[Movie Review] 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' Is More Than Meets The Eye
The Transformers are back in their biggest spectacle yet in the action-packed Age of Extinction, introducing an all new human cast, a lot of new alien robots, and a new emotional core to the largest and loudest movie franchise returning to theaters this summer.
Mark Wahlberg (Boogie Nights) plays a widowed inventor raising his rebellious teenage daughter, played by Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel), under a sometimes overprotective eye in rural Texas, far removed from great “Battle of Chicago” depicted in the the last Transformers flick, Dark of the Moon.
That battle is the 9/11 of this movie, and the alien Transformers who brought their war to Earth that day, both the evil Decepticons and the heroic Autobots, are now all branded as wanted outlaws, hunted and terminated by an elite government “black ops” team masterminded by Kelsey Grammer (Frasier, X-Men: The Last Stand).
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games) is great as a billionaire inventor who discovers how to create his own Transformers, with predictably disastrous results that lead to the return of the Autobots.
Without Shia Labeouf, Josh Duhamel, or any of the original cast members from the first three films, Wahlberg and Peltz do a good job of presenting a believable family dynamic in their brief scenes early on, when Dad brings home a rusted old truck that turns out to be the legendary Autobot leader Optimus Prime.
The father-daughter duo argue and lecture each other, but by the end of the film, they are quoting each other’s lectures, having learned a few life lessons along the way, just like the human characters would have in any random episode of the vintage 1980s animated Transformers TV series that I grew up on (along with pretty much any adult half as excited for this movie as their kid is).
This is easily the fastest moving Transformers movie yet, speeding at an unrelentingly brisk pace, with far fewer scenes of extended explanatory dialogue clogging up the almost three-hour running time, as they did in the previous three Transformers entries.
These are movies built around the shock and awe of the action, and Age of Extinction also has the most epic-scaled action sequences of any of the films in the franchise so far.
By the time the Dinobots show up late the final act, the chest pounding soundtrack and eye popping visual effects had me so enthralled, I almost had to clap out loud for their arrival.
Make no mistake, there are problems with the script, but if you are buying a ticket to see the fourth Transformers movie, you know by now what you’re in for and you will totally get your money’s worth with Age of Extinction.
The only returning main characters from the previous three films are Optimus Prime, voiced as he has been since the Transformers debuted on TV in 1984 by the great Peter Cullen, and his fellow Autobot Bumblebee, who talks by using various quotes from dozens of movies and TV shows.
While Bumblebee was the first Autobot introduced in the 2007 original Transformers and has been the robotic heart of the first three films, this time it’s all about Prime, as the righteous good guy leader takes his rightful place among this summer’s biggest cinematic heroes.
Prime takes center stage in the alien storyline this time, over the little used Decepticons as well as the ruthless and badass new bounty hunter antagonist Lock Down.
While Optimus is the heart of the movie, it’s the father-daughter combination of Wahlberg and Peltz that give the franchise it’s new emotional center, effectively grounding the awesome eye candy and aural bombast with the very relatable human anchor of a family looking out for each other.
This is probably my favorite of the four Transformers films, mainly because it doesn’t waste time getting to the robot action and also doesn’t spread the human drama too far and wide among too many different characters, eliminating many of the traps that all three of the prior films fell into.
It may not dominate the Oscars this year, but the latest Transformers film is the best yet, proving that even after three decades since debuting on toy shelves around the world, these durable “robots in disguise” are far from extinct.
Official Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Transformers: Age of Extinction (rated PG13) is now playing at R/C KDH Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills.