TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
Author: J.A. Hyde
June 26, 2014

SYNOPSIS: TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION begins after an epic battle left a great city torn, but with the world saved. As humanity picks up the pieces, a shadowy group reveals itself in an attempt to control the direction of history...while an ancient, powerful new menace sets Earth in its crosshairs. With help from a new cast of humans (led by Mark Wahlberg), Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise to meet their most fearsome challenge yet. In an incredible adventure, they are swept up in a war of good and evil, ultimately leading to a climactic battle across the world.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is big, brash, and loud. In other words, exactly what you’d expect.

Michael Bay said he wouldn’t direct another Transformers film after the Dark of the Moon installment…but he obviously changed his mind.

Except for the actors who voice the Autobots, the cast is entirely new. The time frame is 4 years after the Dark of the Moon installment, and the setting moves from Texas to Chicago to Hong Kong and back, except for a brief opening scene in the Arctic. After the Transfomers’ war almost destroyed Chicago and killed countless humans, an obsessed CIA agent, Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), is determined to destroy all remaining authentic, alien transformers and replace them with an army of “new” bots created specifically to protect human America. He is working with billionaire inventor and business magnate Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), and also secretly with a transformer bounty hunter named Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) who recently arrived from somewhere in deep space. Lockdown’s sole interest is to find and capture Optimus Prime and return him to his makers. In return for help with this task, he will give Attinger the “seed” – a type of bomb that Attinger believes will give his new “army” dominion over all. However, inherent in the word “bomb” is the threat of major danger and destruction. Oh, these deluded, paranoid types never learn, do they?

Meanwhile, most of the Autobots and all remaining Decepticons have been captured and broken down for parts, so to speak. Joyce’s company, Kinetic Solutions Inc., is rapidly producing new bots, including Joyce’s pride and joy, Galvatron (voiced by Frank Welker).

Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yeager, a widowed, idealistic inventor, raising his 17-yr-old daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Actually, it’s more like Tessa raising him since he’s perpetually broke and about to lose the family homestead. Cade’s business partner is surfer-dude Lucas (T. J. Miller) who is apparently supposed to bring some comic relief, but doesn’t. Of course, there’s a forbidden boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor), an Irish race car driver inexplicably living in Texas. The weak script provides some extremely lame dialogue between father and daughter, and then between father and boyfriend. Wahlberg struggles with the eccentric inventor thing, but fortunately improves greatly when he gets to do the action thing. According to the studio, he did 90% of his stunts.

Transformers: Age of Extinction runs about half an hour too long. The preview audience seemed very ready for things to wrap up. There was no applause at the end – maybe everyone was just too tired! The performances are all adequate, but the actors are severely limited by the weak script.

Dark of the Moon was a far better film. I never thought I’d say this, but I found myself wishing for Shia LeBoeuf! He gave the previous three films more personality than they probably deserved. - JoAnne Hyde

GRADE: C-


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