Transformers: Age of Extinction (3D)

2014-06-27 14:37
What it's about:

Five years after the Battle of Chicago, an amateur inventor and his teenage daughter make a startling discovery that soon makes them the targets of rogue CIA agents, alien bounty hunters and an all-new breed of man-made Transformers - with the future of both the Autobots and the earth itself hanging in the balance.

What we thought:

After three awful Transformers movies, I went in to Age of Extinction fully expecting the worst but, at about half an hour in, I was starting to wonder if perhaps I've always been too hard on Michael Bay and his mega-budget updates of this beloved 80s toy/ cartoon franchise. Or, at the very least, I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe Bay had finally learned something from his past mistakes and would finally deliver a moderately OK Transformers movie. After all, in the interim, he had made the perfectly captivating slice of trash-cinema, Pain and Gain, so maybe he had finally learned the basics of storytelling again, while at the same time working all the nastiness out of his system once and for all.

Not so much, as it turns out. Despite the film's passable opening act and in spite of having a few halfway decent elements to work with (a much improved leading man, more plot, a fine supporting cast, better robot designs, less blatant misogyny and frickin' dinosaur transformers!), the film's remaining two-and-a-quarter hours (!) did nothing but confirm Bay's title as the worst big-draw director working in Hollywood today.

Transformers: Age of Extinction isn't a terrible piece of crap because it has nothing at all going for it (see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for that). It's a terrible piece or crap because it does. Bay has at his disposal a huge budget, state-of-the-art special effects and high production values, as well as a boatload of great actors (both in person and as voice-actors) and a basic plot that at last tries to make good use of the Transformers mythology - but all these individual elements manage to do in the end, is to remind us constantly of just how much better the resulting film should be.

Michael Bay is, very simply, a truly terrible storyteller and an inept, if undeniably flashy, director. That his films are often sexist, racist and mean-spirited is of secondary importance to the fact that he seems almost entirely unable to put together a film of any real coherence, let alone one of any intelligence or basic emotional engagement. Yes, Pain and Gain, The Rock and the first Bad Boys are semi-exceptions to this but even then, they have tended to work in spite of Michael Bay, not because of him.

More so than the first three Transformers films, Age of Extinction should have been really easy to get right. Not only is it automatically improved by having the increasingly likeable Mark Wahlberg taking over from the increasingly slappable Shia LaBeouf but, at its heart, the Transformers franchise has always really been a simple adventure story for young boys about cool vehicles turning into cooler giant-robots – some of which are obvious goodies and some of which are obvious baddies. It's about gee-whiz excitement, simple morality and huge robots hitting each other.

It ain't rocket science so why is Bay so utterly unable to make these films anything but the bloated, over-long, incoherent, stupid messes that they are? Once again, we have characters with little discernible personality and seriously wonky motivations, running around crumbling cities as huge robots punch each other for hours on end. It's loud, it's stupid and it's mind-pulverisingly boring.

One last thing: I know, I know, I know, I'm a stuffy film critic who only likes inaccessible art movies, preferably in any language other than English. Let me be clear about this – and I'm getting really tired of reiterating this point: I love good, mainstream Hollywood movies. I loved the Fault in Our Stars, Edge of Tomorrow and X-Men: Days of Future's Past, to name just a few recent huge Hollywood releases. Transformers: Age of Extinction isn't a bad movie because it's a huge Hollywood blockbuster. It's a bad movie because it's a bad movie. And when there are so many good Hollywood movies being made, why on earth would you waste your hard-earned money on this?

Bloated, incoherent and a good hour too long, Age of Extinction proves once again that as long as Michael Bay is at the helm, fans are never going to get the Transformers film they deserve.

Steve 2014/06/27 15:39
I can't actually disagree with you on this one.
Terence 2014/06/30 09:45
I don't know what movie you were watching, but like steve i also disagree with you. what do you mean no story line, were you really sleeping while the movoie was playing. the movie is about the true origin of the transformers. That will be better explained in the next 2 movies. So do us a favour and stick to romance movie reviews, beacuse you truly suck at action reviews.not a waste of money at all.
Vusi 2014/06/30 11:18
Iits hard to diagree with you the acting was bad but the action intresting the story line lacked plot very disapointing indeed my favourite series is being turned into a mockery
Hennie 2014/06/30 13:33
I may be wrong here, but seems that the biasedness this critic has for Michael Bay filters through just a tad too much in this review. Now, maybe the Transformers series is suffering from Michael Bay at the helm, but that does not mean that the review should focus squarely on the faults of the Director. Has the critic thought that maybe the story line is non-existent because it was penned by Ehren Kruger, who almost wrecked the Scream series with Scream 3 (and may I add that not even Wes Craven was able to save that one). Since his appointment on Transformers 2, the series has taken a turn for the worse. I truly enjoyed the first Transformers movie, the action was acceptable and the story line flowed. However, I barely survived Transformers 2 and did not bother with 3. AoE was acceptable to my standards. The action was less in your face and my ears approved of the noise level. Another reasons might be that study bosses want Michael Bay to continue doing what he has done up to now. Box Office figures do not lie and Transformers has grossed over $2.5 billion worldwide. Why mess with something that clearly is working for the general movie public? Actually, all I am trying to say is, next time, perhaps spend a little less time moaning about the Director and provide a truly unbaissed review of a film that has more faults than the Director.
Caroline Scott 2014/06/30 14:57
Transformers – Age of Extinction. This action packed film was boring. While the cinematography was outrageously good and the action sequences were inventive, I felt that there wasn’t much going on in the line of story. I am a fan of the Transformers franchise, I even like Michael Bay as an action film director, but I found that the story was flat and as a result so was the acting. The movie was visually very rich with complex sets and stunning CGI. The visual spectacle is enough to blow most people away, but when it comes to a good story, actually having a good story is essential. It felt as though several poorly developed stories were painfully stitched together to form a long and tiresome mess. There was the father and daughter story, the love story, the loss of faith in humanity story, the morality versus money story, the creator and creation story, the list goes on and on and on. If they had chosen to focus on one line and leave back stories as back stories with a complete and well-articulated main plot line then this film could have been brilliant. It felt as though they tried to put every thought they had for several separate films into one film (which made it so long that I watch brilliant action sequences with no enthusiasm or wonder at all). I also felt that the vast cast took away from everything as well. Less is more Micheal, less is more. The cast has several unnecessary characters, from a Texan scruff in a mini-cooper to an anthropologist/archaeologist to an oriental business, ninja wonder-woman. The film is packed with crazy car chases and dozens of transforming sequences. There were also an excessive amount of cheesy dialogue that had my gag reflex on standby and left my sense of humour completely unstimulated. It was all in excess. Too many characters, too many stories, too many action sequences. Too little substance. Then there is Michael Bay’s obsession with girls with super long legs, super full mouths and no talent (Megan Fox excluded). I would love for him to cast someone less pretty that can really bring value to the characters created. Mark Walberg did his best, but even he has delivered more powerful performances in the past. I am sure that the film will still make a profit, because of the fan base the franchise currently enjoys. However, I will be far less enthusiastic about the next film. Perhaps I will action it only once it has made it to DVD.
Brian 2014/06/30 15:07
Well, Thank You "Movie Critic" for making this bad movie make over 100million dollars in 3days. I don't think they care what you say.
I need a shit 2014/06/30 15:36
I need a fat shit.
Ilan Preskovsky 2014/06/30 19:36
Actually, Hennie's right: I should have mentioned the terrible script by Ehren Kruger. Point taken. However, that doesn't change the fact that Transformers 4 is a Michael Bay movie through and through and every last inch of the film has grubby, trademark style all over it. Yes, the writing is awful but that's only the starting point in everything that's wrong, not necessarily the main problem. Frankly, I don't know if a decent script could have saved something this shoddily directed.
Hennie 2014/07/01 10:55
I guess if you mix together the cheesiest script writer in Hollywood with one of the most over-the-top directors you get Transformers 2, 3 and 4. Still enjoyed it though (perhaps my guilty pleasure for the month). Maybe watching it in Imax added to the enjoyment.
Sitch Nkululeko N 2014/07/02 12:13
I love transformers...But my main problem is...Why must the Optimus always get Bliksemed...No man i will understand if they bliksem him once and he comes back for revenge and he moers die s&*%# out of them...But nah he always get bliksemed and thanks to bumbelbee he almost did not make it in AOE. And trust me their wont be a Spark stashed somewhere to revive him.
Sitch Nkululeko N 2014/07/03 09:16
and im totally gay for Bumblebee! if that machine was a man, gosh i would eat him up! i need a fat shit
T.Paterson 2014/07/03 12:19
I actually enjoyed this movie. It was long but it was worth the watch!
Antonio Quicksilver 2014/07/04 11:24
Hmmm... I have found that people (and by people I mean movie critics...) have deep dislike for Michael Bays style of direction. Now the saying goes "to each his own" & rightly so. But its all fun & games till someone starts using their own (opinion) to influence that of others. I am a movie fan myself (hence why I read this review) & what I have seen of Michal Bays work (both directed & produced) has been both entertaining & memorable. The characters stand out, the camera work is dynamic, the action sequences breathtaking & the motion always clicks. I love the transformers series & it works for me because Michael Bay is behind it. I'll even go check a movie out BECAUSE I see Mr Bay is directing. By saying Michael Bay sucks as a storyteller, you are making me wonder what you deem as story telling? I can tell you the storyline of any Michael Bay movie I watched because he chooses good stories to visualize. Obviously you skipped the part where the script is written by someone else & the part where Michael just creates his vision of how to bring the story to life, but as its his vision we see I guess the buck stops with him. But film is subjective, so you cant please everyone. But, as stated by Hennie, your bias towards Michael Bay shows (its hanging out your back pocket. lol!) Integrity wise, maybe stay away from reviewing subjectively going forward? We are supposed to draw our own conclusions at the end of the day & not draw on yours.
nichol 2014/07/10 13:55
i enjoyed it, little too long atleast the graphics/effects made up for it
JadedKnight 2014/07/10 15:55
This critic is a twit, this movie rocks!
BadeKhu 2014/07/10 16:19
Whatever nyugga! I'm still gonna watch the movie and buy the DVD when it comes out.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.