If you were able to somehow tap into the brain of a 12-14-year-old boy and project that boy’s thoughts onto a screen of some sort, chances are what you would see would be something along the lines of a fire-breathing robotic tyrannosaurus.
And, although I am now 25 years old, I think that fire-breathing robot dinosaurs are pretty freaking cool. Call me shallow if you will, but no matter how hard I try to keep him there, sometimes my inner 12-14-year-old self still manages to escape from his cage. I don’t know how the little scamp does it, but almost against my will, when I see a fire-breathing robot T-Rex some part of my brain says, “Yes. I need that in my life.”
And far be it from Michael Bay, that legendary purveyor of boobs and explosions, to not take that image and spend hundreds of millions of dollars bringing it to the big screen.
So far as I can tell, that’s pretty much the only reason Transformers: Age of Extinction exists. Michael Bay is a guy who has let his inner 12-year-old direct all of his movies, the result of which has been billions of dollars in worldwide box office grosses.
I have a mixed relationship with Bay’s Transformers movies. I genuinely liked the first one, I genuinely hated the second one, and the third one was a mixed bag. The fourth one was, despite the presence of a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex that also happened to breathe fire, kind of…well…boring.
This is partly due to the movie’s formidable length. For some reason, I had thought that the fourth movie was going to be shorter than the previous three, the shortest of which was still 2 hours and 23 minutes long.
Well, as it turns out, either I was completely wrong about that or someone was lying, because Age of Extinction clocks in at a whopping 2 hours and 45 minutes long, making it the longest Transformers movie to date.
And, yeah, I was really feeling the length of this one. By the end of the movie, I felt physically tired. I inadvertently saw the movie in 3D, which probably contributed to the headache I had after it was over.
The plot, such as it is, concerns a fellow named Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg, an inventor who becomes embroiled in the conflict between Autobots and Decepticons when he buys an old semi truck that turns out to be Autobot leader Optimus Prime. Cade is a likable enough fellow and Wahlberg does what he can with the role, even if his character is mostly a stock type. He’s the familiar movie character who is a single dad, loves his daughter but is overprotective of her, is super-smart but is kind of a screwup whose inventions don’t really go anywhere and who is running out of money.
Yawn. All of this is extremely familiar, and of course Cade’s daughter is a hot leggy blonde (played by Nicola Peltz, aka Bland Pretty Girl no. 57) who has a secret boyfriend (played by Jack Reynor, aka Bland Handsome Guy no. 89) that she doesn’t want her overprotective dad to know about. There’s also the shady government agent (played by Kelsey Grammer) and the rich industrialist (played by Stanley Tucci, looking a hell of a lot like Steve Jobs) who’s trying to reverse-engineer Transformers and has discovered that Transformers are in fact made of Transformium, which is the stupidest, laziest name for a metal in a sci-fi movie since Unobtanium.
I didn’t care about any of these characters or any of their relationships, and if a Transformer had landed on any of them and squished them all at any point I really would not have cared.
At least there was no Shia LaBeef. Mark Wahlberg is a far better actor than Mr. LaBeef, and in some ways, Age of Extinction is Bay’s most mature Transformers movie. There’s less broad racial humor, although some of it still manages to creep in every once in a while. There’s less doofy slapstick, which is also nice. And, to his credit, Bay doesn’t ogle his female stars nearly as much as he ogled Megan Fox in the first two Transformers movies or that random underwear model in the third movie.
But that’s really the only way Bay shows any restraint at all in this movie. The rest of the movie is an endless barrage of special effects which, despite being state-of-the-art and looking pretty great, are just so pervasive that they get numbing after a while.
I felt no emotions while watching this movie. I didn’t care about any of the characters, either human, robot, or dinobot. And the dinobots, by the way, don’t even show up until more than two hours into the movie.
There’s also a fat robot voiced by John Goodman and a samurai robot voiced by Ken Watanabe, and some kind of robot bounty hunter who’s obsessed with catching Optimus Prime for whatever reason. And in addition to the robot T-Rex, there was also a robot triceratops, a robot pterodactyl, and some kind of robot dinosaur with spines on its back.
All of this should be awesome, and yet…none of it can save the movie. It’s pretty much a lost cause. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but I’m still a little disappointed by how indifferent this movie made me feel. I don’t think the Transformers series deserves quite as much hate as it tends to get, but at the same time I certainly understand the problems that people have with it.
And despite the greatness of this poster, which I would not mind having on my wall, it’s not a movie I’m keen on revisiting any time soon. All it made me feel was tired.