Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (2014)
The TRANSFORMERS movie franchise makes one thing very clear above all else: Michael Bay has no respect whatsoever for the titular characters of these films. This is evident in AGE OF EXTINCTION more so than the other films, as he shows us characters that are completely removed from their source material, and even new characters are infused with ethnic stereotypes, despite them being machines that shouldn’t have racial connotations to begin with.
Blank Page Rating: 2 out of 5 Feral Dinobots
For those unfamiliar with the word ‘Retcon’, it refers to Retroactive Continuity, which usually occurs in comic books, due to one character or story being handled by multiple authors and creators over a period of decades. A new writing team may ‘retcon’ the previously established history of a character to make their characterization more in tune to the new story they themselves want to tell. That being said, never have I seen one creator, retcon his own work so many times, that it’s almost become an obligatory part of his process. With each TRANSFORMERS Sequel, Michael Bay undoes the stakes and history of the world that he himself set up in the films before. He continues the trend with TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (AoE) where the connection between Transformers and Earth now go back to prehistoric times.
What is really frustrating about Michael Bay movies, are how amazing his films can truly be, with a tweak here or there. AoE presents us a future into the TRANSFORMERS movie franchise where the machines are seen as refugees, after being condemned due to the damage and loss of human life after their own Autobot/Decepticon war in the previous movie. On the run and being hunted down by Humans themselves, The Autobots, mostly all new besides Optimus & Bumblebee, turn into bitter and jaded robots, who turn their back on human kind and want nothing to do with them. One would think that this characterization of the Autobots would be something that’s redeemed or changes through the course of the film, but not really, given how a huge part of the movie has Optimus threatening to kill humans and riding into battle on a Dinosaur yelling ‘I’m going to kill you all!’
The human protagonists are inventor and over all bad father Cade, played by Mark Wahlberg, and his teenage daughter with her age inappropriate boyfriend. They’re the ones that are caught in the middle of this epic Transformers rivalry that kills everyone and everything, but them. Because they’re the leads… of course. By the 4th movie, it becomes really hard to suspend one’s disbelief at seeing humans, who are to Transformers what squirrels are to us, travelling, running, fighting, getting thrown through the air and surviving in destructive battles amidst Alien Robots that are 10 times the size and destructive force of an average car. TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION completely undoes the significance of the 3 TRANSFORMERS movies before it, gives no motivations or reasoning for the actions of the characters, and insults the audience’s intelligence with 40 minute goose chases that don’t advance the story whatsoever and an ending that creates further conflict than the entire movie itself.
A Better Transformers movie:
Optimus and Wahlberg discuss being parents and bond over shared experiences of raising rebellious youth. Optimus relates his own experiences with Bumblebee, to Wahlberg’s attempts to protect his daughter. At the end of the movie, Megatron & Optimus have an ultimate one on one fight, where Megatron goads Optimus for having the same contempt for humans now that Megatron has always had himself. Megatron asks Optimus to join him in enslaving mankind and making a new Cybetron on Earth with their new human-made Transformer brethren. In an act of redemption, Optimus destroys Megatron, which ends his control over the human made Transformers, leaving them as empty shells without any sense of identity. With the Decepticon threat over for now, but with 50 new Earth born Transformers idling around, Optimus vows to stay on Earth, not for the humans, but now for the young Transformers in order to teach them their Cybertronian ways. This now creates a permanent link between all Transformers and Earth, given their Earth born brethren and connecting the parent-child relationship subplot that ran during the movie, between Wahlberg and his daughter, by having Optimus and his Autobots acting as surrogate parents for this new generation of Transformers.