I know it’s not the natural opinion of a critic to enjoy the Transformers movies, but I have to say that generally I enjoy Michael Bay’s adaptation of a story which is based solely on toys made by Hasbro. However after watching the latest iteration of the series; Transformers: Age of Extinction, I have to say that my opinions may have somewhat changed since that last time I seen the Decepticons and the Autobots on the big screen.
Based several years after the 2011 edition of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction picks up from the battle of Chicago, which laid much of the city to waste, and ended up changing the opinions of both the humans and the Autobots entirely.
With humanity convinced that all Transformers are bad, the humans set out their own task force to hunt down the remaining Decepticons and force them off planet Earth. Well that was the plan anyway, what actually happens is that a CIA agent named Kelsey Grammer decided that there would be no peace unless all of the Transformers were taken out, and as such the black ops team that was sent to destroy the Decepticons, ends up hunting the Autobots too, all under the nose of the president and the rest of the world.
But that’s not all, in order to tie things in with a bad guy, this CIA black ops team actually ends up teaming up with a robot bounty hunter named Lockdown, who is on a mission to find and bring back a number of Transformers to their creators (a bunch of people/ robots/ aliens who have yet to be explained to us).
This is where one of the biggest problems with Age of Extinction lies, as for some strange reason (more than likely the urge to make a sequel), none of the characters, including Lockdown are explained to us at all, Lockdown literally pops up from no where at the start, with no prior explanation or warning.
And the problems only continue when you meet the new main human characters, a single dad Cade Yeager and his 17-year old daughter, Tessa.
To give you some basis, Cade is a wannabe inventor who can’t really build much of anything, but likes to think that one day he will build something useful, and Tessa is his wannabe something daughter (her wanted profession wasn’t explained), who hopes that after graduating she will somehow get into University, despite her growing list of financial aid disapprovals. Paramount ties them into the story by moulding some story where Cade finds himself picking up scraps in an abandoned movie theater, where for some strange reason he finds a broken-down semi truck.
Cade obviously buys that truck, tries to repair it and then find that it was Optimus Prime all along.
After being forced to hide out for some time, stricken with the ever growing list of fallen comrades, Optimus wakes up seeking revenge on the humans for what they have done to his fellow Transformers, shortly after which the humans and Optimus fled the house from Grammer’s CIA hit squad, team up with the remaining Autobots and plot their revenge on a company called KSI, who they find to be building their own Autobot clones using a element called “Transformium” (yes, it’s really called transformium).
Optimus is of course outraged by this, but quickly gets over he desperation to kill the human that is the cause of the death of his comrades, in what I can only guess to be a way of lengthening the plot.
The story only gets stranger as the film continues, characters will change their opinions and values in a second, without no real convincing, and then suddenly leave or get plucked in from somewhere else without any backstory or context, in fact most of this film’s 2 and a half running time is filled with action scenes that we don’t really need to see, constantly switching from one place to another, leaving the viewer ultimately confused as to what the heck is going on.
Thankfully not all of the film is completely pointless, and we see a pretty good interaction between Cade’s colleague and Cade that could have become something that the viewer could understand, however shortly after his introduction, we are left with Cade, his daughter and his daughter’s a boyfriend, the latter of the which seems to undermine the story that was created in the first hour of the film, all of which Bay tries to cover up with a number of explosions all succeeding from each other.
All in all however, the films slow-motion explosions are nothing short of amazing, and when put in the right place they really work to the film’s advantage. And not only that, the effects in the film by Industrial Light & Magic looks better than before, however not still without its own problems, and there’s still a lot of weird sounds coming from the Transformers, one of the worst being Optimus’s weird electronic sound that happens when he talks.
However were the film really gets things in detail is its product placement, I noticed a number of sections where characters would suddenly interact with products from the real world, like Bud Lite, IMAX, Victoria’s Secret, and even drop in a weird slogan, just like it was a 60 second commercial placed after a short program.
But despite this, I know that this film will continue to do well in the box office, and I am sure a lot of viewers will go out to watch this film this summer, and maybe even enjoy it, however without more compelling characters, and a storyline that is frankly interesting, this film will never be looked at with a good critical review.