<Review by: Farzad Mistry>
Directed by Michael Bay. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer
Let me start by saying that I have been a fan of this franchise for atleast 20 years. It started out as an action packed cartoon show that captivated most kids who saw it in the 80s. There were various spin-offs from the original show but all were animated till Michael Bay decided to make the first Transformers film.
I have to admit that I never thought it would be possible to make a live action Transformers motion picture but he did and it was visually spectacular at the time. The script and dialogue have always been weak but it’s a Sci-fi action flick with giant transforming robots so nobody was looking for Oscar wining monologues anyway. The first three films had their flaws but were entertaining to a certain extent.
That brings me to the latest installment, Transformers: Age of Extinction. The film feels chaotic and confused. The action sequences are as visually impressive as the last three films with minor improvements. Honestly a few sequences looked like they had taken older footage and slightly modified it. The dialogue was laughably idiotic as if it had been written by a child.
The movie starts with a fleet of alien ships entering earth’s atmosphere during the age of the Dinosaurs and terra-forming the earth to suit their needs, causing the mass extinction of every living thing on earth in the process. Then we are taken to the present just after the last movie when a shadowy government agency headed by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is hunting down the Transformers so that an unscrupulous tech company owned by Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) can study them and create an army of transforming robots for the US military. All the transformers including the heroic Autobots are now in hiding because of this.
Mark Walberg’s character is a struggling inventor who is just the average single dad trying to get by with no money and a dream of inventing the next big thing. He buys an old semi-truck in the hopes that he can salvage some parts and put his teenage daughter (Nicola Peltz, not half as sexy as Megan Fox!) through college. But surprise surprise… its no ordinary truck it’s the Autobot leader Optimus Prime who was injured in battle and took such a form in the hopes that he would not be found. A friendship forms between the Transformer and the inventor. A series of typical action sequences follow with the surviving Autobots being reunited and fighting off the human’s Transformer army (created using ‘transformium’!) as well as the forces of an alien bounty hunter Transformer named Lockdown.
Sounds like your standard Tranformers plot right so where did it all go wrong? Let me list out a few of the issues:
1) The plot has several separate stories that don’t integrate together too well making the whole thing look messy and confused.
2) Many popular characters from the franchise like the Dinobots and Galvatron were introduced (totally disregarding the actual animated series origins stories) but given very little screen time and almost no dialogue.
3) The dialogue bordered on utter stupidity at times, making you wonder if the producers even watched the film to hear how silly it sounds. At the very least they could have thrown in one great inspiring monologue from Optimus Prime but he doesn’t even get decent one-liners.
4) The human characters aren’t even two dimensional they are just like unnecessary talking props who get way too much screen time. I don’t want to see Mark Walberg in so many fight sequences, I want to see Optimus Prime kick ass, that’s the whole point of the movie.
5) The length was another issue: it’s almost three hours long. That’s three hours of crappy dialogue, a senseless plot and recycled action sequences.
As a fan I could go on and on about the inconsistencies like how they show Optimus Prime being capable of interstellar flight when the Autobots claim that they are stuck on earth and need a spaceship to leave or how Optimus forges an alliance with the Dinobots after a battle with their leader made no sense at all.
Most of all I think the producers should spend less on big name stars like Mark Walberg to act in the film and get big stars to voice the transformers instead, its time they gave poor Bubble-bee his voice back. Or better yet save more money by using lesser know talented actors and invest a little money in actually coming up with a script and a plot that isn’t this embarrassingly stupid and mindless. All in all the film has almost no redeeming qualities and is by far the worst of the series (which is a task considering the deplorable Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen).
The movie even mocks itself with humour bitching about ‘horrible reboots’ and by the end of the film Stanley Tucci’s character basically makes fun of the ridiculousness of the plot of the film!
The only positive I can think of (and I really had to think hard) is the last battle sequence with the Dinobots fighting along-side the Autobots but by the time you get to that point in the film you are already so disappointed it does little to improve your mood. I would just like to end by saying that even though I am a fan of the franchise I couldn’t wait for this film to end and am hoping it will be the last.
PS: The third Transformers: Dark of the Moon film was by far the best of all of them. And Ken Watanabe’s Samurai Autobot is incoherent. Why they keep using Mr Watanabe in films when he is barely comprehensible is a mystery.