Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
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Overall Rating 56%
Overall Rating
Ranked #541
...out of 16,927 movies
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Connections: Transformers

Autobots must escape sight from a bounty hunter who has taken control of the human serendipity. Unexpectedly, Optimus Prime and his remaining gang turn to a mechanic, his daughter, and her back street racing boyfriend for help. --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: July 11, 2014
After Dark of the Moon wrapped up the Transformers story so nicely, it was obvious that they had closed the Transformers series and was merely firing it back up to squeeze out a few million more dollars. This became even more obvious when the series' main character, Sam Witwicky and his family/girl, was replaced by Mark Wahlberg. I had no hope for this one going in. Maybe I should have had more faith.

It's been five years since Autobot and Decepticon destroyed Chicago in a vicious battle, and the innocent lives lost have led to a lot of disenchantment with the robot aliens. Led by CIA Agent Harold Attinger, a military team called Cemetery Wind has begun systematically hunting down the remaining transformers, although they're being aided by a vicious transformer named Lockdown who has his sights set on Optimus Prime. None of this matters to the Yeager family, of course. After Mrs. Yeager died, teenaged Tessa has been forced to babysit her absent-minded father. An inventor, Cade spends every waking moment pillaging junk and using the scrap to build new inventions that never work hoping to come across his big break. As failure mounts upon failure and bills mount upon bills, tensions mount between father and daughter. Naturally, Tessa has had enough of having to be the adult, and her father's no-dating policy is the icing on the cake. That's all about to be the least of their problems however, as the latest piece of junk Cade has brought home is a beaten-down big rig riddled with bullet holes. We all know where this is going, and pretty soon the Yaeger household is surrounded by Cemetery Wind with Optimus Prime fighting for his life. Like it or not, the Yaegers have found themselves in the middle of the remaining Autobots' fight for their survival.

Like I said before, they had wrapped up the series quite nicely with the third entry, so in a lot of ways, they were starting from square one. We've got a new cast, new villains (and I don't just mean nameless Transformers), and a whole new storyline to kick out another movie or two. Obviously, I'm not going to delve into it, but there were two or three doors that revealed, just waiting to be opened for the inevitable sequels. That was this movie's biggest goal: to pave the way to give the franchise somewhere new to go. It's a new beginning more than a sequel. Fortunately, the action scenes are good enough to keep the entertainment up and ensure this is more than just a transitional movie, but they're aren't quite good enough to keep you from squirming throughout the three hour running time. It's not exactly a test of endurance, but by film's end, you feel those three hours.

You would think that completely resetting the main cast would be detrimental to the film's health, but in truth, things moved along just fine. What truly kept things afloat was that they didn't go out and find a Shia LeBeouf look-alike to play another fast-talking smart alec with a bombshell girlfriend. They let the Yagers be their own characters. The age difference alone sets a completely different slate going in. Mark Whalberg has proven himself more than capable in both action and comedy; naturally he was a great addition to this franchise, and handled both sides perfectly. He didn't turn from the absent-minded, borderline-neglectful father into Rambo overnight. Instead, he still felt like an everyman that was doing what he had to do to protect his daughter. Likewise, Nicola Peltz and Jack Raynor, by no means stellar actors, were at least able to shape their own characters out without redoing tropes from the first three movies. As far as villains go, Kelsey Grammar and Titus Welliver both excelled as slimy, easy-to-hate assholes. Well done there.

Besides the obligatory return of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, we're given three new Autobots. First of all, Crosshairs is an English-accented gun-slinger whose Corvette's body somehow becomes a fully pliable trench coat. Then there's the triple-changer Drift, a Samurai who can transform into either a generic helicopter or a Bugatti Vitesse, by far the most expensive car in the series. An interesting choice for a humble samurai, but I digress. Finally, there's Hound. A huge military defense vehicle who becomes a bearded, cigar-chomping robot with a big gut and a bigger arsenal. Oh, and he's voiced by John fucking Goodman! OK sure, they're fun characters, but you can't help but notice that they're all blatant one-dimensional archetypes with equally boring names. Still, at least they're given some decent screen time, which is more than I can say for the warriors in movies past, but they just weren't that interesting. On the other hand, the mercenary hunting them sure wasn't slouching. Lockdown is more than a credible replacement for Megatron. Not only does he pull off the classy-evil thing by turning into a Lamborghini, but his entire face turns into a sniper rifle. Nice.

You know, while Bay certainly gets his fair share of criticism on his overuse of explosions, there's another aspect of his movies that he's equally out of hand with. His comedic relief characters are way too high in the mix. It was by far the worst part of the second movie, and even though he was able to curb it in part three, it's back with a vengeance. First we got Cade's friend Lucas doing that stammering, state-the-obvious thing way too hard, then there's Hound's overblown trigger-happiness, and later in the film when Stanley Tucci's character ends up in the middle of the fray, he overacts as hard as ever. He's trying way too hard, and he really doesn't have to. Cade and Shane have a natural animosity towards each other that's actually pretty funny; you don't need to have these people bouncing off the walls to get a laugh. Making matters even worse, when all these guys weren't yucking it up, the film continues the dark horrors-of-war tone that I loved so much from the last movie. It's a huge part of why I liked this one, but it clashes horribly with the childish slapstick.

Miracle of miracles, I liked it. Sure, it's got its problems, and it's three hour run-time is a bit much, but it's still a worthy entry into the series. Most importantly, it opens the doors for future sequels, and nobody is more surprised than I am to hear me say I'm cautiously looking forward to them. 6.5/10.
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