TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
DIRECTOR: Michael Bay
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor
RUNNING TIME: 165 minutes
CLASSIFICATION: PG 13
IT’S A long time since we last saw the ’80s cel-shaded Transformer cartoons. It was a special time because as kids that meant we could get the toys and t-shirts that came with the success of the show.
However, that generation is all grown up and perhaps the only cartoon that still lingers from back then is The Simpsons. It would really be sad to see a 30-something-year-old sitting through a Transformers cartoon today.
Michael Bay saw this lack of interest and with the right technology managed to resurrect a title that had long been rusting in the back of our minds.
With cool visual effects and a believable cast which included the animated Shia LaBeouf, the sexy Megan Fox and singer Tyrese Gibson among others, we dreamt of an eternity with this franchise’s storyline. But as time went on, the story got watered down with each subsequent movie and Age of Extinction is no exception.
Don’t get me wrong, it is still a great movie, but by Bay’s standards it falls slightly short. Let’s look at what the director got right before we zoom in on what could have been improved.
The story follows a new threat on the autobots. A US weapons company is hunting all robots in order to terminate them so that they can make their own machines for use in future wars.
If you are a fan of visual effects you will know that Bay does not hold back. Right from the opening sequence there are a number of cool graphics that will make you fall in love with the film even if it’s your first of the franchise.
Obviously, Bay had a large budget to play with and the robots look as slick as ever. Still on good looks, and as with the previous films, the cars from which the robots originate are something out of a Top Gear collector’s edition. Bay knows his vehicles and his fans respond well to that.
Knowing that Fox’s presence in the film will be missed, Bay replaced her with Nicola Peltz whose only handicap is the fact that she is only 17.
Speaking of missing, you will feel the loss of LaBeouf’s comical presence and again, to make up for that you have Stanley Tucci who, if you’ve followed his career, you’d know is capable of satire.
As a story, the fourth Transformers instalment pushes the bar by not being constrained to time and place. So there is a time when viewers find themselves in the dinosaur era and while the fight begins on US soil, it moves to China and several other places, making for great landscape scenes.
That’s more or less what’s good with the film, now to the bad. Okay, so the one thing you will miss if you are a fan of the franchise is the original cast. Bay just about replaced them all and it might feel weird to watch a new bunch of humans befriending the autobots. We had a working format before – LaBeouf and Fox were pivotal to the film, protecting the autobots from their adversaries.
Then there were the army dudes, of which Gibson was a prominent figure. They brought in the big guns to help LaBeouf's character. Then, for loads of comical relief, we had LaBeouf's parents, the Witwickys (played by Kevin Dunn and Julie White), something that’s absent here.
At a staggering 165 minutes, and considering the summary of the story, the film is too long. We get that Bay wanted to blow up things, but he could have chopped off a good hour. In the 3D version, you might hope for things to pop out at you throughout the movie, but that rarely happens, making those 3D glasses a bit of an unnecessary accessory.
Then there is the issue of Mark Wahlberg starring in a film like this. In general, Marky Mark is a bad-ass who does “real” films and rarely movies featuring gadgets. So to see him almost helpless in some scenes is heartbreaking. All in all there are lots of blasts, but you will find yourself dusting off the older movies after watching this one.
If you liked Pacific Rim, Real Steel and the other Transformers movies then you will like this.