Transformers: Age of Extinction was AWFUL, but I’m not telling you anything that you probably didn’t already know.
The first installment of this quadrology of misery was a mixed bag at best. On one hand, it introduced us to Shia LaBeouf, who seems to have only gotten the job because an actor who could ad-lib on the fly would save a boatload of money by not having to write a script, and Megan Fox, who taught the world that you didn’t need a personality or acting ability so long as you could sexily lean over a car and make kissy faces. But on the other hand, we were treated to giant robots punching the shit out of each other.
The plot was full of Vader-sized holes, the actors were all incredibly annoying, and the concept of a can launching Mountain Dew robot was laughable at best, but the robots were AWESOME. The final battle was incredibly competent. I enjoyed the way the human military worked in tandem with the Autobots. I liked Starscream and Megatron taking out targets and then transforming and flying across the city to continue fighting while a bunch of other shit happened below. I liked watching people run for their lives while a bunch of shit got wrecked all around them. it was such an enjoyable finale to a film that I was able to overlook the whole “Megatron came to earth to try and use the Allspark to take over Earth’s technology even though twenty minutes prior to explaining that we were told that all of Earth’s technology had been reverse-engineered from Megatron himself” thing.
I was so pleased, that when the second film, Revenge of the Fallen, came out I saw it in IMAX opening night with some former friends. It was over nine-thousand percent worse than it’s predecessor. The annoying ad-libbing was turned up to eleven, millions of billions of lame (and sometimes downright racist) robots were given screen time to sell toys, yet never mentioned by name, and a mockery was made of Devastator, My all time favorite Transformer.
I have seen three films in IMAX thus far, and not a single one pleased me.
The less said about Dark of the Moon, the better. Up until this point I had been going into the Transformers films, with their awful shaky-cam, too close to see the action cinematography with the knowledge that I would not be receiving a rewarding experience, but REALLY needed to see some giant robots punch and shoot other giant robots. As a 29 year old loser, I NEEDED it, and Michael Bay was the only person giving it to me in the live-action format… Unless I wanted to try and watch G-Saviour. I would rather drive nails through my own penis with a hammer than watch G-Saviour.
Then I saw Pacific Rim. Oh my God, Pacific Rim.
I have watched Pacific Rim a total of FOURTEEN TIMES thus far. That’s more than double the amount of times that I’ve watched all of the Transformers films COMBINED. I would turn down sex for the opportunity to watch it. It showed me that there was another way. Giant robots punching shit could be done properly. sure, Pacific Rim had just as many plot holes as your average Transmorpher flick, and the acting was all over the place, but it was self aware enough to sneak in a Rocket Punch. Gulliermo Del Toro can do no wrong in my book, just as long as his name isn’t attached to a boring Spanish horror film that college kids will drink boxed wine while watching.
So as you can imagine, I could give a fuck less about Transformers: Age of Extinction. I didn’t even know it was a thing until my not-girlfriend stressed the fact that she wanted to see it. Keep in mind that I work in a movie theater, and therefore must have walked past a giant cardboard cutout of a fire breathing robot dinosaur on almost a daily basis. In fact, I only saw it so that I could complain about it on the internet to feed my massive nerd ego, which I am doing now.
Much like how Megan Fox was magically replaced by an equally dull yet sexually attractive female in the prior film, none of the human characters make a return this time around, proving that characters are entirely interchangeable in Michael Bay films, and take a back seat to CGI and explosions. The plot is standard Transformers fare, with the good guys fighting to gain control of a MacGuffin, which the humans have somehow become involved with, so that the bad guys can’t use it to destroy/conquer/terraform/etc. the planet. But fuck it, the movie promises to have a gigantic, robotic, fire breathing dinosaur at some point. They’re really picking the bones of the Transformers franchise at this point, and I am sure the next movie will feature a bastardization of Unicron, since he’s pretty much the only big thing left to fuck up.
Whereas the first movie gave us a small handful of robots that a casual fan of the cartoon would recognize, each with a decently fleshed out personality, the following endeavors almost entirely concentrated on one defining factor per robot. If you’ve ever had the dissatisfaction of watching Bleach, you know that the more characters that you have, the less interesting they each need to be, and the more merchandise you can sell. This movie takes it to a whole new level, featuring such loveable characters as a racist Asian helicopter who only speaks in haiku, an overweight military truck who somehow manages to smoke a giant metal cigar, because “why not?”, and evil carbon copies of the only two likable Autobots in the movie.
I could deal with the goofy troupe of anime villains who wear sunglasses and trench coats and call themselves “Cemetery Wind” for some reason. I could deal with generic stoner guy being a Carmine and getting conveniently incinerated by an alien grenade as soon as another character joins the party. I can deal with Ratchet, the only surviving likeable robot from the prior films being murdered within the first five minutes of the movie. I can deal with Mark Wahlberg firing a SWORD like it’s a GUN. I can even deal with the fact that Optimus Prime’s cartoon design found it’s way into the movie for no other reason than to piss me off. I can deal with all of this because I know that at some point in this movie, I am going to see a giant robot dinosaur breathe fire. Much like how Robocop 2 is the only movie I have ever encountered that featured a drug addicted robot cop, I have latched onto and become obsessed with this concept.
The plot was all over the place, with waaaaayyyy too many loose ends. I couldn’t help but to be reminded of the Spiderman 3 fiasco, and the human characters constantly switched motivation. One minute generic boyfriend guy is the coolest badass to ever be a badass, and the next minute he’s a massive coward who literally throws his weapon to the ground and surrenders at one point.
During the first half of the movie when Fake Steve jobs is evil, he’s a no nonsense bad guy who gives speeches about changing the world through science. He even has a cool moment during his allegiance switch which has him somberly admitting that he’s made a mistake as an elevator door closes on him and supposedly his life, only for the second half of the movie to feature him as a hero who whines, cries, panics, PISSES HIMSELF, and has a Chinese lady keep him safe. The Autobots present themselves as a bunch of inoble assholes who would rather threaten to shoot each other than do anything heroic, and the Decepticons are nowhere to be found, despite the fact that the collectible 3D Glasses that my theater gave out for the opening week of this film came in “Autobot” and “Decepticon” varieties. Hell, the goddamn logo for the movie features half of a Decepticon emblem.
I had to apologize to my buddy Eli for inviting him to watch this movie. I don’t have to pay for movie tickets, and I still felt like I wronged my friend by selecting this particular film to view. Multiple people in the theater were caught checking the time on their phones… repeatedly. It seemed like the movie would never end. It was like some form of torture. I am not exaggerating when I say that it ruined my evening.
But goddamn, when those Dinobots finally show up for the last ten minutes of the movie, It’s pretty fucking awesome. I can’t wait until this movie is old news so that I can watch the parts where Grimlock eats smaller robots on Youtube. It was entirely satisfactory. Much like the Decepticons, though, I feel that it’s pretty dirty to feature the Dinobots so prominently in marketing materials for the movie, only to give them a small and harmless cameo that doesn’t add anything to the overall story in any way, shape, or form. Just ten minutes of eye candy. Still, seeing a giant truck swinging a sword around while riding an even bigger dinosaur that shoots fireballs out of it’s mouth while hauling ass through a busy intersection was admittedly hype. I’d give the movie a 5/10. You’d spend your time better by watching Pacific Rim, but Pacific Rim doesn’t have giant fire breathing robot dinosaurs… Yet.