Review: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' is an Epic, Lazy Shit-Storm
by Jeremy Kirk
June 27, 2014
Pardon the pun, but Michael Bay is on cruise control now. At least that's the case with the Transformers franchise. The series of mega-budgeted, summer blockbusters were never going to win awards for excellence in storytelling. Beyond the explosions, mayhem, and people shouting "No" in machine-gun rapidity, there have hardly been stories to gel all the action together. That's what makes Bay's movies so up the alley of anyone looking for escapist fun. Unfortunately, not even the computer graphic carnage and epic scale destruction on display in the latest Transformers sequel, Age of Extinction, can keep the sloppy and lazy attitude into which this franchise has shifted from rearing its ugly, mechanized head.
This latest one does have dinosaurs and Mark Wahlberg in it, though, about the only way to differentiate it from the previous three films. Wahlberg takes the lead role of Cade Yeager, failed inventor and failing father of a 17-year-old girl (Nicolas Peltz). He believes he's found the answer to all their financial worries, a bullet-holed, dust-covered, beaten-up semi truck that may or may not be one of the famed Transformers. Actually, it's probably the one whose name everyone knows. Since the events in Dark of the Moon pretty much wiped out any mystery of their presence on Earth, the Transformers, both Autobot and Decepticon, are in hiding at the start and for a good reason.
A shadowy, black ops organization headed by Kelsey Grammer is hunting down all the mechanized aliens, good and bad. His belief is that another, cataclysmic event such as the one that leveled Chicago in the last film is best deterred by completely wiping out the alien problem. His men, complete with black SUVS and black coats that like to flap in the wind, target Yeager's farmhouse as soon as that familiar semi truck is found out. Needless to say, that familiar semi truck soon transforms into an even more familiar, giant robot.
That word, "familiar," is springing to mind far too often when it comes to the Transformers series as a whole. It's as if the people who write these films, Ehren Kruger this time around, have a template set up that just needs names and locations filled in as they go: a few humans team up with Transformers, notably Optimus Prime; humans and Transformers travel to various locations around the globe fighting other Transformers and humans along the way; and the final battle, epic as it may be, is just a shit-storm of metal scraping against metal that rarely addresses the stakes and never once delivers any kind of real suspense.
For lack of a better comparison, it really is like watching Bay play with action figures, action figures that have been brought to life thanks to a few hundred million dollars worth of digital effects. Sure, Bay delivers the explosions like only he can, giant fireballs that engulf the screen and an overabundance of sparks flying every which way. On the surface, it looks like it should be an entertaining event of ultimate proportions. Unfortunately, nothing ever gels to make it feel like a complete film.
The Bay brand of humor steps in here and there, most of it coming in the form of comedian/actor T.J. Miller, the comedic relief this time around, making a goofy quips and expressions over the first part of the film. The back half offers up Stanley Tucci, this film's genuine actor who makes wild gestures and screams most of his line. Easily the best part of Age of Extinction, his schtick is still far too familiar from previous Transformer movies to ever provide genuine breaks of laughter. Still, at least he tries.
The rest of the cast is following Bay's lead for this fourth go-around, lazily hitting their marks and even more lazily going through those motions, almost as if their as tired of the franchise as most audience members are despite this being the first film for most of them. Wahlberg is fine, as believable as he can be playing an inventor from Texas. If anything, he gives a better performance here than he did as a science teacher in The Happening, but we all know that isn't saying much. Grammer turns on his nefarious side well, but, again, there's just nothing behind his character's motivations to ever make him a plausible threat, just more and more guns providing bigger and bigger explosions at his whim.
That same description goes with every aspect to Age of Extinction, more and more, bigger and bigger. "More interesting" is never even a consideration. Forget about the clunky dialogue being thrown around, especially when any of the Transformers decide to open up their voice boxes. Forget the incomprehensible battle sequences that drain every last drop of energy the movie had going for it. You can even forget the pointless Dinobots that decide to show up at the tail end of this 165-minute movie. The idea of a Transformers series had little to offer to begin with. With Bay finding little interest in anything but those damned explosions, it's a wonder they ever got to four movies in the first place.
Jeremy's Rating: 3 out of 10
Follow Jeremy on Twitter - @JeremyKKirk
Reader Feedback - 31 Comments
Holy shit... this has to be very bad according to all of the opinions and ratings.
Szkari on Jun 27, 2014
haha, I thank the movie for the reviews, because the reviews are hilarious. Maybe Michael Bay is a genius after all?
Danimal on Jun 27, 2014
Seriously.......... 2 hours and 45 minutes?????
Drejhead on Jun 27, 2014
I thought it was entertaining but it was not a good movie by a long shot.
Michael G. Calvert on Jun 27, 2014
W/e the reviews I am sure I will have a good time.
Brian Sleider on Jun 27, 2014
Really enjoyed the first one, but all hope was dashed with the second (the twins still make me angry). Can't lie, a little bummed that reviews paint this at best a second rate sequel, and at worst a confused mess & a waste of time. Seems like Bay couldn't help himself ... Dammit Michael!! =/
T. Hakeem on Jun 27, 2014
I went into the last two movies expecting each to be a complete waste of time based on reviews like this one, but I have enjoyed all three previous films. Some more than others, of course. I'm still looking forward to seeing this one despite the reviews!
EmagSamurai on Jun 27, 2014
These movies got progressively worse, but for some reason people still flock to the theaters to see them. I wonder if Michael Bay ever woke up in the morning during shooting and groaned, "ugh....this crap again." Probably not
TheOct8pus on Jun 27, 2014
I think you guys are just being too harsh with Michael Bay and Transformers. It's a damn movie based on a line of action figures what are you expecting Citizen Cane!? It's meant to be for kids not adults. Like we were in the 80s when we loved Transformers this is what it means to the newer generation today, it's the same thing all around. I guess it's just that when we get older we just loose a sense of our own childhood and that's perfectly natural to understand. If something like Michael Bay Transformers came out in the 80s we would have fully enjoyed it being we were one of the first generations to be experienced within Transformers. Now something like Michael Bay Transformers comes out today and we all hate it because we remember this n that and so on. What I come to expect when I see Transformers I expect Transformers and Michael Bay has fully delivered that experience. I have loved all 3 of the previous films and I know I will love this one. There isn't any plot or story to Transformers or in depth history there was never meant to be anything, these are all just characters based on toys which people have a hard time remembering. We go into Transformers for the fun and excitement and the great time which is what Michael Bay has always delivered with these films. No by god no it's not going to win any awards obviously but it's what I come to expect.
Stephen Ritchie on Jun 27, 2014
Dude, I liked it while really being disappointed with the first three. Sure some WTH moments in the story telling, but didn't find myself being bored with the movie; waiting for some Autobot action to happen didn't take too long as were the first three. It probably helps that I came in with low expectations, and the IMAX 3D was on point. I'm sure many will trash the film and that's ok as well. To each their own. Going to check it again this weekend.
mooreworthy on Jun 27, 2014
I think michael bay takes a little too much heat for these movies, when really, all hes doing is doing his job, really really well. The studio is at fault here. People give bay shit for making movies purely driven by CGI and explosions, and first of all, that actually takes an immense amount of skill to direct. to be on set directing a film that revolves around giant robots that are clearly not present on set is very difficult, as is safely and efficiently pulling off as many stunts and pyrotechnics as he does. Secondly, like it or not, when studios talk with bay about new transformers movies, the understanding is that bay is furthering a franchise. His job is to sell lots and lots of movie ticket, t shirts, action figures, costumes, videos games, etc., and he does, REALLY REALLY WELL. see the box office results for every transformers film for proof. Sure, bay could probably make a more restrained, intelligent transformers, but would it make as much money as possible, which is essentially his job? probably not.
jay on Jun 27, 2014
You have no idea how much I respect you now 🙂
Tuomas Lassila on Jun 27, 2014
haha, thanks broooooo.
jay on Jun 28, 2014
ROTFL. Someone mangaed to intelligently defend Mr. Bay. I applaud you sir, and yes I sympathize with Mr. Bay. Too bad he just can't come out and say it, which would probably piss off "the studios". I liked Pain and Gain. I'll skip this and wait for the next true Michael Bay film. (see my above post/rant/keyboard diarrhea.)
Akirakorn on Jun 27, 2014
Yes, because someone who has made a billion dollars for the studios is completely powerless to forge a new direction in his work. I feel such empathy for him, being forced to churn out a relentless stream of explosive crap for those merciless studios year in and year out. It's like modern day slavery! FREE MICHAEL BAY! FREE MICHAEL BAY!
kevjohn on Jun 30, 2014
My point was, forging a new direction does not guarantee success. Obviously there are never any guarantees about any movies success, but the last 3 transformers have used the same template, and have made BILLIONS of dollars. As a studio, why would you want anything to change? Lets be real here, even if more time and thought was put into the scripts of the transformers movies, they probably would still be average-at-best films, because lets face it, theyre based on gimmicky action figures from the 80s (which, granted, i love). its going to be hard to pull a citizen cane out of those origins. I do think that artists should make the best work they can in general, but, movies being such a massively expensive undertaking, and moviegoers in general typically not paying for enough tickets to make back the budget on even amazing movies if they lack CGI and explosions (see shawshank redemption as a prime example), why would any studio or director try to pull out a slightly better movie, when the movie would probably still not be that great based on the dramatic limitations of the concept, and changing things up would probably result in less box office success, which only hurts the studios and makes it less likely for us to have movies like shawshank redemption. Again, I dont prefer this system, but this is where the industry is at. It is becoming increasingly cheaper to make movies these days so maybe someday transformers wont be a necessary evil, but for now, im totally fine with bay making shitty movies if they give the studio funds to make less shitty movies.
jay on Jun 30, 2014
Also, disclaimer, youre going to have a hard time convincing me that the industry is any different, because im currently sitting at my desk on my lunch break about to return to post production on a feature documentary in los angeles. I am familiar with this industry.
jay on Jun 30, 2014
Meh, it will still make a gazillion dollars at the worldwide box office.
Mithun Divakaran on Jun 27, 2014
A Michael Bay movie that's trash? ...you don't say?
ColtNoir on Jun 27, 2014
I liked it, but I can understand the low ratings. Only thing I was dissapointed with was the role of Galvatron in the film, but apparently he will be saved for Transformers 5 with bigger role, like Starscream having very small role in first Transformers and being bigger in Transformers 2.
Tuomas Lassila on Jun 27, 2014
I can't believe I actually sat through this almost 3 hour crap fest. Fucking Micheal Bay. I am guessing TMNT is an even worse clusterfuck.
tyban81 on Jun 27, 2014
I'm not going to trash the movie, as most people are going to do due to the fact that its a "Michael bay" commercial... excuse me Film. Did I enjoy T4? Yes. Was it the best film I've seen all year? Not even close, but I enjoyed the film for what it was. Pure Escapism while I put my mind on cruise control and throw popcorn into my mouth. Sure the story sucked, sure Michael bay hit all his usual cues (Explosions, sparks, comedy, fast cuts, over dramatic angles and slow mo) but you should already know those things going into a Bay commercial.. sorry film. People love to hate on CGI, most people have no damm clue what it takes to 3d model, or how to incorporate a fully CGI "transfomer" into a scene while taking into account the mathematics and physics of the said scene..... Anyways....Once the film was over I was pleased for what it was and nothing more. As a film all on its own I would have to rate it about a 7/10.
cg on Jun 27, 2014
gelxxxvi on Jun 27, 2014
To that title All I can say is...DUH!
Jimmy Love on Jun 27, 2014
What were you expecting, Schindler's List? It's a Michael Bay film. It is what it is. Enjoy the ride, or go down to your local Coffee Bean and stroke your chin with all your wannabe Auteur friends.
Trey Wilson on Jun 27, 2014
Dude, what he saying is that this film doesn't even measure up to a brain dead entertainment flick. I'm sure he wanted to enjoy the ride just as bad as anyone of us. The ride just sucks.
Scared S#!tless on Jun 27, 2014
I LOVE COFFEE BEAN... oh sorry. Anway, "Michael Bay films" used to be good action movies. Then came Transfomers. Now it's "hey it's a Michael Bay film whatchu want?", which is insulting to other Micheal Bay films.
Akirakorn on Jun 27, 2014
These movies have sucked since the first one. These films are the essence of "wash, rinse and repeat" which I Know is what Kirk is basically saying. Bay is horrific at his attempts to insert humor. The mom of Shia's character was never NOT annoying. Bay is terrible at providing comic relief. I'm completely fine with "check your brain at the door" flicks but Bay pushes this too far. The robots look and so the same thing since we first saw them. And the constant mess of CGI metal that moves all over when they actually transform still looks bad. It's like they never even tried to be logical in creating that process and in true Bay form, just go crazy with it with sensory overload and it's prefect. Whatever, this could be a novel with the inane crap Bay creates. It's so overkill now it makes me nauseous when I go back and look at his first stuff that I liked like The Rock. Talk about zero growth as a film maker.
LightningB on Jun 27, 2014
This movie really is just another typical sequel to the franchise. Having said that it's probably the best sequel (which isn't saying much). When I think about all the sequels to date it has more action, better actors and a more likeable main character. Mark Wahlberg character is a lot less annoying than Shia Lebouf was. Overall this movie isn't that great but it is the best the franchise has to offer with the exception of the first movie.
batsupe on Jun 27, 2014
It was fun! But it was not good. I'd personally give it a "C".
DAVIDPD on Jun 28, 2014
"The idea of a Transformers series had little to offer to begin with." We will agree to disagree on this point, and I will further deduce that you have some sort of... "imagination disability"? Vehicles that transform into robots that are from another planet? I'm not sure if there is an easier scriptwriting vehicle (no pun intended) that exists - maybe the Lego movies? That they are so bad, is actually what is kind of unbelievable. I mean, I literally came up with better plots, likely hundreds, as a child playing with the toys.
avconsumer2 on Jun 30, 2014
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