Transformers 4: Age of Extinction Review
I've always been a huge fan of the Transformers series for as long as I can remember. I used to watch the series as a kid and to this day I still buy the figures. When the first movie came out in 2007, as an enthusiast in the series, I found myself absolutely loving it, the 2007 holidays devoted to everything related to the first movie. There was so many things to like about it too, from the plot, to the characters and the soundtrack lead by Linkin Park, my favourite band. The movie was clearly not perfect, but for me it was all I wanted in a Transformers movie. Then came Revenge of the Fallen in 2009, a movie that silenced my enthusiasm in the series, completely ignoring everything that made the first movie great and replacing all the dialogue with explosions. Then came Dark of the Moon in 2011, a movie that was just mediocre all around, and had an unbearably frustrating finale (Optimus is a dick!), but it still convinced me to get some of the figures. With 2 lacklustre entries in a row, I wasn't really enthusiastic about a 4th instalment, but my love for the series prompted me to go for the first showing on the first day and be first in line. I believed that the series could be redeemed, and return to the heights of the first movie. Now, having watched it, I could say that Transformers 4: Age of Extinction, is the movie that can redeem this series, standing alongside the first movie.
So what made me like this movie? It's the improvements done to the movie in comparison to its predecessors. There actually is a plot this time around, the characters are much more likeable, the toilet humour has been removed, and you can actually understand what's going on in front of you. The movie is much more serious that the last 2, a little more serious than the first movie. The change in the cast is also refreshing, Mark Wahlberg being a superior lead to Shia Lebeouf. For the most part, the movie is actually intense, with the action being contained to the few characters, much unlike the last 2.
The plot, which actually exists and isn't too bad, follows from the events of the last TF movie. After the battle in Chicago, leaving thousands dead, humans decide to take their safety into their own hands. Apparently they don't appreciate a "hero" who deliberately lets the enemy kill them to prove a point, great going there Optimus. They hunt all surviving Autobots and eliminate them with help from a Cybertronian bounty hunter called Lockdown. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is caught in the conflict and in hunted alongside the Autobots. There's 2 sides to the plot, as expected, a human and Transformer side.
The human side, this time around, doesn't steal the show from the robots. Since the humans are the villains, their part of the plot doesn't feel forced, and it doesn't get in the way of the transformer plot. The humans are more likeable, especially Cade and Joshua (Stanley Tucci), than Shia Lebeouf, Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley ever were. The human villains actually feel like a threat, unlike in TF3, since they actually are proper villains.
On the Transformer side, there's a reduced number of Transformers and an increased amount of characterization. The Autobots are all recognizable, we know their names, and they have defining character traits. They show emotion, expressing rage at their betrayal and sorrow at the loss of their comrades. There isn't any racially insensitive characters this time, nor any annoying comic relief characters. Everyone is serious and grim, the movie feels darker as a result. Then there's Lockdown, a fantastic villain who's a genuine badass that strikes fear in the hearts of his enemies, and not a giant puss-cake like the Fallen.
The movie goes along, for the first 2 hours at least, there's this intense Autobot Spec Ops thing going on. For once, the robots are actually in disguise, having to hide a bit, keeping any action contained. This goes on for about 2 hours, then at that mark, everything just goes berserk. I could imagine Michael Bay reviewing the unfinished movie and telling himself "so 2 hours in, and there isn't shit being blown up, just this boring characterization and coherent action." He then promptly blows everything up, and then does the same in the movie. From that point on, the movie is then filled with shit being blown up like all the other movies have. Really it's just boring to go from a tightly knit action movie to a shit being blown up movie, you have no idea what's going on as there's metal thrown everywhere. From that point, you can actually feel the 3 hour runtime, as your mind gets exhausted from the sensory overload that lasts for around 45 minutes. If they cut out about an hour from this movie, cutting down the finale, this would've been a much better film.
I'm not even gonna comment on the special effects, it's a Transformers movie!
So my rating for this movie is a 4 out of 5 Stars, the same rating I gave to the first Transformers movie. It's a massive improvement over the last 2 movies, despite it having the same overly long runtime and abundance of explosions. This being said, it also has a giant robot that transforms into a giant robot dinosaur that breathes fire, who is mounted by another giant robot that's wielding a shield and sword. Your argument is now invalid.