Early in Transformers: Age Of Extinction (they don’t want you to realize this is Transformers 4), Kelsey Grammer‘s character says “the age of the Transformers is over”. Clearly he is uninformed how franchises work. As long as the audience still comes, the Transformers will live on. So they are back again. Battling each other. Again.
Shia LaBeouf, who carried the first three films, is nowhere to be seen here. Instead, we have Mark Wahlberg, surprisingly taking over the franchise. Not that Wahlberg sticks to highbrow movies, but it’s unconventional to see a big movie star like this come into a big budget blockbuster for the fourth installment. Seeing Mark here is the enjoyable novelty of Age Of Extinction as it starts out.
He plays Cade Yeager, a Texas mechanic/self-proclaimed inventor who struggles to make ends meet while dealing with his horny 17-year-old teenage daughter (Nicola Peltz). When he goes into a shutdown movie theatre, he discovers an old truck. Not sure what a truck is doing in the middle of a movie theatre, but if you’re gonna start to question plot points at this point, you’re in big trouble. My favourites include “why does Mark Wahlberg look exactly the same (even down to the facial hair) in a photo where he’s holding his baby daughter who is now 17 years old?” and “why does her boyfriend show up in his car at their house to save the day?”. But back to the riveting story, Cade takes the truck home and soon discovers it’s actually Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, who has been in hiding ever since humans declared war on all robots.
Well, Optimus is forced out of hiding about 30 minutes into the movie, and so begins another 2+ hours of non-stop explosions, crashes, destruction, and hilarious dialogue. Some of my favourites were “I know things have been sucky later”, “My face is my warrant”, and “when you look to the stars, picture one is my soul”. Best Screenplay Oscar is definitely in the cards.
You do have to check your brain at the door for these flicks. No one is expecting thought-provoking dialogue and complex characters. People want to see things blow up and robots fight, and that’s what we get. To a certain point, it’s enjoyable, but it just never stops. You feel like you’re watching a 4-hour movie. The plot is endless, and scenes are just so random that it’ll leave a confused look on your face. From Stanley Tucci and Bingbing Li‘s motorcycle ride that seems pointless to Sophia Myles popping up as a fellow scientist who disappears in the middle of the action as quickly as she appears, the screenplay just stuffs everything it can in without any logic. And it fails miserably at inserting comedy into the proceedings, especially with Tucci’s character and T.J. Miller‘s Lucas. Both are meant for comic relief but neither gets one laugh from the audience.
There’s no reason that we have sacrifice good writing for action. Just take a look at this summer’s Edge Of Tomorrow, X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Godzilla. All well-written films with exciting action. Director Michael Bay just seems content on pumping out these sequels that are stupid, over-the-top extravaganzas. Oh well. The first film (that had a clear heavy influence from producer Steven Spielberg), was pretty fun, yeah? Let’s remember the good times.