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Transformers: Age of Extinction Review

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Optimus Prime and his allies return to the big screen to face an all-new enemy: Lockdown.

The Transformers are back and this latest installment attempts to revamp the franchise. The Autobots are given a whole new look and the story follows the aftermath of Transformers: Dark of the Moon's ginormous battle in Chicago -- an incident which resulted in a lot of civilian casualties. Needless to say, many humans aren't happy about it and there's now a CIA black ops team targeting any and all aliens. Mark Wahlberg's character, Cade Yeager, is a struggling inventor who finds himself stuck in the middle of all this madness after finding Optimus Prime. Oh, and that CIA black ops team? They're temporarily aligned with an alien bounty hunter called Lockdown. The villain has one simple mission: capture Optimus Prime. Meanwhile, humanity is making major technological advancements that will apparently allow them to create their very own transformers. That's guaranteed to go well, right?

As expected, the visual ride is impressive. Director Michael Bay uses many of the shots you've come to expect from him (low-angles, swooping establishing shots, etc.), and, for the most part, does a good job making sure we're always thrown right into all of the chaos -- and trust me, there's a lot of it. There's a couple of moments where slow motion really shines, too. There's a ridiculous yet joyous bit early on involving a man's head and a tire and watching Autobots destroy their enemies in slo-mo doesn't get old. That said, there is a scene or two where this is used ineffectively (e.g. generic running from an explosion or a goon reaching for his ear piece). And yes, the special effects are terrific. The robots and vehicles all look stellar and there's only a few moments where the effects didn't really feel up to par with the rest of the movie. However, those bits are pretty brief and vastly outweighed by the raw amount of spectacle the movie offers. If you're paying for a ticket just to see an overwhelming amount of action and CGI goodness, you'll certainly get your money's worth.

Thankfully, the Autobots and Lockdown get a decent amount of focus. Every Autobot receives at least one moment to shine, as well. Aside from Optimus and Bumblebee -- they obviously receive the most love -- it felt like Hound (John Goodman) had the most time with action scenes. It's a good one, but I would have loved to see more of Drift (Ken Watanabe). When you have a character that badass, you seriously need to give them more of the spotlight in battle scenes.

The story isn't going to blow anyone's mind and honestly, it's not that good, but it does manage to introduce some pretty big changes to the Transformers Cinematic Universe. While this movie basically feels like a lot more of the same, steps are taken which seems to promise a pretty big change for the next movie (which apparently isn't confirmed but obviously seems very likely to happen). There's major potential to go very sci-fi heavy in the next one and that would help give the franchise a little more variety. Only time will tell how they'll handle it, though.

As for the cast, there's quite a few humans, but only Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), and Lucas Flannery (T.J. Miller) left an impression. Sure, Wahlberg has some very silly remarks about being an inventor and making him just an engineer would have been so much simpler, but he's the kind of guy who can pull off both the levity and action scenes well. He never comes off as a brilliant inventor, but he feels like a fitting lead for this franchise since he can leap into the action and offer some bits of humor when things aren't exploding or being punched in the face. Oh, and speaking of punches in the face, Wahlberg has a pretty visceral fight with another human and it's surprisingly good (minus a cliche shot in the end). There's a handful of human enemies, but Tucci is easily the most entertaining one and that's thanks to his often immature and short-tempered nature. It's a shame T.J. Miller doesn't get all that much time on the screen, but when he's there, he's able to provide some funny banter. Kelsey Grammer does a perfectly fine acting stern and intimidating as the xenophobic Harold Attinger, but when you have a bounty hunter that can turn his face into a giant gun (Lockdown) and the amusing Joyce, there isn't much room for him to develop or impress.

This movie really should be called Transformers: Age of Explosions. It almost feels like Michael Bay looked at all of the explosions in his other movies and said to himself, "Yeah, I can top that." There's an insane amount of action in this one. We have multiple chase scenes with a constant onslaught of explosives going off all around the vehicles, various shootouts, an aerial battle, and even a few melee sequences. A complaint some people have is that it can be tough to follow who's who when the big robots begin to battle, but it's not really an issue here. As stated above, the special effects are great and there's even a couple pretty neat hand-to-hand moments between the huge beings. I'm sure this will be too much action for some, but if you're cool with simply shutting off your mind and enjoying popcorn fun, you should have a good amount of fun when the action begins.

While Transformers: Age of Extinction does have a more serious tone than the previous three movies, it's still packed with banter and the occasional dose of slapstick comedy. It isn't as silly or goofy as before, but there's still moments scattered throughout. So if you enjoyed the type of comedy in the first and third (let's just forget the second, okay?), you'll be happy to know some of that still exists and does so without overshadowing the tone all that much.

Honestly, the Dinobots don't get much time and I would have loved to see more of them. You have to wait awhile before Grimlock shows up and the robot's role is limited. However, the little time the character does get is truly awesome. Optimus Prime riding Grimlock and attacking a wave of enemies is every bit as ridiculous and fun as it should be. It may not last long, but it's so over the top and a real joy. It's easily the most crowd-pleasing scene in the movie.

Transformers: Age of Exctinction is 2 hours and 45 minutes long and the lengthy runtime is absolutely felt. I know what some of you are thinking right about now. "Nearly 3 hours of robots fighting and action? That sounds pretty awesome to me. Why can't you just shut off your brain and enjoy some fun, reviewer?" If it was almost 3 hours of some of the best action this franchise has seen, then yes, I would have had a way better experience. Unfortunately, that isn't the case.

So much time is spent trying to build an emotional connection to the Yeager family and much of it just doesn't add anything to the movie or make you truly care about them. So many of these scenes could have been trimmed a lot or even totally cut. The robots receive a lot of focus, but there's a lot of time spent with this family, too, and it's definitely noticed. I mean, aside from a few of them, many of the humans don't really bring anything interesting or enjoyable to the table. Wahlberg's daughter and her boyfriend primarily exist to produce reactions from him. The boyfriend races for a living -- so he's the driver in the action scenes -- and it's an ongoing gag that Wahlberg isn't happy about the way his daughter dresses or that she's with someone older than she is. Look, I get the movie needs to at least make an attempt with the human characters, but it really drags and begins to add up. Additionally, when you have so much action, a bit of it tends to feel like more of the same and you're left waiting for something to spice it up.

Yes, you can expect some blatant stereotypes and models appearing for no reason whatsoever. I'm sure some of you think the former is just for laughs and the latter is just eye candy, but it gets pretty shameless a few times.

Many of us go into a Transformers movie with the same expectations. We expect a story that isn't compelling and human characters that we likely won't care about, but we can tolerate that because of the raw spectacle the movie has to offer. We're talking about mindless 'splosions and robot fights, right? Here's the thing: I really enjoy the first movie, but this one has some painfully bad dialogue at times and, even though the plot establishes some cool potential for the future, it's all over the place. I mean, we're talking about non-comedic bits that made much of the theater burst into laughter. There's some lines that are just that cheesy and unfortunately, it happens a handful of times. There's also several moments where I found myself asking several questions about the narrative and how characters were responding. Yes, it's not like anyone can say they expected a brilliant plot that's devoid of holes or silliness, but it definitely has quite a few of them.

Then there's the beyond noticeable product placement. And no, I'm not even talking about the car brands. You expect nice cars and their logos to flash across the screen with this franchise, but man, there's some totally obvious scenes of product placement. One moment practically feels like a commercial for Bud Light. If you thought there was a lot of this in Man of Steel ("the 'S' stands for Sears!"), prepare to witness an onslaught of products!

Transformers: Age of Extinction delivers exactly what you should expect from it and gives you a lot of it. It's the longest movie in the franchise and that runtime is definitely felt as the movie drags in more than a few spots. On top of that, there's a strong focus on generic characters and, I'll be blunt, some of the the plot and dialogue is pretty bad. However, that extended runtime also means there's way more popcorn entertainment. There's a ton of action and it's a visually impressive ride. It's not the best Transformers movie, but it's easily the most action-packed one yet. If you simply want to turn off your brain and enjoy what's basically a blockbuster on steroids, then you may as well go all out and check it out in 3D and IMAX. Your mind may not be thrilled with the experience, but your eyes will have a total blast.

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Edited by Fallschirmjager

How many times did the blonde chick say/scream/yell "Daaaaaaad" ?

It was at least 3 based on the trailer.

Posted by Squalleon

I heard that the special effects were worse than even Transformer 1, so isn't that the case?

Posted by Wardishy

A mediocre Transformers movie? You don't say.

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Edited by AllStarSuperman

So if you enjoyed the type of comedy in the first and third (let's just forget the second, okay?), you'll be happy to know some of that still exists and does so without overshadowing the tone all that much.

I completely agree with this. So this is basically on the same level as 3 probably, not as good as 1 and nowhere near as bad as 2.

Posted by NorrinBoltagonPrime21

The Quintessons better be the ones who sent Lockdown

Posted by tparks

@wardishy said:

A mediocre Transformers movie? You don't say.

Don't sound so surprised! Lol.

Posted by Ninjablade09

I had fun with this movie. My second favorite from the franchise.

Best line came from Drift after Grimlock first transforms into a dinosaur .

"I thought they would turn into giant cars."

Posted by micah

Why is it so hard to get an excellent Transformers movie.....

Edited by cdiddyman911

@wardishy said:

A mediocre Transformers movie? You don't say.

Posted by ReDKiNG

You know a Tramsformers' movie is doomed when the poster has more humans than Transformers. :/

Edited by Jphu8414

@micah: Two words

Michael. Bay

Posted by ccraft

I probably would have went to seen this, but with all of the bad reviews it's getting I think I'm going to pass, especially since it's 3hrs... I usually don't look at reviews to see whether I go to the movies or not, but with something like Transformers, I'll make an exception, I'm not a big fan of the franchise.

Posted by pikachumonster

Hate me all you want.. I wanted this movie to flop

Posted by ThePRez

I saw this movie last night ... this was awful

Posted by Fallschirmjager

Hate me all you want.. I wanted this movie to flop

Its not gonna happen dude. People can hate them all they want, each movie has made... A LOT more money than the last.

People love mediocrity.

Edited by Wolverine08

@pikachumonster said:

Hate me all you want.. I wanted this movie to flop

Its not gonna happen dude. People can hate them all they want, each movie has made... A LOT more money than the last.

People love mediocrity.

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Edited by manwithoutshame

@fallschirmjager: It might flop in the US, there's clearly declining interest stateside. The problem is foreign moviegoers can't seem to get enough of this garbage.

Posted by Wolverine08

The hot blonde daughter is all I need to see this.

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Edited by Fallschirmjager

@manwithoutshame said:

@fallschirmjager: It might flop in the US, there's clearly declining interest stateside. The problem is foreign moviegoers can't seem to get enough of this garbage.

That's not true. Revenge of the Fallen had a 48.1% US / 51.9% Foreign box office.

That's actually REALLY high. A big box office movie usually pulls only 30-40 from the US. Most CBM's are like this for example. Avengers was a 41/59 split for example. Avatar was a 27.3/72.7 split.

Posted by TheCheeseStabber

@k4tzm4n IS there any epilogue to Shia Lebouefs character?

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Posted by k4tzm4n
Staff
Posted by manwithoutshame

@fallschirmjager: how'd dark of the moon split? I'm thinking this could be like how Pirates 4 didn't do so hot.

Edited by Fallschirmjager

@manwithoutshame said:

@fallschirmjager: how'd dark of the moon split? I'm thinking this could be like how Pirates 4 didn't do so hot.

Ooooh my bad lol. I totally thought Revenge was the 3rd film for some reason. Temporary insanity.

You're actually right. Dark had a 31/69 split.

Iron Man 3 from last year (only 1b dollar film) also had a 33/67 split.

Posted by dagmar_merrill

The boyfriend is races for a living?

Posted by TheCheeseStabber
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Posted by k4tzm4n

The boyfriend is races for a living?

14 paragraphs and your comment is about a 2 letter word I forgot to delete. :P

Thanks for pointing it out, though. Made the correction.

@manwithoutshame said:

@fallschirmjager: how'd dark of the moon split? I'm thinking this could be like how Pirates 4 didn't do so hot.

Ooooh my bad lol. I totally thought Revenge was the 3rd film for some reason. Temporary insanity.

You're actually right. Dark had a 31/69 split.

Iron Man 3 from last year (only 1b dollar film) also had a 33/67 split.

I don't think a financial "flop" is likely at all, but I guess we'll see how its opening weekend compares to the third.

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Edited by Fallschirmjager

@k4tzm4n: I wasn't arguing it was going to be a flop.

I wouldn't be surprised if it makes less. Despite people liking to label every CBM a flop if it doesn't make 1b anymore, that mark is EXTREMELY hard to reach. Its happened like a dozen times in movie history.

Given that, it seems unlikely that Transformers can repeat that.

But I have zero doubts in in making asstons of cash and being more than successful enough for another one. Its not like the past 3 films having all ready paid for 3 more and then some.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@fallschirmjager: I'm aware of that, but the entire conversation began with the question of if it'll flop. I was just chiming in on that and lazily quoted the last part of the conversation :D

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Posted by Fallschirmjager

@k4tzm4n: lol :P

I haven't read your review in detail since I'm going tonight, but seriously. How many times did she say Dad? :D

And do we get lots of ass shots? I don't want to feel like a pedo in a movie theater full of a kids.

Posted by Farkam

Lockdown better be badass, unlike that weak b*tch Shockwave

Edited by flameboy298

Haven't seen it yet I hear this is supposed to be a new trilogy.This movie must really suck. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 19% its usually fair they gave MoS i think somewhere like a 58 or 60% which isn't terrible

Posted by Krypton-115

@micah: Because Michael Bay refuses to let anyone else direct one...

Posted by MonsterStomp

Nigh-3 hours of mad action. I'm game.

Posted by NightFang

If any movie franchise needed a reboot it's this one!

Posted by Child_Karl

@wardishy said:

A mediocre Transformers movie? You don't say.

There's no such thing as a mediocre one, they're either dumb fun or an abomination to cinema. Bay don't do mediocre, only extremes.

Posted by DoctorXander

As much as I love big robots beating each other up, Michael Bay is not getting my money, at least at the cinema

Posted by Knightfall225

I kind of want this movie to fail but i know it won't. As long as people go see it , the more shitty Transformer movies will be made. Sigh maybe one day we can actually see a Transformers movie that has more to do with Transformers than humans.

Posted by MegaHGFan

I only saw the first movie and hated it because of Shia and the idiotic humor. This looks like it does some things right be getting rid of Shia and toning down the humor. Plus, Nicola Peltz is way hotter than Megan Fox. I would be tempted to give it a try if it had a reasonable runtime like 110 minutes, but I'm sure a movie like this will get super tedious at 166 minutes. Long run times are fine for some movies, but Transformers isn't exactly the Godfather or Lord of the Rings.

Posted by bloggerboy

One day I will care about Transformer movies.

Posted by Loki2u

@fallschirmjager:

"And do we get lots of ass shots? I don't want to feel like a pedo in a movie theater full of a kids"

Ya, because verbalizing it online is much better. (Rolls eyes)

Posted by danhimself

haven't seen it yet but I'm taking a wild guess and saying that Lockdown is providing Cybertronian tech to the military that they're using to make their own Transformers...in the process he or someone else uses Megatron's spark and that's how we get Galvatron in this movie

Posted by Fallschirmjager

@loki2u said:

@fallschirmjager:

"And do we get lots of ass shots? I don't want to feel like a pedo in a movie theater full of a kids"

Ya, because verbalizing it online is much better. (Rolls eyes)

I couldn't care less what happens on the internet.

Turns out she's 19 anyway

Posted by jonny1995

@micah said:

Why is it so hard to get an excellent Transformers movie.....

Simple: It's because Michael Bay is involved and always making them.

Posted by Rolls7royce

@micah: Because they insist on having way too many human characters. Reduce the number of humans down to a core group of ancillary characters and focus more on the bots and their war and you instantly have a great sci-fi movie. The humans are the worst part of this franchise.

We never get to fully enjoy the movie versions of the characters we grew up loving because they focus too much on the humans and their reactions to the bots.

Posted by GraniteSoldier

The only one I saw in theaters was the first back when I was in college. I was disappointed then. Felt jumbled and incoherent. I saw the other two on tv...made even less sense. The entire thing was structured around these awesome robots but without reason or purpose so...it was a mess. I expected more of the same with this one, and now unfortunately they dragged my favorite childhood transformer into the fray (Grimlock)! I may watch this on Netflix or something when it makes it to there. Biggest gripe of the entire franchise: in the first movie Tyrese Gibson (the Air Force Combat Controller with the Army guys) is a Tech Sergeant, an E-6. In the second...taking place only a year or two or a few years at most later...he's a Chief Master Sergeant, an E-9 and the highest enlisted rank in the USAF. That drove me insane. Basically they looked at a high rank that sounded cool and gave it to him hoping the audience had no idea what it meant. I suppose it works for the average moviegoer, but it bothers the hell out of me. Nitpicky I guess.

I want to like the Transformers movies, I really do. But I feel like they insult my intelligence with how random and how little sense the plots make. Plus the dialogue is always, always, awful.

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Posted by Wolverine08

@granitesoldier:

Biggest gripe of the entire franchise: in the first movie Tyrese Gibson (the Air Force Combat Controller with the Army guys) is a Tech Sergeant, an E-6. In the second...taking place only a year or two or a few years at most later...he's a Chief Master Sergeant, an E-9 and the highest enlisted rank in the USAF. That drove me insane. Basically they looked at a high rank that sounded cool and gave it to him hoping the audience had no idea what it meant. I suppose it works for the average moviegoer, but it bothers the hell out of me. Nitpicky I guess.

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Edited by GraniteSoldier

@granitesoldier:

Biggest gripe of the entire franchise: in the first movie Tyrese Gibson (the Air Force Combat Controller with the Army guys) is a Tech Sergeant, an E-6. In the second...taking place only a year or two or a few years at most later...he's a Chief Master Sergeant, an E-9 and the highest enlisted rank in the USAF. That drove me insane. Basically they looked at a high rank that sounded cool and gave it to him hoping the audience had no idea what it meant. I suppose it works for the average moviegoer, but it bothers the hell out of me. Nitpicky I guess.

Yeah big problem lol. But I hate when Hollywood does zero research on something (usually military related) and translates it onto the screen. It's not hard!

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