Why Transformers: Age of Extinction is Kinda Awesome

Meh.

I guess, in the build up to the film, I should have been smart enough not to get my hopes up. I mean, sure, Transformers 1 was and still is a great popcorn flick, but since then the series has been more of the same, just with ridiculous premises and lazier writing. Still, Mark Wahlberg's addition as the new leading man piqued my interest – he's one of my favourite actors – and the highly demanded introduction of the Dinobots was something I felt was definitely worth getting hyped about. Maybe, I thought, Michael Bay had turned over a new leaf. Maybe, just maybe, this would mark a rise in quality and prove a saviour for the franchise.

Or maybe not.

Wahlberg put in as good a performance as could be expected for the character

I'm finding it difficult to write this review, largely because there's very little to really discuss. It was another Transformers film; cheap and awkward – but sometimes funny – dialogue, lazy writing, a dubious plot, archetypal characters and cliché dramatisation, with it's only real appeal coming from top notch CGI, slow-motion action shots, robot vs robot fights and the ever present, all consuming Bay-splosions. Basically, what I'm saying is: if you like (or preferably love) the Transformers series (all of them, not just the first one) then you'll probably thoroughly enjoy this film. If, on the other hand, you don't, then chances are the best you can hope for is a film that will pass the time well enough.

As I said, there's very little to discuss of note, but I will attempt to deconstruct the film and take what I can of worth. I want to say the acting was good, but in all honesty, the characters were so one-dimensional and archetypal that it's difficult to give any real glowing praise; certainly, no performances to write home about. I find that a real shame, given some of the quality on offer here: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and voice work from Peter Cullen, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe and John DiMaggio – how do you not exploit that lineup to it's absolute best?

 

Lockdown is a new villain for the film, and like the other Transformers, looks badass

The plot had more holes than a bowl of Cheerios; more, what plot there was was forced in, ham-fisted, lazy cut and paste jobs. As is to be expected from Bay, the plot is essentially there to provide a throwaway reason for moving from explosion to explosion, with little consideration for consistency, continuity or coherence. You're just expected to switch off for the duration and accept everything at surface level with no questions asked – which, if you are capable of doing, does mean everything is much more pleasant.

In one of the few marks of quality for the film, the visuals were perhaps the best we've seen in the franchise so far: I may knock Bay as a film-maker in most areas, but credit where credit's due, he knows how action, he knows explosions, he knows slow motion and he knows CGI. All the Transformers look fantastic, and robot on robot fighting is certainly enjoyable to watch.

 

The Dinobots were criminally underused in the film

One of the most disappointing revelations whilst watching this film was that the Dinobots – potentially saviours of the franchise – are practically an after thought; there isn't much more than what you see in the trailer. Don't get me wrong, they looked awesome, and in the sequence in which they fought, were badass, but ultimately they felt forced in for fan-service (and profits) with no real desire to make them relevant to the plot. If the Dinobots are one of the prime reasons for you going to see this film, I'd warn you off now.

Overall, the film was disappointing – it might satisfy Bay-formers fans, but I was hoping that the series was going to drag itself out of the mud in which it has been wallowing and reclaim (or surpass!) the glory of the first instalment. It is that hope that makes my scoring perhaps a little generous.

Final Score: 5/10

This has been Blacksmith, writing for The Awesome Update  

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