A Bot Mess
I’ve come to the realization that all of the Transformers movies have been running on the fumes of the nostalgia from my childhood. The movies and moments in the series that I like the most are the ones that closely mirror the cartoon from when I was a young kid, and those moments are getting few and far between. I think those rose colored glasses are starting to wear off, or have already gone bye-bye.
Transformers: Age of Extinction was something I was actually really excited to see. Don’t get me wrong there are some great moments and good thrills in this movie, but it has the same problems as the previous entries and more. Not only is the run-time ridiculous (almost three hours, there better be Hobbits running around this bitch), but there are things that as a fan of the Transformers I cannot forgive.
The other thing I’ve come to realize is, if you are a fan of the original Transformers you need to forget everything you know to enjoy these movies. Of all the gripes I could have about this movie, my biggest problem is that these are not my Transformers and to me they have not been improved upon. But we’ll get to that.
The movie opens five years after the mayhem of the third flick, Dark of the Moon. Decepticons are being hunted and almost wiped out, and we’re told remaining Autobots have been given sanctuary. It doesn’t take long for that to be shown as a big old line of bullshit. The American government (or part of it), and a private company have been hunting down any and all Transformers, regardless of allegiance. To what ends I won’t reveal, but it’s not for a tea party.
Elsewhere, we’re introduced to our new human friend characters, Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yaeger, his buddy, his daughter, and her boyfriend. They aren’t the best characters you could hope for, but after the “acting” in the other flicks reverted to Shia LeBouf screaming the whole time, any change is a welcome one. Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Fan Bingbing round out some supporting characters, and all do pretty good in their respective roles.
Cade, a robotics engineer who is somehow unemployed in a world populated with alien robots, finds an old truck in a rundown theater, takes it home, and tries to refurbish it. This truck is, of course, an injured Optimus Prime. It’s not long before Prime is resurrected (and shortly after that miraculously at 100%), and bad military black ops guys are hunting him with the help of new Transformer, Lockdown.
From there it’s basically the expected action flick we’ve come to enjoy (or mostly enjoy) or dread from these movies. There are explosions, car/robot chases, explosions, robots transforming in mid-air to catch humans, explosions, shouting, and explosions. Let’s not kid ourselves- these are not good movies but at least they are somewhat fun.
The live-action Transformers movies are a little bit like an abusive relationship. Ever since the first one was announced there have been ups (Steven Spielberg is producing!) and downs (Michael Bay is directing!). The promise of greatness is there and nerds fall into the batting eye lashes of these flicks faster than you can say “Peter Cullen is voicing Optimus Prime.”
But with each entry, the movies have fallen short of the promise, and when nerds lean in for that sweet, cinematic kiss- the franchise balls up its fists and punches us right in the jaw (fart jokes, racist robots, bad script). To be fair, the only real bad one is the second in the series, but the first one has only fleeting moments that help us forgive its faults, and the third one is just flat out borderline boring.
Well, parts of it are boring. Basically these movies are both good and bad, and that’s why fans of the cartoon get so damn upset. We love these characters, and what has been done to them is outright lazy storytelling. Sure, the effects are great, but that can’t help a tired story. Make no mistake- these are all the same movie with the same story.
It would almost be excusable if not for the fact that these egregious wrongs were perpetrated on us time and again. So much so, we here at Rhymes With Nerdy have been posting predictions about things that are most likely to occur in this newest one. Those predictions can be found on the Facebook page.
Most of the predictions, or at least part of them, are true in this movie. Though, the one giant compliment I can give is that the movie is not preoccupied with the U.S. military the way the others were. However, it seems to have been replaced by an overwhelming amount of product placement. I can even tell when they’re hocking Chinese products, which has become a big part of Hollywood’s strategy in making up for slumping U.S. ticket sales. It could have just as easily been called Transformers: Hong Kong Fooey. Or, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if one of the characters had been named Budweiser.
As I said earlier, though, my biggest beef is the apparent lack of understanding of the Transformers as characters, at least the Autobots. Hearing Optimus Prime yell, “Now you die!” in Dark of the Moon was a little unsettling. But here, in Age of Extinction, he’s downright bloodthirsty. And this is exemplified in the biggest and only real spoiler I’ll share for the movie….
Optimus Prime kills a human being. Not only does he kill someone, but he stops in the middle of his final battle with Lockdown to blow away Kelsey Grammer’s character in the chest. I was actually made angry by a Transformers movie. They set this up earlier in the flick, and I was okay with it thinking it was just talk, but then they did it. And they tried to justify it. Prime was apparently just trying to protect Cade, and had no other choice. But given the fact that Prime up to that point seemed practically eager to do that kind of thing, it comes off as more of a revenge act. I don’t appreciate one of the icons of my childhood being turned into a murderer.
But along with that, the rest of the Autobots are no better. Sure, the story is supposed have them at a place where they are disenfranchised with the human race, but they have become little more than Decepticons who say they’re on the good side. They’re cynical, bickering mercenaries with filthy language (why do they Autobots have to swear so much?). I lost sympathy for one of them so much I wanted him to get his. Like I said, these are not the Autobots from my childhood, and they shouldn’t be the Autobots for this generation, either.
And the last thing…You may have asked yourself why a Transformers fan has thus far failed to mention the Dinobots in this movie? Because they aren’t worth mentioning. Basically every bit of their involvement is in the trailers and commercials as they appear for about 15 minutes, and have no real purpose it seems than to shut up the fan boys who were begging for them.
Final Verdict- Does it really matter what I say? You’re going to have decided to see this or not already. I doubt my thoughts and opinions on the matter are going to change anyone’s mind. Just know, despite some fun and thrills and humor, this movie is waaaaay too long, shits on beloved characters, and wastes more opportunities than it takes advantage of. For all the changes and talk of refreshing these movies, it’s the same old hat. Perhaps it’s time the franchise went extinct, at least for a while, until they can come up with truly new ideas.