The fourth installment to the ‘Transformers’ franchise delivers essentially everything one would expect from a ‘Transformers’ movie. Michael Bay showcases his “refreshed” take on the morphing robots in this outing that looks at overshadowing its predecessors not only in scale and global scope, but also in runtime (seriously).
So the basic setting takes us into the life of a failed robotics engineer Cade Yeager and how he buys a broken-down truck for $150 and, well, anyone who’s seen any of the previous three movies or watched the TV show as a kid will know where this is heading. The truck is none other than the leader of the Autobots – Optimus Prime himself. Alas, the government, via Kelsey Grammer’s infamous Harold Attinger, has declared an unofficial war on the alien species; and even the Earth-saving Autobots are being searched and executed.
Meanwhile, tech genius Joshua Joyce (a Steve Jobs inspired character) is responsible for creating man-made and controlled Transformers via his company KSI using the precious stone aptly named ‘Transformium’. The aim is to use the manufactured robots as military weapons in all future wars. Joyce utilises the ‘fallen Decepticons’, including ‘Megatron’, and several captured Autobots to reverse engineer his new-world-order machines, in a bid to end “the age of the Transformers”, and in keeping with the notion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, Attinger agrees to an uneasy alliance with ‘Lockdown’, a Transformer who swears adherence to neither the Autobots nor the Decepticons.
The introduction of ‘Lockdown’ (arguably the best bad-ass Transformer yet) in the fight between the Autobots and the Decepticons is – simply put – poetic justice for both clans. To combat this new threat and protect his endangered brethren, Prime calls upon his own personal band of brothers: Bumblebee, Hound, Drift, Crosshairs and Brains. What follows is synchronized pandemonium, if such a thing exists.
The 165 minute feature is a visual treat and best enjoyed in 3D along with Dolby Atmos sound, to really get sucked into Bay’s world of metamorphosing swanky cars. The sheer magnificence of Bay’s ability to tell and re-tell the same story of the interlocking lives of humans and bots is truly commendable.
Speaking of visual spectacle, the interior of Lockdown’s ship is an awesomely strange and utterly fascinating house of alien horrors. The gravity generators create some of the most attention-grabbing spectacle as planes, trains, and oil tankers are sucked into the atmosphere only to come crashing back down to Earth. His first appearance is marked by a ruthlessly brutal encounter with an Autobot on the run and marks the film’s only genuinely emotion-provoking moment.
The VFX supervisor Scott Ferrar deserves a special mention, for executing the sequences as thought out by Bay and doing justice to Ehren Kruger’s writing. Some of the sequences are truly outlandish, be it the introduction on Dinobots in the very end – where instead of characters that turn into Humanoid Robots or Cars, these characters are Humanoids that turn into Dinosaurs – or the very first encounter between the ‘New Age’ Transformer Decepticons and the Autobots; or even the smaller less extravagant sequences of the explanation of the use of ‘Transformium’.
In terms of performances, Wahlberg brings every ounce of his often endearingly goofy charm, as well as a relatable action appeal. He puts action in action with some of the stunts he’s attempted in the film, including trying his hand at the art of ‘Parkour’ in one of the few human vs human sequences in a bot driven film. But, the true stand-out performer for me is none other than Stanley Tucci, who plays a Steve Jobs inspired tech guru. His mere presence on the screen is poetry in motion, and some of his dialogues will leave you spellbound. Tucci outshines his fellow actors and even gives the bots a run for their money in the film.
Unfortunately, even after being a die-hard Transformers fan, I have to say that the runtime of this installment is by far the weakest link of the film and potentially fatal to its outcome. The repetitive occurrences of the combat sequences ultimately dilute its significance, and eventually, the viewer will be left craving to an end to the chaos.
To end, Transformers: Age of Extinction is for the fans of the franchise. Those who don’t enjoy Michael Bay’s brand of mind numbing action will be best served to remain at home. Lovers of all things explosions, visual effects marvels, and Autobots will be granted a wealth of all of the above, plus a few intriguing and unexpected twists.
Autobots roll out!
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer, Li Bingbing, Sophia Myles, Titus Welliver, T. J. Miller.