Transformers has become a lot of things over the years. What started as a fun television series with a long line of toys and other merchandise is now a summer blockbuster franchise. The first film was over-the-top, but many of us found it enjoyable. From there, Michael Bay's series only went downhill. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was an absolute mess, as it took the plot into territory that simply makes no sense. Yet, 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon stands as the most nonsensical and dull entry in the series thus far. Fortunately, Michael Bay's fourth feature in the series might be extremely long, but it doesn't hold the title for being the worst in the franchise. There are plenty of eye rolls and sighs to be had, but it feels much more grounded than its past two predecessors.
Automobile mechanic Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) struggles to pay for his essential bills, as he tries to build the next great thing. His daughter, Tessa Yeager (Nicola Peltz), is unable to afford school herself and is starting to give up on her father's ability to be an adult. One day, Cade brings a truck to the farm that happens to be a damaged Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). Humans are trying to bring down the Autobots, and it's up to Cade and Tessa to help protect them from a paranoid government.
While the fourth film tries to move in a new direction by introducing new human protagonists, it doesn't fix many of the problems. It's most certainly a relief to not have Sam Witwicky on the screen, but Cade and his daughter are hardly a replacement. These are still highly one-dimensional characters that don't have a single ounce of personality. Writer Ehren Kruger injects as much human drama into this picture as possible, which truly feels like filler material. At the end of the day, the humans should be supporting characters who are simply either helping or against the Autobots. This irritant is only topped by the introduction of Tessa's older boyfriend, Shane Dyson (Jack Reynor). He has a level of disrespect that makes us question how he got written as a protagonist in the first place. Regardless, this shouldn't be a story told by humans. Ultimately, this is Optimus Prime's story, and it should have been expressed as such. Having this told from the perspective of a human pulls us away from what we actually care about in a Transformers film - robots fighting other robots. Nobody wants to stick around for the family drama.
As expected, Kruger's screenplay is filled with a bunch of cheese. While it doesn't all work, Transformers: Age of Extinction wears its badge proudly. It knows what it is, and has no apologies. Especially when the lines are coming from the Autobots, you can't help but get excited after that one tacky line that always leads into battle sequences. Unlike the previous picture, this entry surprisingly flows rather well, especially when considering how long it is. Running at 2 hours and 45 minutes, the movie remains interesting enough to keep our attention throughout. While there are some specific plot points that will leave you wanting to check the time, I found myself doing it a lot less than I did in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The fights themselves are what make the running time go by quickly. It's the human drama that slows the pacing down. However, you'll be asking yourself one question throughout the duration of the film - where are the Dinobots?
Those who were excited by the advertisements might be disappointed to know that the Dinobots aren't in the film as much as many of us would have liked. Fortunately, Michael Bay does what he knows best - explosions, and lots of them. There are plenty of action scenes throughout this film's duration, even though a lot of them involve the government. However, when it's simply between Transformers, it easily has the power to make adults feel like kids again. While some Autobots have returned, there are some new faces, as well. Seeing a fresh array of new combat styles and weapons will possibly even allow audiences to develop new favorites. Even though action fans will undoubtedly have a blast with these scenes, it's just a shame that it feels like we have to endure so much filler from the human protagonists before we get the chance to see the Autobots actually do anything.
Replacing Shia LaBeouf as the franchise's main protagonist is a tremendous decision. Rather, Michael Bay has cast Mark Wahlberg in the leading role of Cade Yeager. While this is most certainly an improvement in the talent department, he isn't given a lot to work with. He's convincing in a heroic role, but he isn't able to do much with the father-daughter drama. Nicola Peltz has been put through the Michael Bay translator to become Tessa Yaeger. Similar to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Megan Fox, she's primarily just there to look attractive. While she isn't quite as stale as they are, the role still feels entirely unnecessary. Stanley Tucci works for the majority of the running time in the role of Joshua Joyce. His yells are intimidating enough, but it's where his path leads that turns this performance into something that doesn't work very well. Jack Reynor's representation as Shane Dyson is even more one-dimensional than one would expect, and the remainder of the supporting roles only get worse. Well, I suppose that there's a reason that nobody attends a Michael Bay flick for the acting.
However, we do see Bay films for the huge sense of visuals. Transformers: Age of Extinction is no exception. This is just as big, if not bigger, than all of its predecessors. It plays across different locations around the world, and there are numerous large threats. Between the government, the Decepticons, and a new group of robots, the Autobots truly have their work cut out for them. However, all of the bots themselves look absolutely tremendous. The details found in their armor and weapons is jaw-dropping. Optimus Prime's blue and red simply pop off of the screen in a magnificent way. Every explosion looks absolutely wonderful, as you'll instantly be pulled into the action. The audio track is even better, as the bass will rattle through the entire cinema auditorium and leave your seat shaking. However, the visual style's one major flaw is its green screen when it meets its human actors. The blending doesn't come across as being very authentic, creating an incredibly tacky look. Regardless, the action sequences are absolutely intense in IMAX 3D. With the picture being as large as it is, and the audio being as loud as it is, fans will find themselves much more captivated by the action sequences. When it comes to the 3D department, it excels in specific moments, but it largely doesn't affect the viewing experience either way. Certain scenes sport a large amount of depth, while others will leave you wondering if you're even watching it in 3D anymore. If anything, it did nothing but cause the glasses to give me a headache by the time the credits started rolling.
Running only 10 minutes shorter than Blue is the Warmest Color, Transformers: Age of Extinction is extremely long. While it's more fluid than the previous entry, it still feels bloated at times. This is primarily caused by the large and unnecessary amount of human drama. This shouldn't have been a story told through the eyes of another human, as this is Optimus Prime's story. It would only make sense to tell it from his perspective. The Autobots have always been forced to take a back seat to human "heroism," when the real heroes are put on the back burner. Even so, this is an entertaining action flick that will satisfy those who know what to expect from a Michael Bay film. Transformers: Age of Extinction is loud and ridiculous, but it wears the title with pride. Rent it.