Greetings faithful readers! I apologize that it seems I have been somewhat silent for a week or so. I am still in the midst of some other things I am attempting to do related to the film industry and finding new ways to connect to it, so sadly, the blog sometimes gets pushed to the back burner. NOT out of a lack of WANTING to be working in it SO much more, but moreso due to other circumstances that just don’t permit me the time I would like. However, rest assured, I AM still around and will ALWAYS strive to at LEAST keep up the film reviews as I see them, and will also continue Spotlights as well. I appreciate the support and patience those who have and do read this work in progress have given me over the first 6 months of One Film Fan’s existence, and trust me…I ain’t going anywhere! So, that said, and speaking of film reviews, I give you my take on the next “event” film of the Summer, “Transformers: Age of Extinction”.
Directed by series regular Michael Bay and also produced by another series mainstay, Steven Spielberg, “Age of Extinction” begins with giving us another brief indication that our planet has been not only visited, but in some ways, drastically impacted in the distant past by forces associated with the Transformers and their two warring factions, the Autobots and Decepticons. Fast forward to modern day where a discovery by an Arctic excavating team leads to the realization of this now-established fact. We are then lead out to the rural home and life of a down-on-his-luck inventor and mechanic Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) who, along with his slacking surfer pal Lucas Flannery (T.J. Miller), do their best to eak out a life via various repair jobs for locals all while Cade is attempting to invent the ONE big thing that will get his head above water financially and also provide college tuition for his precocious 17-year old daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz). While trying to score some extra cash, Cade happens upon the wreck of an old semi cab, and thinking that it could be scrapped for parts, he spends what little money he has to tow it home, much to the chagrin of Tessa, whose frustration with whom she sees as a father wasting his life away, is apparent and a source of tension between the two. Meanwhile, we are also privy to the fact that ever since the battle in Chicago from the last film, “Dark of the Moon”, a faction of our government has decided (wrongly and foolishly) that the Autobots are no longer a viable ally, and at the behest of a shadowy former CIA official, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), they are being hunted down by an equally shadowy black ops unit called Cemetery Wind lead by James Savoy (Titus Welliver) and taken to be melted down, as a secret about the material they are literally made of has sparked a new evolution in technological advancement, which has been spearheaded by an unscrupulous businessman, Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) who has effectively made it his mission to SHOW that the Autobots, and ALL Transformers, are no longer needed. But, the ONE thing that has eluded Attinger and Joyce….the Autobot leader Optimus Prime. Back at the Yeager home, having discovered the old hulk of a semi cab IS more than meets the eye (HAD to find a way to put that in there, come on….), Savoy and his goons show up to try and take Optimus away. As this goes south, and the Yeager clan makes an escape thanks to an unexpected intervention by Tessa’s secret boyfriend, Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor), and then meet up with Optimus and the rest of the existing Autobots, most of whom no longer believe humanity can be trusted. But as always, Optimus is the leader and voice of reason, and upon finding out more details of what deviltry Joyce and Attinger are up to, makes it his new mission to destroy what they’ve created. And as the tale unfolds further, we see that Joyce has developed more than we originally thought and at Attinger’s insistence, starts using this new tech to hunt down Optimus, the Autobots, and the Yeagers. To top it all off, and add the final piece to the film’s antagonists, servants of the Transformer’s original creators arrive and we find in this an alliance revealed that threatens not just our heroes, but the entirety of humanity. And so the fight is on to save humanity, craziness ensues, battles are fought, alliances questioned and made, legends are unearthed, and the themes of loyalty, honor, and justice are, as always, ever present. Per usual, to really dive into much more than this would be venturing into the wonderful world of Spoilerville, and as we all know already, that is one place I refuse to visit if I can help it. Suffice it to say, the film goes in the directions you’ve probably already figured out.
SO….where do I start. Well, I guess with the good stuff. I saw the film in IMAX 3D, which IS, in so many ways, the method to really enjoy the feast for your eyes that films like this are meant to be. On that level, the movie does not disappoint. There are plenty of new Transformers to take in, whether good or evil, and the battle sequences involving them are the crazy over-the-top spectacles that you also expect, not JUST from a Transformers movie, but a Michael Bay-led action film. And this is fine. BUT….when the visuals are some of the ONLY things I can honestly point out as good…that may NOT be a great thing. The film is TOO LONG. Now, I am a huge fan of epic-length adventures (PLEASE give me more “Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar“), but the key is always that it needs to KEEP your attention for that entire time, and sadly, I found myself wanting to doze off in spots here and even when things action-wise WERE happening…after certain amounts of it in this case, I was rather tired of it, kind of worn out by the same thing over and over again. The overall story and dialogue wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring either, and while I PERFECTLY understand this is NOT the film necessarily FOR deep thoughts, some of it bordered on cheesiness, too much so for real enjoyment OVERALL. The story could have been done in two hours at most, but this drags out over 2hrs and 40min!! Mark Wahlberg, I must say, was more entertaining than Shia Lebeouf, as he at least makes Cade more than a cardboard cutout. I sometimes have a hard time seeing him play certain types of characters, as some are more believable than others, but in this, he does what is needed and again, is MUCH more engaging overall than Lebeouf ever was. Kelsey Grammer’s Attinger was not anything original in itself character-wise, but Grammer lends that ominous tone and presence to him that makes it a suitable government bad guy. Tucci often excels at extremes in characters, as he also has a manner about which he plays them that always makes me laugh (in a good way) and his Joshua Joyce is no exception to this. First the villain then a changed man, Tucci does his part for the role effectively as he usually does. It was incredibly hard to see Nicola Peltz’s Tessa as anything more than the (apparently) necessary eye candy (I mean, even when she was banged up or covered in dirt and ashes from battles…somehow, she still looked almost perfect. AMAZING h0w that works…lol), but I don’t put that blame on Peltz. She does fine for the material given to her. I guess it seems a little sad that it really seemed like a thankless role, though, perhaps at least a little deeper than Megan Fox in the previous entries. And the supporting turns by Sophia Myles as Joyce’s scientist partner Darcy Tirrel and Bingbing Li as Joyce’s bodyguard and business partner Su Yueming were solid. But, when it is all said and done, I have to end up ranking this movie along with what I felt about “Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Godzilla“….had some high expectations for all of them in their own right, and NONE of them ultimately delivered that total “WOW!!” factor I do want out of Summer “event” offerings (I mean, I actually geeked out MORE to the 2 minute TEASER trailer for “Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” than I did for this film!!)
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!