You would have thought that director Michael Bay could have listened to the criticism thrown at the second and third Transformers films and taken it on board for this semi-reboot – but astonishingly he hasn’t.
Obviously a leopard can’t change his spots, with the fourth instalment in the blockbuster franchise being comfortably the longest yet. And it’s really long. Getting on for classic films like Dances with Wolves and JFK long. Bordering on sleep-inducing long. Like a ‘Duracell Bunny’ seemingly never-ending long.
After making very decent films like Bad Boys (one of my personal all-time action faves), Armageddon, The Rock, and the first Transformers, the guy has simply lost the ability to hit the edit button after his promising early career.
Fortunately, despite not knowing when to quit, it is ultimately better than Revenge of the Fallen and The Dark of the Moon – if only marginally – by providing slightly more cohesion… and Mark Wahlberg.
Out has gone ‘nutty’ Shia LeBeouf, as Wahlberg’s amiable presence helps provide a decent opening forty-minute set-up for this reported start of a new trilogy, set five years after the last film finished with the Battle of Chicago.
Since then the remaining Autobots and Decepticons have gone underground, and a shady CIA sub-division – headed by Kelsey Grammer’s Harold Attinger – have launched a major campaign to hunt down and destroy the remaining ‘aliens’ that brought this destruction to the planet, and teamed up with robotic intergalactic bounty hunter Lockdown in the process to make sure the job is done.
But when Wahlberg’s nigh-on-broke tech expert Cade Yeager (yep, really) stumbles across an old truck, it turns out to be the incapacitated Optimus Prime (voiced as ever by Peter Cullen), who is number one on Attinger’s capture hit-list – so he can hand him to Lockdown in return for a bomb called ‘The Seed’.
And after Yeager’s family – including Tessa (Nicola Peltz from TV series Bates Motel) and her boyfriend Shane (Irish heart-throb Jack Reynor) – is threatened while hiding the Autobots leader, this starts a chain reaction to bring down Attinger, who has joined forces with Joshua Joyce’s (Stanley Tucci) future-tech corporation.
Just to make matters worse, said corporation has been using the technology to make man-made Transformers for military use, and have inadvertently formed an almost flawless robot in the form of Galvatron – who has been made-up from the DNA left behind by ex-Decepticons leader Megatron.
Fortunately Prime can call on old pals such as Bumblebee (Mark Ryan), Hound (John Goodman) and Drift (Ken Watanabe) to join him – and the Yeager family – on this robot-to-car transforming ride of exhaustion.
All this comes together with the usual Michael Bay style of pan-and-scan camera work, blowing loads of stuff up… and extremely clunky dialogue. I.e. expect pretty much what has come before with a complete and utter lack of ingenuity.
The likes of Wahlberg and Tucci do the best with what’s put in front of them – while Peltz and Reynor just pout and flex as required – and the battles prove to be, well, less messy than the last couple of outings, with, as expected, some very decent special effects, that do come alive nicely in 3D.
Thankfully the Dinobots – including T-Rex-inspired fan-favourite Grimlock – are thrown in to add a touch of nostalgia, and Age of Extinction just about ticks enough chaotic boxes to be a blockbuster in disguise.
But for anybody wanting anything more, you may just wish your cinema seat transforms into a bed – thank you Showcase’s XLR seating! – or you could just feel like the sub-title is truly apt.
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Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles, TJ Miller, and the voices of Peter Cullen, John Goodman & Ken Watanabe
Running Time: 2hrs 45mins
Director: Michael Bay [youtube id=”S30VkLn5a2o” width=”600″ height=”350″]