Film Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers: Age of Extinction certainly offers spectacle, thanks to great special effects and sound design. It is a pity that not as much effort was put into the plot of Michael Bay’s film.

Five years after the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons took place in Chicago, all alien robots are considered to be a threat by the US government. With Autobots being hunted down, when an self-styled inventor buys an old truck, he thinks he has found a Transformer…

Like the previous Transformers movies, Age of Extinction suffers from the problem of visual style over narrative substance. It seems like a lack of thought has gone into the story and plotting, which detracts from the positive aspects of the film.

The plot of Transformers: Age of Extinction is riddled with holes. There are elements that are introduced at the beginning of the film that are swept aside, or not really dealt with in any tangible way. There are various narrative strands at play, which explains the lengthy run time. However, some of these strands do not tie in successfully with others.

Transformers: Age of Extinction suffers from the problem of having to juggle various narrative elements, yet even with this abundance of activity the film lacks depth and purpose. Bay’s film feels overlong; there is too much in the first half of the film that could have been trimmed down.

With the various elements being introduced at the beginning of the film, at one point it appears as if screenwriter Ehren Kruger may have something interesting to say about threat and the nature of alien. However this gives way to the everyman story of Mark Wahlberg’s Cade and his family, which simply is not engaging. At least Stanley Tucci’s character shows some personality. Any hopes of a more tangible narrative are dashed by the undisguised product placement and the most overt political propaganda (in order to appease or appeal to a specific market).

Transformers: Age of Extinction redeems itself slightly with the climactic action scenes, which offer spectacle and some excitement. Visual effects are superb, with action scenes looking fantastic on an IMAX screen. Sound also works well to cement a sense of spectacle.

Most viewers who flock to see Transformers: Age of Extinction will not care what the reviews say. However, even these cinemagoers may hanker for a little more depth and narrative coherency.

Film Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is pretty much the quintessential Michael Bay movie. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on your predilection for the director’s work.

Since the last war with the Decepticons, the Autobots have been living on Earth peacefully and helping the humans with their conflict problems. When the Autobots hear about a Cybertronian spacecraft that was found on the moon by humans, they race to get hold of it. The Autobots and humans must ensure its cargo does not get into the hands of the Decepticons…

Transformers: Dark of the Moon suffers from the same ailments as its predecessor, Revenge of the Fallen. It may look and sound great, but there is very little substance to the film beyond this. The narrative leaves a lot to be desired. Although the initial premise sounds quite adequate for a second sequel, its execution lets the movie down.

Lessons were not learnt from the last film. The pacing in Dark of the Moon is off; too much time is spent building up to the ending action. As a result, the ending is anticlimactic. It feels protracted; there are too many lulls before the big fight. Any momentum that had been building is offset but a lack of strong direction. The film goes on for far too long. There are plenty of scenes that could have been trimmed significantly, or even omitted altogether.

Screenwriter Ehren Kruger’s dialogue is terrible at times, especially from the machines. There is humour to be found in the film, particularly around the central character of Sam. However, the film relies on crude national stereotypes in its depictions of the Autobots and Decepticons. The cartoon series has much greater character development than this film. Elsewhere, the lack of attention to detail is just as palpable. New characters are introduced, yet some of them just disappear before the final third of the film.

The effects are superb, and the entire film has a glossy sheen. Dark of the Moon is also one of the rare cases where it is worth seeing a live-action movie in 3D. The sound is bombastic, pulsating through the action sequences. However, Steve Jablonsky’s score is sometimes reminiscent of Hans Zimmer’s The Dark Knight soundtrack. This is compounded by a set piece where the action and location are strikingly similar to one in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film.

Performances vary throughout the film. Shia LaBeouf is amusing as ever as Sam. John Malkovich is good, but underused in his role. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, however, is atrocious. Although the role of Carly requires her to do little but look attractive and be rescued, she is incredibly inauthentic.

So much energy was expended in the special effects for Dark of the Moon, and it really shows in the end product. It is a pity not even a small percentage of this effort was put into the screenplay.