Transformers: Age of Extinction

I enjoyed the first Transformers film. It’s mix of action, sense of discovery and a good Linkin Park song. made it a decent watch. It was great to see the Robots in Disguise up on the big screen.

Then Revenge of the Fallen came along and slapped me round the face with its giant wrecking balls. A complete waste of a midnight showing.

The crew made a big point of saying that they had learnt from the hard time Revenge had in production, and that the third film would get it all back on track. So once again I bought a ticket. Why did I bother. Dark of the Moon was another wreck that used bombastic visuals to cover up a shocker of a story.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. I said I’d never go back unless they “did something awesome like introduce the Dinobots”.

So what did they go and do? They said there’d be Dinobots! The bastards. They knew what would get me back. But I’ve learnt. They won’t get any money this time. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. But the temptation was there.

Then the trailer came out and I saw a Dinobot for the first time. No no no NO NO NO. All of a sudden it was a lot easier to decide I wasn’t going to the cinema, because that was definitely not Grimlock getting bitch slapped by Optimus Prime. Yes I know I sound a like a butthurt fanboy but Grimlock has been my favourite Transformer since I was 3 (I still have my G1 toy). It could have been a great moment. It was not.

Yesterday I finally saw it. I’d heard about the massive performance but terrible critical response. I expected to finish it feeling very angry. In the end however the film was so poor that I couldn’t be bothered to get riled up. This might be a new trilogy with new characters but it’s full of the same mistakes.

A crazy running time filled with a nonsense story and human characters I didn’t care about. Putting glasses on Mark Wahlberg and making him an inventor who’s handy with a rifle (OK that’s a new one). Transformers shoehorned in to look cool. So much going on that you just become numb to the action however cool it is.

Though it’s stupid to make him an inventor Wahlberg is always likeable and I can’t fault him. He’s the only human I even remotely cared about. His daughter and her boyfriend are completely forgettable. I can’t even remember their names.

Stanley Tucci! I love this guy. He’s at least going for it and seems aware of the type of film he’s in. Then there is Kelsey Grammar. Between this and Expendables 3 I’m not sure what he’s up to. Does he just fancy a giggle on some fun but terrible sets? Who knows.

The rest of the cast don’t do anything wrong really. They’re just not given anything good to do.

It’s not long until we see the Transformers, with a pretty brutal execution of one of the heroes from the first trilogy. When it comes time to see Optimus (with a nice call back to his original truck form in the cartoon) he’s a much darker chap. Though I understood this jarring new attitude I always look to him expecting ‘Freedom is the right of all sentient beings’ and not ‘I’ll kill you all!’. The other Autobots seem pretty jaded too and need some convincing to do the right thing.

Through the film we’re introduced to a lot of new Cybertronians. There’s Lockdown; a bounty hunter with a gun for a face. Then there’s Galvatron (if you know who that is don’t get too excited).  Neither are given much time to get their characterisation across other than ‘bad guy’. There are several new Autobots, and then there are the Dinobots. Or not. They aren’t explained, aren’t even named and barely talk. Merely thrown in to look cool at the end. For one of the most well known and beloved groups of Transformers it’s just not good enough. The way the characters are set up (barely) and used (easy fix), they could have been anyone. Instead these massive beasts are nothing more than gargantuan muscle that usefully appears at the right time.

At 2 hours and 40 minutes this is a ridiculously long film. You could easily trim it down to 2 hours and it would make as much sense. Government agents, man-made Transformers, the hint of transformer creators and Dad/Daughter relationships. It’s not handled well and just becomes convoluted, jumping from thread to thread as you’re stunned into submission with explosions.

I’ve rambled on for a long time so let me wrap this up. If you like the previous trilogy you’ll love this film. It’s a visual spectacle and I’m sure it would have wowed plenty of people on the big screen. The Transformers look great and this time you can actually tell who is who in the battles! It’s all a ruse though. Beneath that shiny veneer is a mess of a film that treats none of its characters with respect.

Age of Extinction has the same writer as the last two films. Maybe that says it all.

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