1-22 - Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS: Age Of ExtinctionParamount Pictures
2014
PG-13

I may have started the apocalypse, but you brought your family. And that’s you know, terrible parenting.”

Transformers: Age Of Extinction begins after an epic battle left a great city torn, but with the world saved. As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history. While an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs. With help from a new cast of humans, Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet. In an incredible adventure, they are swept up in a war of good and evil, ultimately leading to a climactic battle across the world.

You know, I can’t really recall there being all that big of a demand for a fourth Transformer’s movie. Matter of fact, after Dark Of The Moon, it looked like we were spared any lingering threat of another sequel in Michael Bay’s ongoing live-action Transformers franchise, after both Shia LaBeouf and Michael Bay announced they weren’t returning for any potential sequel. Names were bandied about to take Bay’s place—including Bay’s spiritual forerunner of big, dumb ‘splosions movies: Ronald Emerich—but then Bay came back to bring us another overly-long summer blockbuster full of giant robots, forgettable human characters, and things going boom. So, there’s that. But, it does have Marky Mark and a Megan Fox analogue, an Irish-accented Fast and the Furious reject, and a mindless surfer dued. But then again, there is Kelsey Grammer as a CIA guy with a vendetta against all Transformers…

What I’m trying to get at, here, is Transformers: Age Of Extinction wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Keep in mind, this is still a big-budget Michael Bay movie. Take that as you will.

This time out, due to the aftermath of the events in Dark Of The Moon, all Transformers are considered Persona non-Grata. Technically, the Autobots have amnesty, what with saving our collective hides from the Decepticons, rather ambitious CIA head is hurting both Autobot and Decepticon fugitive, aided by a mercenary whose family perished in the Battle of Chicago in the previous movie, and a mysterious Transformer who is neither Autobot or Decepticon, but is working for an ancient entity known as The Creator. Also, a CEO for a highly successful tech company has been backwards-engineering the dead Transformers for profit. You know, for that all-important self-righteous indignation factor. Meanwhile, Marky Mark is a plucky yet down-on-his-luck inventor type who buys junk and turns it into other things that mostly do not work properly. He stumbles across the damaged husk of Optimus Prime, and despite the protestations of his teenage daughter and surfer dude partner, decides to keep Optimus a secret from the government and fix him up himself. Faster than you can say “contrived plot twist,” the voice of Sideshow Bob discovers Marky Mark’s subterfuge, and next thing you know they’re all on the run from Warrant Face and Lamborgini Bot. Optimus rallies the other four remaining Autobots out of hiding to make a final stand against these unprovoked attacks. Meanwhile, back in Movie Subplot D, Lex Luthor’s whinier doppelganger has essentially created Galvatron with Megatron’s leftovers, along with a couple more bots to complete the collection. Problem is, Megatron’s essence infected the Galvatron model, putting in his essence in a shiny new body. Wackiness ensues, Dinobots finally show up in the final quarter (sadly, no “ME, GRIMLOCK SOMETHING-SOMETHING” was ever uttered) collateral damage skyrockets, and then Optimus leaves to go find The Creator. The end.

As I mentioned earlier, Transformers: Age Of Extinction wasn’t as bad as it could have been. And by that, I mean comparatively to the other Transformers movies. Age Of Extinction could have been much, much worse. What this movie has going for it is the big action effects, and at least pairing down the robot count to a handful on both sides so that they didn’t start blurring together too badly. And the Dinobots were cool, though lacking any sort of personality distinction beyond smashy-smashy. And there is no faulting the always awesome Kelsey Grammer here. His performance always shines, no matter what the dreck he’s handed. He would make reciting the periodic table riveting.

The same, unfortunately, could not be aid of the rest of the cast. I’ve heard it said that Michael Bay movies don’t have characters so much as they have archetypes, which here is the nice way of saying “cookie-cutter stereotype.” And here, we get to see it with our own eyes yet again: We got the Plucky Underdog dad, his Scantily Dressed Eyecandy daughter, her chower-headed boyfriend (who seemed to have stepped off of a Fast & Furious cosplay session), trenchcoat wearin’ and bad one-liner spoutin’ henchmen (one of which used the phrase “My face is my warrant!” in a way that made me have to pause the movie and take a break from the stupid), and…aaaaaah, my brain feels like it wants to leak out of my nose and ear holes just for thinking back on this movie to write the review.

Let’s just end this here and put it out of our misery: Transformers Age Of Extinction is yet another steamy mess of big mindless action and not much else. And yet, somehow we all forget that these are what they are, and continue to come back and watch whatever new one is out, making them oodles of money, and thereby guaranteeing our continued torture by making the studios green light more sequels, thinking this is what we want. Pass on this one. Pass it like the stinky, deadly fart it is.

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