, the Autobots are being hunted down by the CIA.

Four movies with the same director, and it would seem that the routine is very obvious: take the previous movie and somehow add more explosions, robots, and more outlandish characters. As part of a new Transformers trilogy and a so-called "soft reboot," this movie both is more AND less eccentric than the previous movies but ultimately ends up falling short being a decent movie.

The movie begins five years after the events of TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, and it's a different world. Transformers (the why haven't been called that this entire franchise) are now a known entity in the world after the destruction of Chicago by Megatron and Sentinel Prime. Thanks to the large amount of robo-corpses, humans have now began to create their own robots, all the while the Autobots, despite officially being granted asylum, are currently being hunted down by a corrupt CIA director. Add the involvement of Cade Yeager (Wahlberg), his daughter Tessa, and her boyfriend, Shane Dyson, plus the bounty hunter, Lockdown, going after Optimus, and you have more than enough plot lines to keep you busy during the movie's run time.

Starting off with some of the best aspects of the movie. Visually, it is one of the more impressive CGI-filled movies. The way that the robots are designed with more flat surfaces and panelmakes iteasier to follow them on screen, plus their faces are much more emotive this time around, giving us the sense that these are. With newcomers Crosshairs, Drift, and Hound, even if their personalities are a little stereotypical, at least they have much more character than other robots in the previous movies. Of special note, John Goodman's performance as Hound is probably the best part of the movie. He plays it as a robotic and slightly less crazy Walter Sobchak, his character from THE BIG LEBOWSKI.

The movie falls apart in so many ways, but let's get to one of the most egregious aspects, the editing. For a little background, these movies have never been filmmaking masterpieces, but the expectation that they feel coherent shouldn't be too crazy. Back in 2009's REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, there's a famous scene when a group of character are in the Aerospace Museum in one scene and then end up in the desert. Well, this movie is filled with lots of those types of jarring cuts, and it leads to the movie feeling extremely messy. There's a scene where Bay cuts from one set of characters to the other, and between each cut, it feels like you're in a different part of the country and a different part of the day. Not only that, but it's very hard to get a sense of distance and time for the movie because the transitions between locations is all but non-existent. The timeline of the story feels completely disjointed, and it's actually hard to believe that we go from Texas, to Chicago, to Detroit, and to China

The human cast, while admittedly an improvement of the Shia LaBeef era, are decidedly one note or barely have much of a character at all. Cade Yeager (a very Texan name) is supposed to be an inventor and father, but 90% of his dialogue in the movie is all about him making remarks about how his daughter Tessa, should not date or even look at guys and even threatens her boyfriend, Shane Dyson. You know, for comedy! While Tessa herself was not sexualized to the point of Megan Fox, which is surprising, but there's way too much focus on her appearance or some creeper statutory rape laws pertaining to her. The most fun human character of the movie is Stanley Tucci's Joshua Joyce, who is the right mix of eccentric and panicky in a way that John Malkovich's character from the third movie wasn't.

From a dramatic standpoint, the movie just has zero tension. At this point, the struggle of the Autobots against their robotic enemies is so amazingly one sided, that you just hope to get through the large battles to get to the next scene. At the climactic battle, the Autobots are so powerful that they can be outnumbered 10 to 1 and still come out on top. Not only that, but as part of the franchise, it feels like Bay is trying to take elements of what worked previously and tries to mash them up together to make a better movie. Also, the Optimus from this movie seems to be culmination of the insane overtly violent and murderous persona he has developed from the last two movies. It's terrible imagery to see a heroic character getting so violent towards humans. Not only that, but his treatment of the Dinobots is beyond disturbing. He talks about giving him their freedom and then threatens them to "Defend my family or die" I'm not sure that this Optimus knows what freedom means.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION can be justified as a passable movie thanks to its robot and designs, and the fact that the robots are given semblance of character. However, the underlying fact is that this movie is a filmmaking disaster that just tries to re-thread old territory and  trying to pass it off as new.

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