TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

By Gary Murray

Starring Mark Walberg, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci and a bunch of robots

Written by Ehren Kruger

Directed by Michael Bay

Running time 165 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Matinee

 

What do you do when you have one of the biggest franchises on the planet and all of your major actors have gone on to other works?  Re-boot!  That is exactly what the makers of Transformers, the Hasbro toy, had to do with the fourth installment Transformers: Age of Extinction.  They jettisoned the former cast and created a new adventure with new humans in the fray.

The film basically takes place five years after the events of the last film. But it truly starts about 65 million years in the past.  Didn’t we have this flash-back in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life? We find out that The Creators of the Transformers had a hand in the extinction of the dinosaurs. 

The main story takes place with Cade (Mark Walberg) a small time robotic inventor in Paris, Texas.  He is also a single dad with a beautiful teenage daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz).  It seems that mom passed many years ago and the two have become a very tight team.  On a scavenging hunt, Cade finds an old diesel truck that he can salvage for parts.  He soon discovers that the truck is actually Optimus Prime, the leader of the Transformers.

On the other side of the plot, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is a government agent who is hunting down the Decepticons after the battle in Chicago.  But, they are also hunting down all the Autobots.  It seems that he and his minions are single-minded in their pursuit of any automated creatures.  They seem not appreciate that the Transformers saved their butts.

In the next leg of the plot, Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) and his company KSI are reverse engineering the Transformers, trying to create his own mechanical force.  They have fashioned their own Transformer from different parts of the destroyed Decepticons.  Joyce names his creation Galvatron.  I guess that Joshua has never read Frankenstein so he has no idea what a bad idea this truly can become.

All of these plot points build to a confrontation with the reformed Transformers as they save mankind from forces both inside and outside of the planet sphere.  But, let’s be honest, the real reason people go see these films is to watch the robots fight.  And boy, do they ever fight.  This is a melee of CGI violence with clanging metal and flying debris.  Much like watching a wrestling match, the events up to the battle do not matter as much as the physical confrontation between the behemoths. 

The human actors do not have much to do in Transformers: Age of Extinction other than run.  That is basically what this film boils down to—it is a series of long chase scenes with robots destroying other robots.  The film basically becomes knights in mechanical armor with Cade as the squire and Tessa and the damsel in distress. 

One of the coolest aspects of the film is the introduction of the robot dinosaurs in Act III.  They are used in the climax and garnered many cheers from the au courant audience.  Since I past the age of childhood toys when the original Transformer toys came out, I had no idea there were also transforming dinosaurs.  They look great and are the big crowd-pleaser.

Of the human cast, it was surprising that Kelsey Grammer could turn out to be such an effective bad guy.  The comic icon just nails the smarmy CIA spook with the authority of great character actors.  Stanley Tucci is always grand in whatever role he takes and his billionaire scientist who does not see the folly of his futurism.  One hopes that he will be a part of the next adventure.

Director Michael Bay is the type of director who has very few non-committal viewers.  Either you love the man’s work or you hate it.  He is the man who directed Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor and The Island.  His films are filled with giant explosions and crazed camera moves.  This film has many of the same elements.  Some of the explosions are so jarring that is shakes the fillings in your mouth.  Transformers: Age of Extinction pulls few punches in its over-the-top mayhem. 

The film was shot with a new IMAX camera system and the images just jump off the screen.  The digital projection of the film looked amazing, crystal clear and every element in perfect focus.  For the tech-geeks, this camera is a god-sent and will be the standard bearer for years to come.  

Transformers: Age of Extinction is a film made for the fans and the fans did seem to enjoy the experience.  I have seen the first three films and would rate this one second best behind the first film.  It goes on for way too long but is doesn’t fail under its own weight.  The kids will love it but it is just not a film for adults.

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