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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Winter 2014

Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014) movie review

Transformer fans, roll out!

Okay, let's start by saying, with a Michael Bay/Transformers film, you pretty much know what you're going to get and you're either going to love it or hate it. So, I doubt any review is going to make you change your mind with regards to these films.

With that said, I am a huge fan of these films. I haven't loved everything Bay has done (Pearl Harbour and Armageddon being prime examples), but when I do, it absolutely blows me away.

Yes, they're dumb (to an extent); yes, the 'story' is just a bridge to each action set piece; but when it's right, it's exhilarating.

movie poster, Transformers Age of Extinction, Festivale film review; 220x343

Movie poster, Transformers: Age Of Extinction

The new 'cars and planes and stuff turning into giant robots and beating the living shit out of each other' movie opens five years after the last film. Officially, the Autobots are Earth's allies, celebrated and praised for helping to defeat the Decepticons at the battle of Chicago. In reality, the Autobots are all in hiding, with Optimus Prime missing. You see, there are shadowy forces at work in the CIA whose agenda is less than pleasant...they see ALL Transformers as enemies of Earth and are dedicated to hunting down and eradicating them. They feel that these aliens are transgressing on Earth's soil and we shouldn't be giving them sanctuary. Kelsey Grammer leads this black operation, but he also has another agenda. He is in cahoots with both a rogue Transformer bounty hunter AND a multi-billion dollar technology company (headed by Stanley Tucci), who are developing Transformer technology for their own purposes...

There's actually a hell of a lot going on in this film story-wise. You have Mark Wahlberg as a destitute mechanic/inventor, who is barely eking out an existence for him and his daughter on their soon to be repossessed farm house. He inadvertently finds the non-functioning Prime and brings him back to life. This incurs the wrath of the CIA ops, called Cemetery Wind. The rest of the film then involves an extended chase sequence with this black ops outfit hunting Prime and his human allies, while they try to bring the remaining Autobots together and find out just what the f*ck is going on.

Unusually for a Michael Bay film, there's actually a lot of subtext in the story if you want to look for it. There's the treatment of people foreign to the place they are residing. There's a hint of criticism surrounding excessive use of force, police brutality and unlawful surveillance. There's the ever popular 'scientist playing god' as Stanley Tucci's company builds what are supposed to be controllable upgrades of Transformer (but which inevitably run amok)...

Of course, this is all buried for the most part and won't be noticed by those of us who came to watch THE ACTION!!! I have to say, Transformers 3 was my absolute favourite of the bunch, with some great set pieces and awesome Prime dispensing kick ass beat-downs. While there's plenty to love in the new film, including John Goodman voicing fan favourite Hound shooting everything in sight and, of course, the Dinobots (with one missing for some reason...), I found that the human characters were more compelling than the robot action.

Yes, it's well done and suitably brutal and manic, but there was also a lethargy there, a kind of 'seen it all before' feeling that just wouldn't go away. It was actually the three bad guys that made it for me; Kelsey Grammer and Titus Welliver as the CIA mob (two dimensional characters, three dimensional acting) and Stanley Tucci as the egocentric scientist who comes good in the end. There are some genuinely humorous moments with Tucci's character and some real emotion as well. My only criticism is that the two really strong female characters (Sophia Miles as an archaeologist and Li Bingbing as Tucci's assistant/partner/f*ck knows what) have hardly any screen time.

They were solid actors both and could have had much more to do with the unfolding plot (especially Li, who has a blink and you'll miss it scene kicking the shit out of a generic bad guy with her kung fu). Never mind, we still had Nicola Peltz (Wahlberg's character's daughter) swanning around in the tiniest of denim shorts...

All in all, not the best entry in the series and there's a lot that isn't explained properly (who is this Transformer bounty hunter? Who are the aliens we see at the very start of the film, turning dinosaurs into metal fossils?) but I still loved it and the 3D was very restrained (something I've noticed in many 3D films of late).

Transformer fans, roll out!

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by Paul M. Feeney
Paul M. Feeney on Facebook
Australian release 26 June 2014
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: Transformers: Age Of Extinction (2014)
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Directed by: Michael Bay
Running time: 165 mins

The Players: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and a shit load of CGI...

Official website:
IMDb entry

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