There be Spoilers Ahead
I started writing yesterday but just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Anyway, here it is a day late. Enjoy.
Yesterday, I saw Transformers: Age of Extinction or “Michael Bay is the reason we’re not allowed nice things” as it should also be known (thank you, random twitter person for that one).
Just quickly, here’s some facts about me:
I’m a child of the 80s.
I love the original Transformers cartoons and movies.
Grimlock is, and always will be, my favourite character.
The story follows Cade Yeager (a delightfully buff Marky Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). An “Inventor” by trade, Cade buys an old truck to strip for parts only to discover it’s an injured Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). Optimus is in hiding and all the Transformers are being hunted by an elite CIA unit, Cemetery Ward. The CIA have also teamed up with Lockdown, a big meanie of a Transformer who sometimes has a gun for a face.
Cemetery Ward, headed by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) and James “my-face-is-my-warrant” Savoy (Titus Welliver), show up as casa del Cade and there’s a bit of a scuffle followed by a pointless 20 minute car chase (a teen pointed out that it will look “wicked cool” in the game though). Oh, and we’re introduced to Shane “Lucky Charms” Dyson (Jack Reynor) as Tessa’s Irish boyfriend and the start of some mild racism.
As the film progresses, we learn that Cemetery Ward are working with KSI, a corporation specialising in robotics. The head of KSI, Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) has perfected.. wait for it.. Transformium, the metal the Transformers are made of. Boom. Great out of the box thinking there Mr Bay. Joyce has also quite recklessly created Galvatron from Megatron’s remains.
Optimus meets up with the few remaining Autobots: Bumblebee (Mark Ryan), Hound (John Goodman, a fat Autobot Commando), Crosshairs (John DiMaggio, an Autobot with a coat) and Drift (an ever so slightly racist stereotype Samurai – which is surprising as he’s voiced by brilliant actor Ken Watanbe). They break in to KSI, Prime loses his shit and the Autobots storm out in a hissy fit. This is followed by an all too brief Prime/Galvatron fight before Galvy, yeah I said Galvy, buggers off and Prime and Tessa get caught by Lockdown.
You keeping up? Great.
Lockdown reveals his “trophy room” of weird aliens which houses *dun dun duuuh* Dinobots! He picks up the “seed” (a small device that can “cyberform” large areas of land, turning it in to Transformium) and the human characters (bet you almost forgot about them) jump on the ship to rescue Tessa. The Autobots go with them, release Prime and the Dinobots, then high tail it out of there.
The Autobots finally click that Galvy is Megatron and he’s been using KSI to get the seed for himself. Cade tells Joyce, who runs off to Hong Kong.. because of reasons. Galvy again briefly reappears and we finally get a fairly decent fight scene. Then Galvy runs away. Like a prissy girl. I’m noticing a trend here.
Lockdown shows up. The Dinobots finally roll out, albeit all to briefly, and promptly get left to defend a bridge that is never approached by anyone. Prime kills a human. A human helps Prime kill Lockdown. Blah blah blah blah. The day is saved. The Dinobots are set free, Prime buggers off with the seed and Galvy vows vengeance, shaking his fist at the sky.. ok the fist bit doesn’t happen.. but it should!
Throughout the film, there was a group of teenage boys to my right who displayed pure youthful enthusiasm and joy. It made me jealous and sad. There’s going to be a whole generation of kids who think that this is ok. That this is what Transformers are. Shame on you, Michael Bay. Shame!
The biggest difference between this and previous Transformers films, aside from it being almost 3 hours long, is that Bay has found the slo-mo button on his camera and my god, he isn’t afraid to use it. A lot. I honestly think the film could have been at least an hour shorter if not for the slo-mo and all the scenes where someone is stood looking thoughtful while a country track plays in the background.
In one way, Bay has learnt from the criticism surrounding Transformers 3. He doesn’t try and introduce quite so many of his own Transformers but, unfortunately, has bastardisedthe ones he’s kept. Slag has been renamed Slug, due to obvious British slang reasons, Prime has become hell-bent on killing humans and Strafe (a Technobot) has morphed into a strange version of Swoop (a Dinobot). There’s no clear distinction between the Autobots and Decepticons and too many plot points are just there to set up the next film.. and the one after that. I love the Transformers and thought the first in this series was really good. The second one was ok but by the third and now this, Michael Bay has clearly lost his marbles and is just running loose with half-formed ideas.
If you’re a teenage boy or new to the franchise, it’s possible that you might enjoy this. Tucci is brilliant in his role and Wahlberg’s arms are endlessly distracting. It was also good to see Grimlock on the big screen again, although I wish they’d been used more. If, like me, you’re a fan of the original series.. I’d maybe steer clear – or at least wait for it to come out on Netflix.
Marks out of 10 – 3 and that’s all for the Dinobots.