SupermanEchols Offers 2 Different Reviews for TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
As polarizing as director Michael Bay is to fans of the Transformers franchise, there’s really no way to write up one singular review that will encompass the feelings of both the “Bayhem” lovers and those that started a picket line the first day they saw flames on Optimus Prime. So, in an effort to please both sides of fandom, I’ve addressed the films from 2 slightly different perspectives.
Love 'em or Hate 'em, Michael Bay continues to bombard audiences with his over-the-top Transformers films. Check out a couple different ways of looking at his latest entry in the series, Age of Extinction.
For FANS of the series:
If you’ve dug all 3 Bay-directed Transformer films up until now, just wait until you get in your seat come this Friday, because he is serving up a SUPER helping of ALL THINGS BAYHEM! There are explosions galore, scenes inundated with military presence for absolutely no reason, Americana front and center, close ups of glistening sweat on characters hunched down hiding from terrifying robots, along with action and destruction on a global scale spanning all the way from Texas to Hong Kong! Long gone is the whiny presence of Shia LaBeouf and his twitch mannerisms, replaced by a more grounded and determined, yet still heroic, Mark Wahlberg. I was never a huge fan of Shia’s character in the series, so I gratefully accepted the Autobots hanging out with a different gang of homo-sapiens this go-round. Wahlberg’s role is that of an inventor and father, so his protective nature as a dad just comes off as a more believable aspect of the story as opposed to Shia running around screaming while saving his Victoria Secret girlfriends. Let’s be honest with each other, it’s far more likely that Mark Wahlberg would be a protective father (Inventor? Not so much) than Shia LaBeouf could ever attract Megan Fox or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, other than helping them with their homework or carrying groceries to their car. I mean seriously, we’re already having to stretch to believe in giant fighting robots…don’t make us try too hard. Continuing on…The action is easily some of the best in the series, primarily because it’s a bit easier to tell apart the robotic combatants mid-battle. The first couple films really struggled with everyone being a dark grey hue and just meshing together as one big ball of steel when engaging each other, but a bit slower pace of blows and a couple splashes of paint here and there to distinguish Autobots from Decepticons goes a long way. Oh yes, and there are DINOBOTS! While not featured in the film nearly as much as the trailers would have you believe, their presence is a great shot in the arm in the final act, and is a cool nod to fans of the original cartoon series.
For the Bay-detractors:
If you’ve hated or mildly disliked the Transformers films up until this point, this film will not only do nothing to change your mind, it will likely solidify your opinion of Michael Bay as a complete and total hack with reliance on a teleprompter to speak two coherent sentences. Yes, the main cast of humans has changed, and yes Stanley Tucci and Kelsey Grammer are always a welcomed presence, however the scripting is still poorly crafted for any believable dialogue, and most jokes fall flat on the floor with no chance of resuscitation. The main storyline is a bit more streamlined than in previous entries in the series, but it still has gaping plot holes along the way and will leave you scratching your head multiple times why certain characters don’t just use abilities they apparently have had throughout the entire film, except for plot convenience to prolong the car chases or fight scenes. AND PROLONG IT THEY DO. Good grief this film is long. I’m talking Dances With Wolves-like stretches here, but with less Costner and scalping. If what you don’t want is to spend most of your afternoon in the dark pondering how grass or water suddenly explodes with no reason while a sunset slowly fades in the distance, then this one is NOT FOR YOU. This thing easily could have been cut down by 30 minutes and nothing would have changed. There’s just so much back and forth dialogue from characters that the audience is 100% NOT INVESTED IN, that it drags what could have been mildly enjoyable into a overdrawn effort at “more is better”.
So where do I fall? I’ve actually enjoyed Bay’s take on these characters so far. I’m definitely a child of the 80’s, and grew up with Transformers, G.I. Joe, TMNT, ThunderCats, but I’m enough of a realist to also know that the majority of them exist just to push toy sales. They’re not high art, and it’s funny to hear adults argue the merits of them like they should be treated as Oscar contenders. This does however feel like too much is being thrown at the screen to just inundate the viewer with bombastic explosions and countless robots until you finally just give in from overconsumption. A more focused tale (harkening back to the original film) would be a great place to take the series should it (and won’t it obviously?) continue. It seems like with every sequel we’re getting bigger and badder, but that’s not necessarily a plus. With the focus being widened to include countless new Decepticons and Autobots, as well as introducing Wahlberg and his family’s narrative, it seems that perhaps this was a bit more than Bay could chew, which is likely why it clocks in at such a long runtime.
Overall, I still found it enjoyable and cannot help but marvel at the extremely impressive CGI used to bring these characters to life. While I wished the plot would have been trimmed down and the story more linearly focused, I still came away with a goofy grin on my face because…well, it’s Transformers, and sometimes it’s fun to watch them just blow stuff up. The definition of a big, dumb popcorn flick. You already knew before reading this likely where you’d fall in its target audience. You either are, or you aren’t, and this one isn’t going to change that.
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