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Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers Age of ExtinctionA review by Nalini Haynes
  • Director: Michael Bay
  • Writer: Ehren Kruger
  • Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor
  • Watch this if you liked: Michael Bay movies, Godzilla, Iron Man 3

On Monday night, Paramount rolled out the red carpet (literally) at IMAX for a cinema full of reviewers to appreciate the first screening of the ‘splodey-fest that is the latest Transformers movie.

Cade Yeager, Yeager, not Jaeger like the robots in Pacific Rim. Completely different. Cade Yeager-not-Jaeger, played by Mark Wahlberg, is a struggling inventor scavenging for parts. He and his assistant Lucas (T J Miller) visit a run-down former cinema where they see a projector that ‘might even be IMAX!’ (presumably because I’m watching this in IMAX). Yeager is more interested in a rusty truck, which he purchases for $150 of Lucas’s money.

Upon arriving home, Tessa, Cade’s daughter, rants at Cade for bringing home a useless piece of junk and all the other stuff people dump on their doorstep, as if she doesn’t know their only source of inadequate income. Although, apparently, Tessa balances the check book and pays the bills – when they have money to pay the bills.

Cade activates a transmission linking the truck to Transformers.

Five years after ‘Chicago’ (said in the same tone as you might say ‘9/11′), all alien activity must be reported to the government. Cade, Tessa and Lucas argue about whether to report the truck for the reward so the Yeagers’ won’t lose their house, Tessa can go to college and Lucas gets his share. Cade overrules Tessa and Lucas, continuing repairs on the truck.

Cade nearly blows his daughter up but presses on, regardless. Because he’s SUCH a loving and caring father, putting his daughter first.

The truck comes to life; Cade realises he’s found Optimus Prime only to discover the government showed its gratitude for the Autobots saving humanity (Transformers: Dark of the Moon) by destroying the Autobots.

Lucas goes into town to get supplies – again with his own money – and is gone a very long time, his return coinciding with a government raid on Yeager’s home.

Cade puts Optimus Prime before his daughter yet again when government agents threaten to shoot her.

Optimus heroically bursts out of the shed, where he hid successfully even through a thorough search. He plays decoy, attacking, in self-defense, before leading the traitorous humans on a series of chases involving lots of cars, transformers, cars, explosions, cars, transformers, cars, explosions, shooting, explosions, dinosaurs… Did I mention shiny cars and explosions?

Michael Bay, never known for his subtlety, lost the plot with this one while focusing on his strengths: Age of Extinction is special-effects-porn and fan-service-porn, for which Bay is famous.

Cars and women are objects of desire, creating a visual feast for viewers. Money shots include pausing the action to focus on SHINY CARS, panning from headlights to rear bumper, or pausing the action to focus on SEXY WOMEN, panning from rear bumper to headlights.

Although it’s tempting to bemoan the lack of depth of character of the few women in Age of Extinction, it would not be fair. The men are all two-dimensional characters too. If any human behaves stupidly or out of character, you can be guaranteed this behavior is the trigger for the next chase scene.

Old Transformers have been murdered by humans, one of whom survives in Dark of the Moon-esque ‘cute’ form. (Is Michael Bay, like Peter Jackson, starting to make fan-fic of his own work?)

I would have loved more cheesy dialogue; if the characters are bland and the plot thin, make me laugh. Age of Extinction has some humor but, as pics of shiny cars and sexy women don’t keep my attention, I would have appreciated more. Or a shorter movie.

Having said that, the explosions and fight scenes are full-on. If you’re planning a visit to a cinema, pay the extra $5 to see it in IMAX large screen 3D glory. I wasn’t just tempted to flinch and duck when things flew in my direction, I actually did, at least once, even though I’m getting quite used to 3D movies (am spoilt). When the evil Transformers’ guns point out of the big screen, the barrel larger than a couple of stories, or a mechanical dinosaur roars at you while nearly taking a piece out of the human perpetrator, imagery is riveting.

And that Transformer dinosaur breathing flame is a sight to behold. There should have been more of HIM.

Transformers: Age of Extinction shouldn’t surprise anyone with its preference for chase scenes and explosions overriding plot and characters. Made primarily for the ‘male gaze’ and those women who enjoy looking at women and cars, the periodic ‘splodey scenes are fabulous, from Lucas dying horrifically to ships being dumped on Hong Kong roads.

(Did I mention that Transformers: Age of Extinction took the action away from San Francisco and New York, preferring to trash Beijing and Hong Kong instead? Possibly to cater to an appreciative Asian audience.)

Overall, I give Transformers: Age of Extinction 3 stars with a note that if you only want cars and explosions you’ll probably give this movie 5 stars.

IMAX has the trailer and some images in the gallery. The trailer includes the dinosaur breathing fire but there aren’t pics of him in the gallery. 

★★★☆☆ 3 out of 5 stars

Although IMAX gave me free tickets, this review is written independently and honestly. And, seriously, who wouldn’t want to see a ‘splodey movie on the big screen?

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Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.



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