After basically screwing over Chicagoans everywhere in the previous installment, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), the Autobots are on the run. The C.I.A. (Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver) are now in charge of hunting down Decepticons, except they're hunting Autobots as well. Why? To bring to a company who harvests their bodies and creates a new technology with them with their prime models, fighting units called Galvatron (voiced by Frank Welker, given Hugo Weaving is kind of on the outs with the movie's director) and Stinger. Their “prime” target, aka Optimus Prime (once again voiced by Peter Cullen), alludes them, until a struggling inventor (Mark Wahlberg) finds the Autobot leader and is thrust into these events (much like this reporter going into yet another Transformers sequel).
I'll say this for the movie. It didn't royally piss me off like the previous film did. It still doesn't make for a great movie, but that's been the only consistency in these sequels. One isn't going to expect a cinematic masterpiece. This is Michael Bay doing what he does best, blissfully engaging in every tactic he's always highly criticized for. It's what makes him a TON of money for studios. The only way to survive a Bay film is to turn the mind off, because logic bailed out of this series A LONG TIME AGO.
Though, I'll say this for once: Michael Bay finally made a movie that made me yawn and look at my watch. The almost bordering on three hours spectacle of destruction feels like two movies smashed together in a marathon that Bay didn't tell advertisers about. It really feels like there wasn't a single scene cut from this movie, and it just drags, particularly after the first climax and the second battle in Chicago (WRITER'S NOTE: To those in the forums of this site. HA! Whatever counterpart of mine is in that universe, he's survived TWO attacks).
Honestly, at these two junctures, I really began to consider that this might be two movies jammed into one. It had what could have been an ending and a beginning of a new film in the middle. Then again, I suppose we should be thankful Bay didn't pull a Peter Jackson on us and split this into another movie (because MONEY!!).
Ironically, money is the motivation of our human antagonists in the movie. Grammer and Welliver just chew the scenery of evil, and, honestly, I'm glad we're finally getting some humans who are hating on Autobots (and aren't Decepticon allies) and also trying to spin this entire war that's been had in the previous three films to their advantage. They're obviously having a fun time with their roles, and I want to have the time they had, but I just ain't having it. That's all in due part to the classic Bayisms of characters introduced who serve no point other than comedic value (White House Chief of Staff played by the Reno 911 guy, Marky's token annoying comedic sidekick, that... that PONY LOVER genius who Stanley Tucci lords over, a British blonde girl who reminded me of British blonde girl from the first Transformers movie). In fact we're given a HEAP of human characters. All one dimensional.
Therein lies the problem. With so many human characters, it hinders the Transformers themselves... AGAIN. I don't even know any character details of two of the new Transformers, who are really nicely designed (honestly they're all pretty well-designed this time around), but, like the humans, are caricatures and nothing more. Of the new Autobots, only Hound (voiced by John Goodman), gets maybe some texture, but it ain't much.
Which leads me to my big problem with the movie: the Dinobots. A month ago, when Godzilla was released, I wasn't ticked at all at the way they treated the title monster. I am a bit ticked that we were promised Dinobots, and we only got them shoehorned into the climax of the film. That's it. No introduction other than that they were Lockdown's most prized trophies. Not a single line of dialogue out of any of them. So yeah, pretty much the hate on Bay has for them. It shows here in the film, that Bay just doesn't care for them and treats them as devices to set up money shots (I am not kidding - what the hell did Snarl or the spinosaurus do? Absolutely nothing but walk around and stand there to pose). The only Dinobot who did anything was freaking Swoop. Yeah, Swoop was the star, not freaking Grimlock. All the later did was get tamed by Optimus. That's it. Not even a word of dialogue from him. What the hell Bay?! You really get the impression that the Dinobots were forced into this movie, and Bay did his best to do as little with them as possible.
Speaking of side-notes, that's basically Galvatron in this movie. His entire purpose is to show that Megatron is still kicking, despite having his head ripped from his body (Oh wait nevermind, previous movie continuity must be ignored. Sorry, this reviewer almost forgot that rule of Transformer movies), and to serve as sequel bait. Still, even with my heavy criticism, I had a stupid grin on my face hearing Frank Welker (as Megatron, screw what the movie says. He's still freaking Megatron).
However, this showcases the glaring flaw the previous movie had. When you kill off all your franchise villains, it kind of puts a damper on making another sequel. This is the glaring flaw of wasting Shockwave (and I had to REMINDED OF IT IN THIS FILM ARGH!!!!), Starscream, or Soundwave. But hey, all can be forgiven if the deus ex machina of ignorance continues on; maybe these Decepticons will return (HA! Nah, they won't). As for the film's actual chief heavy, Lockdown: he isn't bad, but he's just all, “MY BOUNTY!”
Transformers: Age of Extinction is nothing more than what was expected. It's Michael Bay doing what he does best/worse: big explosions and fights with plot being shoved in our throats by caricatures that infest this franchise. If this movie was aiming for a new start, it failed just as it's predecessors have. The film is guilty of the same crimes as its antagonists. All it wants is your money, and it'll throw all this fancy new tech your way trying to sway you into giving it to them. I've tried look past the flaws, tried turning my brain fully off, but I can't any longer. All this reviewer can keep thinking now is this: thank freaking goodness for Godzilla this year and the fact that Pacific Rim has now been fully franchised. It's just so exhausting seeing this franchise, where currently one side is being lead by tyrant who justifies his rule by heredity, doomed his entire race to extinction, destroyed his planet, allowed thousands of humans to perish on the other planet he currently inhabits, takes no prisoners, and clearly has a mutilation fetish.
The other side is led by Megatron.
2 out of 5