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Movie Review: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' (2014) Starring Mark Wahlberg

While the human cast has traded off slightly for “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” it’s still fairly inconsequential to the primary focus of the film. Coupled with several other notable faults pinpointed in former entries, which continue to plague the series, and it’s evident that not much has changed. An egregious amount of attention is again afforded to the special effects, embellishing the action sequences in more and more grandiose fashions, but the moments in between grow correspondingly less intelligent.

The majority of characters involved are insipid to an extreme, giving the impression that an unwritten rule exists mandating that the prettier the face, the worse the associated dialogue. But director Michael Bay aims for the stars with his visuals, furnishing no doubt that the sheer scope of humans fighting giant robots fighting even bigger robots fighting dinosaurs will thrill those who value explosions over credible plots and character development. Exploring the Transformers origins and integrating fresh otherworldly designs into the mythology are a step in the right direction, but little else found in this installment leans towards anything meaningful.

Five years have passed since the invasion of Chicago and the U.S. government’s abolishment of joint combat operations with the Autobots. Scattered and forced into hiding, several new threats have arisen against the noble robotic aliens and the humans that strive to aid them. When struggling inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) unwittingly awakens a damaged Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), his desire to help the Transformer places his daughter Tessa’s (Nicola Peltz) life in jeopardy by power-hungry CIA commander Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) and the dangerous galactic bounty hunter in his employ. With the help of Autobots Drift (Ken Watanabe), Crosshairs (John DiMaggio), Hound (John Goodman), Bumblebee, and a group of ancient warriors, Optimus Prime and Cade must not only attempt to stop Attinger and his nefarious plan to exterminate all alien life, but also thwart billionaire inventor Joshua Joyce’s (Stanley Tucci) project to build his very own Transformers.

As if to heed the advice of “22 Jump Street” from a couple of weeks earlier, this new chapter of the Transformers franchise is taking many of the ideas from the previous films and recycling them for what feels like just another episode of a television series. It’s entirely more of the same. Obviously, the budget and special effects far eclipse anything on TV, but the storylines, characters, and pacing aren’t far removed from such series of sci-fi-oriented programs. There are far too many subplots for a single feature and far too many supporting characters, all of who receive numerous lines of dialogue that do nothing more than drag out an already unbearable running time. At least, the inclusion of dinosaur-like robots (Dinobots!) winningly introduces concepts toymaker Hasbro has been integrating into the sizable Transformers lore.

Although the visuals are intense and impressive, with a few Autobot showdowns exhibiting exhilarating levels of destruction (and some fresh, engaging environments and structures for battlegrounds), it’s all of the human elements that grow most tiresome - incredibly fast. The generic scripting, unoriginal backchat, and overdramatized emotions are nearly unwatchable, as several vapid roles seem cast solely for physical attractiveness. Indeed, director Michael Bay has once again hired a largely unknown, young female model as the lead love interest, costumed in extra short shorts and revealing tops. Additionally, sexy women pop up from time to time to flash brief skin like something out of a provocative commercial (including a leggy woman in an elevator and a foursome of Joyce’s assistants in skirts and heels).

Supplementing the unnecessary details are scenes of Bay’s signature slow motion, overdone to the point of grating obnoxiousness. It’s excruciating to see efforts spent on pointless trivialities like a variety of added Transformer ethnicities, cabbaged conceptualizations from “Independence Day,” and stunts so outlandish that no fleshly entity could possibly survive them (let alone initiate them). These divagations allow the omission of relevant factors, such as adequately bridging the gap between the Chicago invasion and the band of Texas commoners, elaborating on the insultingly inexplicit enemy capabilities, and touching upon the CIA Black Ops conducts that are dismissed with annoyingly uninspired “don’t ask” vagueness.

- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)