Friday Features: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' review

Friday Features: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' review

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Part sequel, part reboot, director Michael Bay once again creates a large-scale, fantasy action/sci-fi spectacle in "Transformers: Age of Extinction," based on the Transformers toy line by Hasbro.

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by HAYDEN PITTMAN

WFAA Special Contributor

Posted on June 27, 2014 at 12:09 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 27 at 5:58 PM

Part sequel, part reboot, director Michael Bay once again creates a large-scale, fantasy action/sci-fi spectacle in "Transformers: Age of Extinction," based on the Transformers toy line by Hasbro. Using a sizable amount of impressive, computer-generated special effects, backgrounds and settings, and other imagery, hit-and-miss comic relief, thrilling action, and a fairly recognizable cast, "Age of Extinction" has much to offer for fans and moviegoers. At the same time, this film is vastly over-stuffed, very similar in many ways to Bay’s previous Transformers films, features a variety of over-the-top dialogue and action, and is way too long.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" begins four years after the events of the previous three films and the battle of Chicago between the humans and the Transformers/aliens. No longer trusting the Transformers who had been loyal to the human race (Autobots), a military task force is currently hunting all remaining Autobots and Decepticons, the good and bad Transformers, respectively. A covert government group is also in the process of gathering Transformer technology to create their own robots and apply it to other resources.

When inventor and mechanic, Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), stumbles upon an old truck and takes a look under the hood, he quickly realizes that he has found the famous Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. After the government is notified and comes for Optimus, Cade and his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz) are threatened and taken by the military group.

While all of this is happening, we find out that the leader of the government group, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammar) and KSI tech corporation head, Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), have made a deal with ancient Transformer/alien bounty hunters to hand over Optimus Prime in exchange for more Transformer resources. Cade and Tessa must work together with Optimus and the other Autobots to save themselves, stop Attinger, Joyce, and the bounty hunters from getting what they want, and once again save the human race.

If that synopsis seemed confusing at all, that only breaks the surface on this movie. It’s filled with multiple plots, side stories, good and bad characters, multiple set ups, build ups/climbs, climaxes, resolutions and more. It felt like watching several films in one never-ending, massively-overloaded presentation. It has a whole lot going on as it holds on to past story lines from the previous movies while creating new characters and conflicts.

Something out of the ordinary for most films was how the screen format was presented. It was like there were two different screen sizes; sometimes, wide screen with black borders, and other times, the normal standard format. It was annoying at times when it would switch back and forth during a scene. Like other movies of this nature, there is a fair share of corny dialogue, good and bad attempts at humor, out-of-place comments during odd times, dramatized content, and more.

Similarly, there are many ridiculous and implausible actions, dialogue, plot points and content, such as an average person sneaking into a high-security research facility, walking across wires or cables from the top of one skyscraper to another while being attacked by Transformer dogs, fighting and making deals with the Transformers/aliens, the passengers of certain Transformer cars getting thrown around in the air, caught and carried by the Transformers, etc. This film is obviously fantasy and science fiction, and some of this is to be expected, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any rules or accountability for what appears to be real or not. One of the best elements of these films is the ability to make the impossible and fictional look as real as can be. Let’s not push it anymore than already done.

This film does have its share of thrilling action, entertaining content and stunning visual effects. From a Transformer standpoint, most of the new robots have more recognizable facial and body features that cause them to look more human-like, and you can almost make out the actor playing and voicing the character. There is an abundance of new, nice-looking cars, flying vehicles, alien weapons, and other technology.

This installment uses different techniques, camera perspectives, and special effects like slow motion to feature more crashing buildings, explosions, robot hand-to-hand combat, gunfire, gravity-defying feats and all-around chaos than ever before. For someone who is not used to all of the computer-generated enhancements and fictional digital add-ons, the presentation can be disorienting, large, and loud at times. For someone who enjoys this, it can be quite entertaining to watch.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction’ features numerous popular and well-known actors, either for live action roles or voices of the robots. A few of the actors not mentioned already include Jack Reynor, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, T.J. Miller, Peter Cullen, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, and more. There is more than enough comic relief and funny comments or reactions throughout, in large part due to Tucci, Miller, and Wahlberg.

It’s a bit disappointing to see how familiar Michael Bay’s newest Transformers film is – reusing a story about corrupt, greedy, powerful men who make a deal with the aliens, a random, outside character who gets in the middle, and the Autobots having to save the human race – but this newest episode is worth seeing at least once for multiple reasons. It presents some of the best and worst parts of what has made Transformers so popular on the big screen.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo. Running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.


Hayden Pittman is a special contributor to WFAA.com and a freelance film critic and entertainment blogger out of Dallas. More of his content can be found on YouPlusDallas.com and his author archive here. For more of his reviews on WFAA, click here. He is a film, TV, and sports enthusiast, and when not writing reviews or covering an event, he works in film production. As an average, passionate film lover who rarely misses a film, his reviews are straightforward and his way with words will let you know in a simple way what he thinks. Don’t like what he has to say? Let him know at haydenp@youplusmedia.com or follow him on Twitter at @HPMoviePitt.

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