OSW Review | Transformers 4: Age of Extinction (2014)

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction (2014)

Plot: The 4th entry in Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise. For causing so much destruction/loss of life in the last film, Humans hate Autobots again and are hunting them down. The CIA & tech company KSI are working to create/control their own Transformers, building off the remains of Transformers, notably Megatron. Introduced are the Creators, a race of aliens who created the Transformers, using a weapon called a “seed” to terraform Cybertron. A seed was used on Earth to wipe out the dinosaurs (which is pretty cool), and if used again, it’ll wipe out the human race.

Thoughts on the film:
• Before we start, I need to rant. This film is presented in a mix of IMAX and regular film – which means shifting aspect ratio (i.e. black bars most of the time, 16:9 fill the screen other times, like the Dark Knight). Unlike the Dark Knight, which generally only had establishing shots and long action scenes in IMAX, Bay has apparently filmed HALF OF EVERY SCENE IN IMAX, which means that the film is constantly changing aspect ratio. I can’t get over how much this affected the film. It repeatedly reminded me that it’s a movie: the result of putting together shots in a specific order. It’s beyond ridiculous – Bay must not have watched the final version before shipping it off. I get you want to denote which scenes are IMAX by the black bars, but it’s visually horrendous. Imagine if a film had 2 editors, and one editor decided to put a subtitle saying “This shot was edited by me” every time his shot came up. It’s like that. Horrific.
• Having dispatched with both Shia LeBoeuf and Megan Fox in lead roles, Mark Wahlberg plays John Everyman – sorry, Cade Yeager – a struggling inventor and overbearing father to Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and her boyfriend Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor), who all get mixed up in this war.
• Which brings me to Rant #2: Jack Reynor – a main character, the Irish race-car driver Shane. Although born in Colorado, he’s actually Irish, as he grew up in Wicklow. But he affects a STRONG Irish accent, making him a caricature. To make matters worse, he also goes between Australian and English accents during the film – it’s a constant embarrassment. This stuff is only ok’d by people who have no idea what they’re doing. For shame!
• Ok, that out of the way, Transformers 4 – You know what Michael Bay delivers, and he does. You can’t say you weren’t warned. Even if you haven’t seen TF1-3, you should know:
• His trademark over-the-top action style – Autobots and Decepticons knocking lumps out of each other, and that’s the main draw of the film. However, action scenes are so loud and so long it becomes visual and audio noise, and knocks me out. I’ve seen all of the TF films, and each time I’ve fallen asleep during the final 40+ minute action gauntlet. This film makes it 4/4. I had to go back and re-watch what I missed.
• There are many “posing” camera shots (long establishing shots of characters) that make the film feel like one long trailer for it’s own film. It’s very cheesy but hey.
• The needlessly grinding length (this one is the longest TF yet – 2 hours 45 minutes). Combine this with the action and it’s a potent sedative. Even for a Transformers film, it’s draining.
• American Pie silly adult comedy – replacing Mr & Mrs Whitwicky hilariously taking pot brownies and rolling along the grass, are eccentric KSI head Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) and Greg, White House Chief of Staff (Thoman Lennon), who bumble and wise-crack throughout the film.
• Along with the everyman character is the moral core to believe in humans (even if we do the wrong thing, we’re redeemed by the good things we do)
• But what’s good about the film? It’s quite flashy and big-budget, lots of long shots of expensive cars, action scenes have CGI shots with thousands of moving parts that must’ve taken millions of man-hours to create. Shia LeBoeuf and Megan Fox are gone, a good thing, I like Mark Wahlberg – even if he isn’t a great actor he’s quite likeable. It’s definitely an upgrade in the human department. Seeing Transformers transform is always cool, as is Peter Cullen’s iconic voice for Optimus Prime.
• Transformer-wise, we have a few returning and a few new ones: Of note, Autobots: Optimus, Bumblebee, Hound (fat beardy bot), Drift (Blue Samurai Bot), Crosshairs (Green). Decepticons are generally now this swirling block of metal that flies through the air to transform (which is very cool); Galvatron, made from a lot of Megatron’s old parts; Stinger (a heel Bumblebee, red), Junkheap, Traxes and a bounty-bot called Lockdown.
• Although still present, they’ve calmed down on the racist-stereotype comedy transformer.
• Dinobot-wise, we see Grimlock, Strafe, Slug and Scorn. LOVED seeing them, they fucking rock. They are why I was willing to put up with rest of the film. Have to note, the poster for TF4 was a huge detriment to the viewing experience – it showed Optimus Prime riding Grimlock. One big problem though – the Dinobots don’t show up until well over 2 hours into the film. So for 2 hours 13 minutes I was waiting for Dinobots to show up.
• Part of this film is set in the slums of China. This feels like a conscious decision to appeal to the Chinese market. It doubly provides a new location for the film, which is nice.
• There are some really obvious product placements that I won’t name. It’s desperately shameless. As if the Box Office’s guaranteed money wasn’t enough (it grossed over a BILLION dollars!)

OVERALL: In any event, it’s a light-hearted, action-heavy, noise-laden sequel with some cool bots and a children’s morality tale. It’s Transformers – you know whether you’re gonna like it or not. Watch the non-IMAX version. It was alright, but far, far too long (you could’ve cut an hour out of it) …Optimists would say “you get your money’s worth”, like a 3 hour RAW. I wouldn’t recommend.


Release Date
September 30, 2014