This weekend, I took it upon myself as ritual to see the fourth installment in what I’m now calling, the robotic Transformers franchise. That should not be mistaken for an intentional pun, as the newest entry in the series seems full of predictable processes and unimaginative story. Age of Extinction does not strive to be more than its predecessors, but rather just more of them and that ultimately falls flat across the board.
I went in with high hopes that this Transformers movie would act as a reboot and perhaps go into a new direction. How wrong would I be nearly 3 hours later. The movie introduces to several new characters that honestly feel more as cheap knockoffs than original creations. In fact, you could say this movie is several other films wrapped up in a Transformer package. Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager is a poor man’s Tony Stark, and he has the rebellious teenage daughter who has a thing for bad boys. I wish there was more to divulge or dissect, but the matter of fact is that there is not. The blandness and forgetability of the characters is a weakpoint in the film.
Transformers films were never about the humans though, they’re about the gigantic alien robots who happen to prefer the form of vehicles. On that front, they deliver us a new cast of robots and explain why some of the prior ones don’t appear. It was harder to get to know these new Autobots, except Hound who was a standout addition, as their appearances were only there to drive the plot forward, rather than have us get attached. Optimus was an entirely different character than the other films, except for the fact he constantly needed reminded humans could be more than what they were…again. This 180 from the prior trilogy seemed off kilter and not quite Optimus-y.
The big draw to the film for me was the Dinobots, right? As Jim Gaffigan would say, two great things don’t always equal a better result. Transformers, good! Dinosaurs, great! Dinobots in Age of Extinction, lackluster crap. They were the ultimate plot device to help the heroes succeed, rather than actually bring anything new to the game. It is very akin to Revenge of the Fallen’s spiritual robot scene, only there to achieve an end result.
Also, to once again harp on the Transformers, the new manmade Transformers brought a new, visually unappealing way for the robots to be in disguise. This unimaginatively named Transformium (better than unobtainium) wielded a brand new army of robots that exist as robot legos and ruin the transforming fun the original ones possess. It took the magic out of the film’s main attraction and I will be sorely disappointed if they carry forward with this new style.
To this end, I find Transformers: Age of Extinction to be a 2 hour and 40 minute below average film that could have been more. Perhaps it was my nostalgia or naievety that brought me to the theater, but I finally think I’ve grown too old for the toys turned blockbuster. If the next film follows this trend, it’ll be 20 minutes longer, just as confusing, and lacking any real merit. But the Dinobots bring us closer to seeing Beast Wars, right? As my brother wisely said, “Optimus better’d come back as a gorilla next time.” and I couldn’t agree more.