After watching this movie, you too, will wish that all the real world’s problems can be fixed by Optimus Prime riding into battle on top of a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex

Featuring

Mark Walhberg as Cade Yeager
Nicola Peltz as Tessa Yeager
Jack Reynor as Shane Dyson
Kelsey Grammer as Agent Harold Attinger
Stanley Tucci as Joshua Joyce
Li Bingbing as Su Yueming
with Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime
and Frank Welker as Galvatron/Megatron

You may groan at the release of yet another Transformers movie, full of explosions, nonsensical (or nonexistent) plots, endless product placements and hateful Sam Witwicky-isms. Well, Transformers: Age of Extinction lives up to its predecessors’ reputations but also deletes the worst part of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies: Sam Witwicky-isms. Is this single omission enough to redeem the franchise?

Well, the answer is, sort of. In Transformers tradition, the first 45 minutes of this movie does itself no favours in establishing the storyline, its characters, or even its setting. Instead, it shows off some confusing stuff about Cade’s financial situation, annoying product placements (“I’ve even been picked up by Red Bull!”), cars trampling cornfields and Tessa’s legs. How the movie thought it would be appropriate to portray an underaged character’s sexual desirability in that way, didn’t sit right with me, to say the least. Hell, the movie even states she’s underaged, repeatedly. I digress and will leave the debate about this little gripe for someone else to pick up.

In Transformers tradition, the first 45 minutes of this movie does itself no favours in establishing the storyline, its characters, or even its setting.

But, without Sam Witwicky, his stuttering insanity, and the obligatory ultra-hot girlfriend, who is generally useless, the movie at least has a slightly more believable human hero in Cade, who starts off as the most unlikely engineer/inventor in movie history. Just look at the size of his biceps. No engineer looks like that! Although, that might explain why none of his inventions actually work. At least he fits the brief of action hero later on.

A transformer, yesterday

A transformer, yesterday.

The story then plods along, from one nonsensical point to another, finally making Optimus Prime himself so angry that he wants to kill the scriptwriter. He actually yells: “I’ll kill him myself!!.” Maybe that was just me thinking how I’d react if I had to act out this ridiculous script.

I jest. In reality, Prime is incensed at watching his Autobot underlings getting assassinated as part of a CIA conspiracy, and that he would squish the man responsible. Until, of course, he meets one of the men responsible, and instantly backs off from his threat inexplicably, because he was needed in the rest of the movie. Here I was hoping Optimus would finally grow a pair, and become a darker version of his paragon-of-goodness self, but alas, it was not to be. Actually, now that I think about it, he does finally make good on his threat, when he actually kills the main human baddie, Sideshow Bob. Also, Stanley Tucci plays an awesome Steve Jobs equivalent in Joshua Joyce.

Now, you say, Transformers movies are meant to be taken with a mountain of salt, since they are purely action movies. Therefore, you don’t need to think about what’s going on and just go with the insane action. Fine argument, but there are relatively logical, movies featuring insane action, like Independence Day, Terminator, or even Alien, that ties in the essential element of a good story, along with awe-inspiring visual effects. Those visual effects add to the effect of a great story, rather than act as a distraction to a lack of quality scripting in the first place.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is a tremendous mess. It makes a mess of Hong Kong, Guangzhou and a farm in the middle of midwestern America.

However, there is some good in the miasma of bad that is Age of Extinction. The visual effects are stunning, the action sequences glorious, especially that scene with Prime hacking his way through Decepticons on top of Grimlock, and the sense of satisfaction you get when the bad guys are offed, immense. Oh, and I suppose the fact that Li Bingbing is in there means that the movie will be shown in China, which along with the various product placements, including for Geely, Microsoft and brands of drinks specific to China, ensuring it will make a sh!tload of money for the studios. See? Achievement unlocked! Another achievement unlocked is the noticeable return of the original voice of Megatron/Galvatron, Frank Welker, alongside Peter Cullen as Optimus. He was much missed when Hugo Weaving was cast as the voice acting talent for Megatron in the first three movies.

So, to sum it up: Transformers: Age of Extinction is a tremendous mess. The storyline, is a mess, because it is actually nonexistent until about one third of the way through the movie. It makes a mess of Hong Kong, Guangzhou and a farm in the middle of midwestern America. But, in that mess, much like the layers covering the floor of a teenager’s bedroom, is a good action movie and advertisement billboard, filled to the brim with bravado and some message about top secret government projects being evil. I haven’t been able to dig into the message much at all, but I’m sure it’s a stab at the NSA phone tapping scandal. I was too distracted by Li Bingbing’s femme noir beauty, and associated horrible acting, as well as reassuring message that drinking of packaged Chinese dairy products after carrying a nuclear bomb through Hong Kong is extremely satisfying.

Check out the trailer

Rating

Look, it’s a Michael Bay action movie. If you expect a quiet contemplation on whether robots have souls and…er…stuff, watch Blade Runner.

Should I watch it?

I may be approaching thirty, but my inner child remains at a respectable age of six. This is why I still like Nerf guns, Lego and Transformers. If you’re like me, then you will watch the sh!t out of this movie.

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