Everyone has a love/hate relationship with comes with Michael Bay movies. Although it’s mostly hate, depending on who you’re talking to.
Let’s be honest. When it was announced that there was going to be another Transformers movie with Michael Bay yet again at the helm, there was a collective groan that went out through the fandom. The Transformers movie franchise has become something of a Hollywood joke over the years, mostly so with hardcore fans. With Michael Bay’s “creative mind and his unfunny jokes that seem to have no end and his unflattering and near constant use of negative stereotypes, he managed to take something so beloved and referred and turned into something so hated and despised that fans what to take to the streets in protest. Yet, there’s is also no denying that, despite what the haters might say, the proof is in the box office that with every Transformers movies, there is major profit.
Yes, no matter how we may feel about Michael Bay’s films, they’ve become something of a guilty pleasure that we cannot help but to indulge. And certainly, the Transformers is no exception. The newest release in the franchise, Transformers : Age of Extinction, may just as be as loud and bombastic as it previous films. But what about the story? What about the characters? Normally, these things aren’t all that important in Michael Bay movies but…
Okay, no more negativity! Let’s take a look!
Oh dear, where to begin. Hang on people. Cause this one kinda goes everywhere.
“The age of the Transformers is over.”
These are the ominous words spoken by the movie’s villain (at least one of them) Harold Attinger (played by Kelsey Grammer) a paranoid and power hungry CIA agent whose goal is eliminate all Transformers from Earth. F our years following the battle of Chicago in the previous movie, the world is now completely aware of the presence of aliens and it’s people like Attinger who plans on using the public’s fear to help promote of complete eradication of all Autobots all in the name of safety. A sort of fear campaign is launched against the once believed saviors, making them enemy #1.
Enter Cemetery Wind (my god, that’s a stupid name), a military group of soldiers who trained with orders to take down any Transformers they see with extreme prejudice. To help them, an alliance is formed with the military and the bounty hunter Lockdown whose main goal is find the Autobot leader Optimus Prime and return him to his original creators. Because of this threat, what remains of the Autobot forces have gone into hiding.
That’s side story number one.
Meanwhile, in the fields of Texas, we are introduced to Cade Yeager (played Mark Wahlberg), a struggling inventor who wants nothing more to build something, anything, that works for once in his life. Along side him, is his not so encouraging team that is his goofy business partner Lucas and his daughter Tessa. After purchasing an old truck in hopes of striping it for parts, Cade makes the discovery that not only has he purchased a transformer in disguise but it just so happens to be the Autobot leader himself! Wounded from an ambush, Optimus reluctantly allows Cade to rebuild him and get him back on his feet in hopes of getting back to his team before the military does. Unfortunately, the awesomeness of finding out you just bought THE Optimus Prime for $20 is short lived. Soon, the guys in black suits and long guns come a-calling. Threatening to murder Cade’s daughter, they demand to know where the Autobot leader is. Left with very little option, Optimus reveals himself and thus Cade and his daughter (oh, and her boyfriend who ironically enough is also a race-car driver) are now fugitives from the law who must find a way not just to save themselves but the remaining Autobots as well.
Story number three reveals a rather sinister and disturbing plot as to a dark interest the military has in systematically slaughtering Autobots. Which, thinking about it now really makes no seanse so I’ll just give you the quick version. In a joined agreement with Attinger, Joshua Joyce, a sort of Steve Jobs like man, plans on using the remains of dead Transformers, melting them down to create transforium (sigh), a codeable, molecularly yet unstable metal that can transform into anything. He plans on using this metal for profit in cheap product creation, but the military also plans on using the metal to create their own version of the Transfomers, one that the government can control.
Okay I’m just gonna stop here because going into any more detail is making my head hurt.
Believe or not, there is some good things about this movie. Unlike in the first three movies where Shia “I’m not famous anymore” LaBeouf was more or less the hero, Mark Wahlberg does a fairly dissent job as his replacement. Where LaBeouf spent majority of three movies running and screaming “nonononono” or “BUMBLEBEE” in just about every scene, where he needed by constantly rescued by a Special Ops team, Wahlberg needs none of that.
Walhberg can hold his own in a fight, whether it’s going rounds with the jarhead who threatened to kill his little girl in front of him or if it’s actually fighting hand-to-hand with the building size Lockdown. It took three movies to finally get someone who didn’t feel like more of a burden than a team player and for that, I can honestly say that that’s one of the factors that saved the movie for me. Walhberg can hold his own in a fight and for that, CHEERS!!
In terms of character, I found the change of Optimus Prime’s personality from a lion heart, do-gooder into a revenge-seeking angry Autobot somewhere refreshing. And when I say revenge-seeking, I’m not saying the once the leader of the Autobot is out murdering those that wronged his kind by the millions. Although mid way in the movie, I was starting to feel he was well within his right to do so. This Optimus Prime is disillusioned, hopeless and feeling betrayed by those he swore to protect. Not only has he seen his comrade in arms be gunned down one-by-one, but also he witnesses their remains burned, their souls (or sparks) ripped from their bodies and crushed, and then later melted down into bits to make junk products like Ipads and smart phones. This Optimus feels there is no hope for mankind and their fate is better left to themselves.
Under normal circumstances, this level of dramatic change in such a well-beloved character wouldn’t normally sit well with me. But as I said, midway into the movie, I felt the change was justified. I gotta say; watching the military take down an Autobot (especially one that I recognized from previous movies) was practically hard to see and was especially uncomfortable. Humanity is definitely made out to be the bad guy in this movie, and having Optimus pushed to the point where he’s at “screw you guys, I’m going home”, made me sort-of appreciate the strange innocence that the last movies had.
Thankfully this time, Optimus is no push over. One of my biggest pet peeves in all three movies was how easily defeated Optimus was and just how much he had his ass handed to him only to have to be saved or resurrected by Shia LaBeouf. That…was just all kinds of wrong for me. This time, some of the best fights scenes is of Optimus kicking ass in a complete rage of “I’ve had enough your shit”. Just like with Walhberg, he’s no pushover and has a giant sword and dinosaur mount to prove it.
Humor has always been one of those things you come to expect in Michael Bay movies and most of time, it’s hit or miss. Lately, it’s been more miss. This time though, I felt that humor wasn’t so “hit you over the head”. There were moments that a joke tended to go on more than it should or that it just wasn’t funny, yes. But other times, they were genuinely funny. Most of the praise must go to Stanley Tucci who plays Joshua Joyce. I found myself laugh at him more times than I did with Shia LaBeouf.
And now we’ve come to the part I’m sure everyone has been looking forward to. While there’s a lot wrong with this movie, and I do mean A LOT, I’ll only go through some of the major issues that completely hindered the movie.
First off, plot holes.
GOOD LORD, DOES THIS MOVIE HAVE PLOT HOLES!!
The movie feels very bogged down too much plot and not enough explanation and hardly any motivation among its characters. For example when it came to the alliance between the military and Transformer bounty hunters, there was never any reasoning behind that. Or even as to how the alliance was formed in the first place. Lockdown just kinda…shows up and we’re made to conclude that at some point, he and Attinger met and decided, “Hey! Let’s go kill us some Autobots!”
Even for what the two gained from such an agreement was rarely if ever touched upon. Each of them has a goal to be gained from the Autobot’s extinction but it’s never thoroughly talked about or explained.
Why was Lockdown killing Autobots and looking for Optimus?
For The Creators?
Who are the Creators?
Why does Attinger feel that killing the Autobots was the best interest of American safety?
Are we to believe that the world would be completely on board with this, even after seeing the Autobots risk their lives for humanity? Yes, there are some scene where there is some clear prejudice against the Autobots but even then, it doesn’t fit the believable notion that all the world finds them evil. I mean, what happened to events of the first three movies? Did we forget all the good the Autobots did? Even more so, what about the president? In one scene, we are shown a representative of president talking to Attinger about this very thing, and questioning why the Autobots must be destroyed if they were the ones that saved us. Attinger simply replies that Autobots poise a great threat and must be dealt with. End of conversation.
Uh…no. Not only is that poor writing, but are we to assume that the president, the Commander-in-chief, would by that sort of logic without some sort of inquiry with the Autobots themselves? Rather than leave the matter up to one CIA agent, who by the way is on the verge of retirement and doesn’t even report directly to the president? Oh yeah, did I forge to mention that most of these attacks are done without any clearance from the president?
If plot holes weren’t the biggest problems, a cluttered script is another thing. There is a lot going on in this movie. Almost too much. You have the extinction of the Autobots, along with the greedy CIA agent in co-hoots with the greedy business genius, topped off with the bounty hunter seeking his prey, some rogue transformers built from the remains for Megatron , along with a father trying to do right by his daughter and just a dash of some dinobots thrown in there to make the movie even longer. With all that, it’s no wonder that the movie runs at nearly THREE AND A HALF HOURS!! Honestly, there is so much going on in this movie and there’s no clear direction of just what is going on,, I found myself lost more times than I care to count.
So you think that with all that I would give this movie a bad review?
Oh, don’t get me wrong. This movie is a cluster. It has no direction or motivation in terms of characters or writing. Way too many plot holes and unanswered questions. While the battle scenes are great and fantastic, it takes a long time to get there. The characters aren’t relatable and can be boring majority of the time. Plus there’s the extensively long running time.
However, and this is my personal take away from all this, I’ve come to accept Michael Bay’s movies, especially Transformers as they are. I don’t go to these expecting Casablanca by any means. I go to them expecting big robots fight each other, that’s all. So in some retrospect, I got what I paid for. So I’m not too upset at the turnout as I’m sure Michael Bay isn’t upset at the enormous weekend pay-out. Frankly, I enjoyed the movie for what I went there to see.
For die-hard fans, don’t go to see this movie and expect to see any change from the past three.
For fans like me who stopped caring, meh, maybe you’ll get lucky and find something to like as I did.
OVER ALL VERDICT = D-