Transformers: Age of Extinction – Review by Frances Winston
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Whalberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles, Li Bingbing, Titus Welliver, T. J. Miller, Melanie Specht
In cinemas July 5th
In Ireland this is possibly the most hyped movie of the year so far featuring as it does Jack Reynor in a breakthrough role. If you don’t know the basic premise of Transformers by now you must have been living under a rock as the “robots in disguise” have been around for decades and this is actually their fourth movie outing.
Previous offerings may not have been War and Peace but they did huge box office and although none of the previous cast have returned this time around the studio have attracted enough big names to ensure audiences will at least be curious to see this.
Set five years after the Battle of Chicago (which was the big set piece of the previous film) a struggling inventor Cade Yeager (Whalberg) buys and old truck for parts only to discover that it is actually an injured Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. Although the government are meant to have been hunting down Decepticons it appears they have been targeting both sides thanks to a paranoid agent Attinger (Grammer). When they discover that Optimus is at Cade’s house they arrive to finish him off dragging Cade, his daughter and friend into the ongoing battle in the process. Saved by Tessa’s boyfriend Shane (Reynor, who isn’t even on screen for the first 40 minutes) Cade hacks into a drone and discovers that a company called KSI is also involved in targeting the Transformers and decides to infiltrate their headquarters. With the head of the KSI Joshua Joyce (Tucci) trying to build his own Transformers to use as weapons he inadvertently uses information from Megatron’s head to create Galvatron who becomes the new leader of the Decepticons. It appears everyone is after The Seed which is the Transformers life force and the group are forced to travel to Hong Kong to attempt to deactivate Galvatron and retrieve the precious bomb that could turn a whole city into Transformers.
If all of that read like Greek to you then this is probably not the movie for you. This has an incredibly complex plot which is not helped by its almost three hour length as you lose track of what’s going on at times. However, these movies are not about subtlety so this was to be expected. Whalberg plays Cade as an everyman and reinforces his action hero credentials. However Tucci and Grammer are the real standouts with the two veteran actors giving fantastic performances in material that would seem weak in a lesser performer’s hands. Reynor never really sets the screen on fire and isn’t helped by some very silly dialogue. That said he’s contracted for another two movies so I’m sure my opinion doesn’t really matter to him.
The action scenes are spectacular as you would expect from a Bay movie and many of the CGI issues of the previous movies have been sorted with there being far more clarity to the robots fight scenes which were previously a bit hit and miss. Also, with less Transformers to deal with it makes it easier to keep track of who’s who for those who aren’t hugely familiar with the premise. However, it has a seriously weak script and some ridiculous dialogue and is lacking a lot of the heart of the first few instalments. With the introduction of an entirely new cast they could have simply rebooted the franchise rather than trying to continue the tale.
This is too long and rather silly in a lot of places but die hard fans will love it anyway. Possibly the weakest installment in the series it will still no doubt make oodles of money. However, they really need to look at where the story is going as this feels quite lazy and far from innovative. Much darker than its predecessors this probably won’t make them any new fans. Definitely not the best blockbuster of the summer this will entertain those who like their dialogue clunky and their set pieces huge but anyone who doesn’t will find it a bit tedious.