Sunday, 29 June 2014


The summer blockbuster everyone has been waiting for. Well, at least for me it is. Just by looking at my avatar profile picture, you could tell I am a big fan of the popular toy and cartoon franchise Transformers. It has been 3 years since the giant transforming robots appeared on cinema screens. They have now returned in a fourth film in the franchise with a new group of cast members and redesigned robots. I won’t be bias in this review. The only thing I would be bias is including more movie stills than my other movie review postings.

Autobots (L-R): Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Drift, Crosshairs, and Hound
The title for the new film is Transformers: Age of Extinction. The director from the previous three films, Michael Bay, returns in the hot seat. Ehren Kruger, who previously wrote the second and third film, also returns to write the script. The cast of newcomers consists of superstar Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, Li Bingbing, T.J. Miller, and Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime. Lorenzo DiBonaventura and Ian Bryce return as producers.

Autobots (L-R): Hound, Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Drift, and Crosshairs with their human counterparts.
How will this fourth installment fair up to previous films? Do read on…

Mark Wahlberg takes over the lead role from Shia LaBeouf
Several years after the events of the last film, the good faction known as the Autobots are currently in hiding. Despite saving the planet from annihilation, the Autobots are blamed for all destruction caused in the city of Chicago. A covert branch of the C.I.A. led by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is hunting down all Transformers both the good faction and also the bad faction known as Decepticons, Attinger’s primary target is capturing Autobot leader Optimus Prime who is now in hiding under the roof of inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his teenage daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Cade and Tessa form a partnership with Optimus Prime and a few surviving Autobots to battle Attinger who has form an alliance with a quirky scientist (Stanley Tucci) and a mysterious villain.

Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) discovers a beaten-up Optimus Prime in a design which is a tribute to his cartoon look
Disoriented and messy. As much as it is a science fiction film and logic is thrown out the window, the writer’s attempt at giving it some sort of ‘believability’ failed. The scientific references were not established firmly thus making it difficult to follow. The script was bombarded with too much scientific jargon that even a fan-boy like me was questioning what the hell are they trying to explain. There were too many story motifs which made for difficulty to follow. Characterization was mediocre with the exception of Wahlberg’s lead character. Speaking of characters, there were too many of them and some roles felt unnecessary to the movie. After the negative feedback from the 2nd film (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and mediocre feedback from the 3rd film (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), I find it surprising that the studio and producers are still hiring Ehren Kruger to write this installment. There were too many main villains in this movie. Having too many main villains in a movie has ruined films such as Spider-Man 3 (2007) and The Amazing Spider-man 2 (2014).

Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) and Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor) with the Autobots
The film does not showcase much of the acting despite having quality and established actors in Wahlberg, Tucci, and Grammer. Peltz and Reynor didn’t do much to excite me too. The only positive point when it comes to acting performances is I would rather have Wahlberg’s lead character than Shia LaBeouf’s annoying Sam Witwicky from the previous films. For Transformers fans, it was nice to see legendary voice actor Frank Welker in the role of Galvatron battling Optimus Prime. This echoes those many fights they have encountered and even sweeter when you here the original voices being used. Though I won’t equate acting to the performance of the robots, the main villain Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan, Jetfire from the second film) was really bad-ass and menacing.

Tessa Yeager (Nicola Peltz) screaming for help while...

...while Optimus Prime protects her from Galvatron
The only plus point in the movie is the visual effects. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) has improved tremendously and upped the stakes from film to film. I like the newly redesigned robots and their movements have more ‘fluidity’ compared to previous films. More ‘fluidity’ meaning the action scenes felt more like motion-capture but in reality it is not. There were more scenes created totally from scratch rather than using natural settings as background. However, I sincerely symphatize with all the creative animators and graphic artists at ILM for their efforts are over-shadowed by bad scripting and bad editing. The music had different feel to it which is nice and as with most Transformers films, the sound designs and sound effects are top notch. Again, the horrible storyline over-shadowed these achievements.

Director Michael Bay filming in China
This is the longest film in terms of duration of all Transformers films which runs at 2 hours and 45 minutes including credits. Director Michael Bay is known for making films of long duration and rarely does the pacing feel draggy. For this film, it was draggy. It had a slow start, picked up a little bit in the middle, and mellowed down towards the end. As the film reached its end, I lost my interest as the horrible storyline took a toll on me.

Stanley Tucci and Li Bingbing sharing a scene
A group of rejected robotic alien heroes together with their unlikely human partners must band together to decide whether to fight the authority figures or save Earth from another potential annihilation.

Peltz, Wahlberg, Reynor, and Tucci on the run with an item I would not reveal for it is a spoiler
Very very bad script and draggy almost throughout.

Father and daughter exiting Bumblebee
Stunning visual effects, stunts, and fight scenes in the usual Michael Bay style.

Irish actor Jack Reynor, a relative newcomer to the acting world.
I admit, I was disappointed in this film. Going into this film, or any summer popcorn film for that matter, I would care less about the story and focus on the fun. It is still a family fun film as Michael Bay has cut down a little on his crude adult themed humour. Somehow, the script insulted my intelligence as a movie-goer. Watch it only, and ONLY if you are a die-hard Transformers fan.

Michael Bay at work

5.5 out of 10