Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Someone has to admit that they had fun watching Transformers: Age of Extinction — Might as well be me, because much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the movies watching director Michael Bay work his master-class magic when it comes to high-octane action/bonanza filmmaking. To be clear, I am not a Michael Bay hater in the slightest. While the rest of the world seems to collectively want to impale the man to an anchor and then abandon ship, I’ve always been a fan. Now yes, don’t get me wrong, I 100% understand where all this animosity stems from. It’s certainly not rocket-science on this one, as the director’s films seem to have progressively dumbed themselves down to all-time lows (over the years) with beyond juvenile humor, atrociously penned screenplays, and distasteful content that not only abrasively pushes people’s buttons, but on this grander scale, Bay’s films (according to how many critics seem to respond to the filmmaker’s oeuvre) debase mankind.
Now maybe Bay is indeed guilty of cheapening some sort of foundation, or fabric to his films as his career has blossomed over time (and the director himself has gone on to obtain total creative control) but while I can agree with many criticisms targeted and launched at the man and his cannon of work, to be fair, the world is generally not so black-and-white. And for all of the negative regurgitations that I can condone, I can also combat just as many other criticisms with a legitimate loyal stance in support of Bay’s undeniable talent for shooting, framing, staging, and all-together orchestrating one hell of a phenomenal action set-piece. When I met cult-fav William Forsythe in 2009, I told him that I think The Rock is a “seminal action classic” and I’ll gladly take these sentiments all the way to the grave. And like The Rock, I absolutely adore Bad Boys (the entire shebang) Armageddon, Bad Boys 2 (though not nearly as much as I do the first). Unfortunately Bad Boys 2 is also where Bay’s composure noticeably diminishes in quality for me. Still the major through-line, regardless of decaying scripts and convoluted everything, is that the action delivered in all of his films, is pretty consistently top-notch.
So I was really only going to see Transformers: Age of Extinction for the action (I mean it’s the only component of these films that I’ve legitimately devoured and applauded). It’s what has kept me returning to the scene-of-the-crime. Heck, all I remember from the first Transformers film is actor Anthony Anderson yelling for two hours. All I remember of the second film, is John Turturro yelling for two and a half hours, and all I recall of the third one, is every actor on screen yelling and convulsing for close to three hours. Nevertheless, with this 4th installment (for the most part) I truly dug the full-throttle package served up.
First of all, I actually feel like Transformers: Age of Extinction strips itself of 75-80% of the stupidity that plagued all of its predecessors. And tied into this absurd notion of actually taking itself seriously for a change, I love (and kind of cared to follow) the entire alien/government conspiracy plot that somewhat unravels competently this time around. I found myself caring for the main Transformer leads more than I ever have in the past, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have John Goodman lending his massively endearing energy as a voice-talent. I mean at this stage in the game, including John Goodman in anything can only help to chalk-up some back-end bonus-points. I also applaud the addition of Mark Wahlberg who (I think) is a powerhouse force of serious energy in this film. Now sure, you have to buy him as portraying an inventor, but come on, if you’re considering buying a ticket to this movie, or you find yourself locked down in your seat so fast, you don’t even remember how you even got there, well then I take it you’re willing to see giant robots go BOOM — Wahlberg as an inventor actually becomes not so much of a far stretch in the larger scope of things. In any case, the cast (this includes Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci both bringing some nice level of fun to the table) works.
After I left the movie, upon heading home, I walked past a seemingly vacant lot. Suddenly, a well-concealed car revved its engine out of nowhere, and the vehicle’s headlights flashed in my direction. I swear there was at least ten seconds where my brain told me to run. This is all to say that while one could easily argue (and many critics/fans are) that Transformers: Age of Extinction is simply more of the same Bay schtick, please allow me the credibility, the chance to humbly advocate that this 4th installment just isn’t as bad as the others. For anyone whose been following my long-winded attacks against contemporary special-FX in cinema (and subsequently agreeing with my discontent) maybe the best thing I can say here, is Transformers: Age of Extinction truly offers up some mind-bending scenes of spectacle that I can’t even begin to properly describe. All I can simply say is that the lines between what is real and what isn’t seamlessly blur together in Bay’s repertoire of fire, and not only is this refreshingly stunning to witness, but — Okay, I’m going to say it, here goes… it “transforms” the jaded moviegoer me into a kid again.
Watch the Transformers: Age of Extinction Trailer