At this stage, the Transformers franchise has found its voice – and it sounds more like explosions. This is not an Oscar contender, nor is it seeking any type of critical acclaim, unless it comes from the special effects crew. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is the new-age summer blockbuster meant for moviegoers to turn off their critical thinking and go watch things blow up. Director Michael Bay has made it clear that he’s perfectly fine with that type of categorization. Too bad it’s not as acceptable for the rest of us.
A new story arc is birthed in the latest Transformers film with a fresh set of faces. Mark Wahlberg stars as Cade, a down on his luck inventor with a dying business and a daughter on her way to college. As he salvages work around town he comes upon a beat up truck, which just happens to be the leader of the Autobots – the legendary Optimus Prime. Unbeknownst to them, the government has installed a plan to eliminate every alien on Earth, that means the good guys too. But to do this they’ve enlisted the help of one of Earth’s oldest threats. With the help of the last remaining Autobots and his new friends, Optimus seeks to end an age-old war once and for all.
After removing the core cast from the last installment, a group of new comers are mashed into the human foundation of the film. Each contains an almost textbook backstory or generic attitude expected from an 80’s action movie. The rebellious daughter, the struggling dad trying to do right, the goofy best friend, it’s all there. It works for the film, which basically just needs the a few pieces of meat to serve as conduits for Optimus Prime and company to punch in some faces.
The group, fronted by Cade, end up battling robots, traveling halfway across the world and running through explosions, explosions and more explosions. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but something we’ll see again since a storyline for the obvious sequel begins to rear its head halfway through the film by setting up mysterious and poorly developed villains that just seem to disappear.
For a movie that runs nearly to the three-hour mark, it moves incredibly fast. The pace mostly lives off the virtually continuous action sequences that are rarely interrupted by a genuine human presence. This is a movie about giant-robots, this isn’t the worst thing that can happen in an action movie, but it almost makes the non-metallic part of the cast unneeded and pointless in some cases. After four movies, Bay could probably get away with eliminating the human element all together.
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” has set the new-age standard for the summer movie. With 3-D and the ever-growing developments in digital technology, this is just the start. Despite all the criticism the franchise has earned in the last two films, nothing has been learned. “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is just an expansion of the same light show that’s been chugging along since 2007.
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