Age of Extinction is the fourth instalment in the Transformers series and the first of a new trilogy. The standard for Transformer movies already has a reputation for being low. This movie is no exception, in fact it may be the worst Transformers movie to date. It continues the themes of mind-numbing explosions, shameless product placement, and objectification of female cast members. And to top it off, this movie is roughly two hours and forty minutes long. The audience knows these films don’t have to be perfect, but this one has too many noticeable flaws.
The film’s opening features a fleet of alien ships in space, heading towards Earth which we then see, is in the Mesozoic era, dominated by dinosaurs. Upon their arrival, the fleet begins to drop bombs that destructively mineralises matter into metal, effectively wiping out the dinosaurs.
We are then introduced to Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a simple inventor caught in the plight of financial struggles. He is in the midst of visiting an abandoned theatre in the hopes of buying and refurbishing something of value. The movie seems to make a jab at the movie industry, the owner of the theatre states: “The movies nowadays, that’s the trouble. Sequels and remakes, bunch of crap.” Though it has a point, it is ironic considering the Transformers series aren’t held in high esteem critically.
What Cade ultimately finds is Optimus Prime in truck form. It is heavily damaged and has been rusting away. He buys the truck and yet the owner was never aware of its presence, which is reminiscent of the first film with Bumblebee.
Cade is accompanied by his partner/employee Lucas (T.J. Miller) The movie makes no effort to make us like him. And also his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) who he is overprotective of which she finds inhibiting on her social life. Ironically, Cade has no problem with Michael Bay ogling her legs and behind with his camera. She is also in a secret relationship with race car driver Shane (Jack Reynor).
After working on the truck, Cade discovers that it is in fact a Transformer. However, Optimus Prime is desired by the government who are not opposed to killing people to get him causing them to become fugitives.
The movie isn’t well-paced. It introduces another important character an hour into the film. Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) who founded the company KSI. They are building Transformers of their own, including Galvatron. However, they need a material called Transformium which is what the Transformers are made of. Throughout the first and second act, Galvatron has little to no role. But in the third act, two hours and twenty minutes in, the film decides to set him up as the villain.
The main villain of the story, however, is Lockdown. He is an alien bounty hunter and one of the movie’s high points. He is the best Transformers villain yet. The context of his character is linked back to the aliens in the opening. It is revealed they created Optimus Prime, and have hired Lockdown to collect him. Despite the film being almost three hours long, Lockdown doesn’t get that much screen time.
I find this movie more tolerable than the first. The absence of the old cast and introduction of a new cast is refreshing, and a good move to start a new trilogy. The same also applies for the Transformers but they aren’t very likable. There is a racially insensitive samurai Transformer called Drift. Bumblebee is one of the most popular characters but he acts mindless sometimes, and immature. The highly popular Dinobots are also introduced in the third act. But they are devoid of character (and names).
The movie does make an effort to expand on its universe, adding a variety of new species. But then again, they have no impact on the narrative.
For the sake of plot convenience, the Transformer characters are often misplaced. They appear in one scene and vanish without question in the next. An example is seen during the car chase scene with Galvatron and Stinger. The two are pursuing five Autobots. However, seconds later a fight ensues and only Galvatron and Optimus Prime are present. You’re left wondering, where are the other five characters.
The score, done by Steve Jablonsky, is another high point of the film. The most notable, for me, is Lockdown’s theme which just adds to his uniqueness as a character. The song Battle Cry by Imagine Dragons is also intense and exciting.
Overall, Age of Extinction offers us exactly what we expect from a Michael Bay film.