Pauls Valley Democrat
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma — As someone who has taken devious pleasure in poking rabid fans as they foam at the mouth over changes in their beloved universes, I admit at first I was looking forward to a little ribbing of those who would undoubtedly be enraged with today’s title. Having found something I enjoyed to some extent in all three prequels, I figured it was a long shot that the filmmakers would screw it up so much that even I couldn’t find a way to lavish praise.
That was before I sat through two hours and forty minutes of content so ADHD, that an entire season of SpongeBob Square Pants seemed focused in comparison. Just as one might be amazed with a choreographed fight in one scene, the next we’d be wondering whether everyone needed to be treated for bipolar disorder as they couldn’t decide if the characters wanted to smash or hug each other (Optimus: I hate all humans and I want to crush you into goop. Human guy: Hey we all make mistakes. Optimus: Ok, I’ll get my chest cavity blown out again for you). “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction” appears to struggle mightily to escape the events of the previous trilogy, but can’t seem to build enough of a foundation to ever actually become a standalone chapter.
After a brief introduction that reveals how aliens systematically wiped out the dinosaurs with lava guns, the story picks up four years following the battle of Chicago with all of the transformers, including Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), hiding from humans who want to ethnically cleanse their kind. Enter super nerd inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a man who says he is doing whatever he can to put his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz) through school (short of actually getting a real job, but you stop caring and wish she would be the first casualty of the movie), who finds and helps partially jumpstarts the battered and junked Optimus back to life.
We then figure out through the genius script writing that the master plot to rid the world of transformers involves a not so secret plan (I’m not sure because at one point alien robot body parts are being auctioned in an internet video) concocted by CIA mastermind Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer). It will involve creating their own transformers through the help of corporate partner Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) and teaming up with an alien transformer bounty hunter named Lockdown (Mark Ryan), because nothing of one thing is the same as a bunch more. Oh and because it would be way too hard to follow the cool example set by the 1984 movie where Megatron is morphed into Galvatron (Frank Welker) by planet eating menace Unicron, we’ll just replace him with a way lame earth manufactured substitute (Galvatron: I’m way more evil than Megatron because I have no robo conscience or soul, you know because he was totally a nice guy who had second thoughts about being evil. But you’ll have to wait until the sequel for me to prove it, bwa ha ha ha).
Of course, the real tragedy here is how Michael Bay manages to Joel Shumacher the dinobots like Grimlock into being no more than vehicles to be ridden and not heard (granted their dialogue in the cartoon wasn’t strong to begin with, but they are just tools now). Throw in several scenes of frantic and unnecessary dialogue (instead of proper back story to better explain why we should all care) and before you realize it, even the expectedly awesome explosions aren’t enough to keep you interested.
I’m not sure if Bay was listening to those who scorned him about the previous three efforts, but maybe this was his best attempt at trying to think things through (I mean come on, even Transformnado would have been acceptable) and in the mess got mixed up trying to create half a dozen rushed side stories. I do believe I really would rather watch paint dry or sit through a Toxic Avenger marathon than have to sit through this again. For what I agree is the weakest entry of the series so far, “Transformers 4: Age of Extinction” earns a barely awake one and three fourths out of five energon cubes.
Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.