"Transformers: Age of Extinction" (aka, Transformers: AoE, Transformers 4, Trans4mers etc) marks the fourth (duh!) outing for the "Bayformers" live action TF movies, which surprised many people as the ending of DOTM pretty much wrapped up the storyline for the Bayformers, you know, what with nearly everyone getting killed off and all that.
Set 5 years after the climactic battle which saw Chicago levelled as the Decepticons tried to teleport Cybertron into Earths orbit and then enslave mankind and stuff, coupled with the sudden, but inevitable, betrayal by Sentinel Prime, it seems that humans and Transformers don't get along any more. Although the surviving Autobots are said to have been granted asylum on Earth, and approximately a dozen Decepticons are known to be at large, a secret-ish division of the CIA known as "Cemetery Wind" spends all its time hunting down and capturing both Autobots and Decepticons (Ratchet and Leadfoot are shown to be both hunted down and killed).
As it turns out though, Cemetery Wind is pretty much just a front for making its commander, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) a rich man, as he then passes the bodies of the "captured" Transformers on to a megacorporation known as KSI industries where its pompous CEO, Joshua Joyce (played by Stanley Tucci doing a really, really good impression of the late Steve Jobs) then experiments on them in order to develop and manufacture human built "Transforming robots" in order to sell them to the military etc.
HOWEVER!, things go a bit awry when as it turns out, Cemetery Wind and KSI are both in league with an unaligned Transformer named Lockdown, who is on Earth to collect a bounty placed on Optimus Primes head by his "creators" (who, in the opening scenes are shown to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs by cyberforming parts of Earth in order to mine "Transformium" to build more transformer robots for themselves).
So, Optimus Prime, along with Bumblebee and newcomers Hound, Drift and Crosshairs, as well as their new human chums Cade and Tessa Yeager and Shane (Tessas boyfriend) battle against both the cemetery wind, KSI and Lockdown in order to stop stuff from happening that will probably lead to the extinction of all life on earth and so on.
Oh yeah, KSI has unintentionally rebuilt Megatron (Now called Galvatron, but he isn't a purple repaint) as one of their robot drone weapons and he eventually frees himself from human influence and takes over the army of vehicon drones and causes some trouble.
Oh also, some Dinobots make an appearance towards the end of the film to boost the Autobots numbers.
Ah, yeah, erm........
At nearly 3 hours long AoE, when viewed as just another sci-fi action film isn't too bad, it fulfills all that is required of it in order to be considered a standard Hollywood Blockbuster, and uses the following cliches:-
- MOAR EXPLOSUNZ!!! - Standard trope from any Michael Bay movie, it would be pointless to comment any further on this.
- All Chinese people know kung fu! - yes, there is one "main" character who is Chinese, plus a couple of throwaway Chinese characters that feature during the bit set in Hong Kong, all of them somehow know kung fu...you know, because they're Chinese. Also included is a bit of casual racism as the character played by Li Bingbing is told by Stanley Tuccis character that he cannot understand what she is saying.
- "This is important!/No its not!/That is irrelevant!" - Some characters are introduced and seem to be on their way to being a big player in the storyline...then they either vanish for no reason or are killed. Additionally, some plot avenues open at the beginning, then get ignored/forgotten at the end.
- Carry on regardless! - The Witwickys, N.E.S.T and Agent Simmons, all big characters in the previous three films are gone, and not even mentioned...at all, as though they never existed.
- Maguffin-tastic - "Transformium"...dafuq?
- Object of attraction/Jailbait - Right from the very start, male audience members are directed to find Tessa Yeager attractive, being as she spends nearly the entire film wearing skimpy clothing items and being a damsel in distress. however, despite her make up being applied so that it draws attention to her dialated pupils, flushed skin and red lips (all visual cues for female sexual arousal) we are informed that she is only 17, and thus a minor (according to American standards) so therefore can be looked at but not touched, something which is played upon during the course of the film in an attempt at creating "humourous" dialogue. the other two female leads, played by Sophia Myles and Li Bingbing don't really receive enough screen time to be considered "main" cast members, instead mainly acting as "plot filler-inners".
So, did I like it?
Er, ooh, Id say "like" is far too strong a word. On the whole, the film is yet another example of a throwaway sci-fi action flick that includes characters of which I am familiar with, which was designed and intended to shift merchandise in the form of childrens toys.
The plot is ridiculously weak, and the film watches like a series of action and car chase scenes edited together with some "talky bits" that shovel fairly basic character development at you in big, difficult to digest chunks.
As a lifelong fan of Transformers, it is quite uncomfortable to sit and watch in places, namely the bits where the "new" Transformers are shown transforming simply be disintegrating themselves and then reforming into robot/vehicle mode, and also bits where the Autobots openly discuss killing people because they are a bit pissed off with how they have been treated (although given the storyline, they do have a right to be pissed off).
The ending of the film is as formulaic as they come, with a big battle happening, lots of explosions and death followed by a "happy" although ambiguous ending, thus setting up the plot for "Transformers 5 - We aren't Quintessons, Honest!"
Final score - 5/10 - Impressive SFX but ruined by a crap storyline and the desire to shift merch.