Saturday, June 28, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) Review:

When Transformers (2007) came out, no one knew what to expect. No one had ever seen such clever visuals, big action, effective music and the cast, although not oscar material, entertained at the level it should have. It was something special and a movie director Michael Bay and writer Ehren Kruger did the right way. Two sequels later, this Hollywood moneymaker duo learned things along the way about what elements they needed to incorporate to make its diminishing returns feel not so out of place. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) recovered back a little bit of what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) messed up and by the end, one would've hoped it would be a while for the next installment. Three years later wasn't long enough. This sequel, like the rest are competently made with its production but its writing no longer works or convinces.

Finally, the main character fights back,....but I had
had to wait four movies for it?
Viewers will now be introduced to Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) a widower / robot inventor who's struggling to make a living and support his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) through school. After discovering an abandoned truck, Cade realizes that he's in the possession of transformer, Optimus Prime. What Cade doesn't realize is that the government is hunting the autobots, which are allied with Lockdown - whom can't be really said to be a Decepticon. He's more of a middleman. And this would be fine if that's all that it was. Instead, Ehren Kruger writes an extremely thin plot and covers it with too many human characters and several subplots. One of these subplots is about how the ancient relatives of the transformers were the reason for the dinosaurs being burnt to a crisp. Really? Could that be thrown in any more lazily? It's just another reason to say why transformers were on earth.

The human characters are a totally different ball of wax. Credit is given for Wahlberg being a much stronger character than Shia LaBeouf's and fighting back instead of screaming like a sissy. But Cade Yeager as a robot inventor, in the middle of urban Texas doesn't feel practical. Aren't there other lucrative occupations? Other cast members are much of the same from the last films. One of them being that Cade's daughter is the damsel in distress who has a boyfriend that's always after her. Of course, there are always those few human characters that are annoying to listen to onscreen and are put in for comic relief. There are even areas of development for these individuals, which are just for comedy. Come on, its no longer funny. All it is, is the Kruger/Bay method of writing.

For the transformers, it's strange how over time Optimus Prime maintains his autobot group when there are new ones every sequel. It's not to say they aren't cool but their background is never told. Where do they come from? The best of the bunch though was Hound played by John Goodman. He was a nice highlight. The dinobots were another interesting aspect to the film because of their magnitude. However, like many other transformers they received little development other than being ancient transformers and somehow being the "creators" of Prime.

As a pseudo-sequel to its predecessors, it does keep its connections but its continuity lacks depth and feels loose. The battle at Chicago is mentioned many times, but of what happened to the main bunch of other main cast members is a mystery. Why a few words couldn't be said about them, I won't get. Another weird thing about this movie is that out of all the films released, this one felt like the longest. This is mostly due to the action sequences. Like any Michael Bay film, the action will be big, but this one in particular felt like he wanted to make every action sequence feel like the finale to the film. Oddly enough when the finale came, it felt less climactic than expected because every action scene before it was just as big and bombastic. I was desensitized.

The music composed by Steve Jablonsky is nothing short of bad but no longer impresses. He continues to maintain the booming action cues and noble Prime theme but his tracks no longer felt memorable. It's sad because Transformers no doubt is a strong franchise that should be treated in the right way. And although Michael Bay is key to what made it great, his ability to keep it afloat isn't working by cramming several 20 minute long action sequences and over stuffing the plot with multiple pointless characters. It'll definitely keep a young person's attention but I don't guarantee the required substance. Worse, is that you know another will be on its way, made in the exact same manner.

It's just as big and heavy duty as the past films with its music and action sequences but its writing has become lazy. The voice and physical cast try, but by now, the novelty has worn off. It's just being shoveled out knowing people will go just because.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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