Is the Transformers movie series on the Edge of Extinction?
Tranformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth entry in the Michael Bay directed Transformers movie series. Though the third entry, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, was an improvement over the second entry, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, neither of these two sequels were able to capture the magic of the initial entry. After two lackluster sequels, the series was on life support, and it needed to evolve in order to avoid extinction.
Age of Extinction takes place a few years after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, where Chicago was devastated in a clash between the Autobots and the evil Decepticons. The Autobots saved the planet from certain destruction, but the horrific and traumatic events of the battle caused humans to lose confidence and trust in any of the Transformers. Autobots and the remaining Decepticons have gone into hiding, as they are now being hunted and executed by human strike forces. All hope for the Transformers, and the series, lies in hands of a new cast of humans led by inventor, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), who happens upon a deactivated Optimus Prime early in the movie.
While I appreciated the change in the human cast members, the writers did nothing with the plot to evolve or move the series forward. I could not shake the feeling that I have seen this movie before. It feels like the same movie that I have already seen three times. This movie is plagued by the same problems that Michael Bay and the crew failed to address with the first sequel. Thie plot is simplistic and predictable. Human finds and befriends alien robot, they run from the government, there is a highway chase scene and battle, heroes develop a plan to stop big-time enemy alien plot, there is a big final battle, Optimus Prime gives a speech over inspirational music, and the end credits roll. If you sprinkle in the occassional gratuitous body shot of the scantly clad female supporting character, then you pretty much have a summary of the series plot. The plot remains to be juvenile, and the product placement in Age of Extinction was so blatant, that it was almost insulting.
The main problem I have always had with the live action Transformers movie series, is that the Transformers are always the co-stars in their own movies, taking a back seat to the human characters. Mark Wahlberg is a fine actor, but I was not interested in seeing story about his character's relationship with his rebellious daughter. There was never an effort to develop any Transformer outside of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in the live action series. Bumblebee seemed to have a minimal role in the Age of Extinction, and the noble Optimus Prime wants nothing to do with humans. On a couple of occassions, Prime actually expresses his intent to kill humans. This is not the Optimus Prime that I remember. Transformers fan favorites like Star Scream, Soundwave, Ravage, Jazz, Ratchet, and Iron Hide have only made cameos in the series. Since there is no emphasis on the robot characters for which the series is based, the movie audience is never able to gain an emotional attachment to them. When a Transformer falls in battle, its no big deal, so there is no real drama surrounding most of the movies' battles. Making their onscreen cameos in this movie were the Dinobots (Transformers that transform into robot dinosaurs). They were a bright spot of the movie for long-time Transformers fans, and their action sequences were some of the best in the entire series. Seeing Optimus Prime battle Grimlock in live-action was awesome. Unfortunately, the Dinobots did not get much screen time, and the audience was not treated to the fun back-and-forth interaction between them, that longtime Transformers fans are used to.
The movie runs at two hours and thirty-seven minutes, which is close to three hours. I don't mind a long movie, however, there were some scenes from this movie (involving the human characters) that could have been shortened or edited out to trim a few minutes off the total running time. While some of the special effects are great to see on the jumbo theater screen, a trip to the movie theater is an expensive proposition. Unless you are a big-time Transformers fan, or feel obligated to see every movie in the series, I would suggest that you wait for the home video release of this movie.
+ Great Special Effects. Dinobots Were Cool.
- Too Juvenile. Too Predictable. Too Little Focus on the Transformers. Bad Product Placement. Too Long.