With Transformers: Age of Extinction, Michael Bay creates his longest, loudest and most explosive product yet. That’s what you’ve got to consider these movies at this point anyway; very expensive products built for consumer demand and consumption. I really was on board for the beginning of this franchise, although I wasn’t a huge fan of Transformers as a kid. I even enjoyed the first movie quite a bit, with all its shortcomings. Yet with Age of Extinction, Michael Bay makes it clear that these movies are a brand first and foremost. Story telling and emphasis on strong characters takes a backseat, and Bay is behind the wheel of the loud, sexy muscle car as it roars off a cliff, accompanied with explosions galore.
So let’s get to what you’re all clearly here for; the plot of the movie. The remainder of all Transformers on Earth are being hunted down and terminated by the CIA, with the help of a bounty hunter transformer named Lockdown. He’s one of the cool parts of the movie, with his huge, badass ship and a cold, calculating demeanor. Meanwhile, Cade Yaeger (yep, that’s his actual characters name) has fallen on hard times, unable to support him and his daughter financially with his Robotics and invention business. He buys an old abandoned truck from a movie theater, which just so happens to be Optimus Prime in hiding. This kicks off the story, as Cade and his family, along with Optimus, go on the run from the evil bounty hunter, with the CIA hot on their trail.
My first thoughts on leaving the movie, were that it was WAY too long. Clocking in at over two and a half hours, I just don’t understand how they couldn’t shave off almost an hour. I actually started dozing off in one of the middle action scenes, which shocked me because these movies are so damn loud. I think what helped pull me back in was the introduction of Stanley Tucci’s character. The guy is absolutely great in everything, and Age of Extinction is no exception. I got the vibe that he was totally aware of the movie he was in, and just rolled with it. There’s one scene in particular that I’m going to be quoting for awhile. He’s yelling at his employees for ruining the code for the Galvetron they created, as he slams a chalkboard, yelling “Algorithms! Math!” The guy is incredible.
This movie also has some of the most outright shameless product placement I’ve ever seen. It’s like ‘Beats by Dre’ and ‘Bud Light’ approached the producers and payed for full-on commercials for their products in the movie. None of them have any narrative use at all, and I was completely blown away when it happened. I think Age of Extinction is the culmination of movies as brands, or products, whose sole purpose is to increase revenues on a spreadsheet. It’s becoming a trend these days, and this movie is the most extreme example yet.
I’m holding out hope that there’s going to be a renaissance one day soon, where people want more out of their film-going experience than cities being blown up. I actually feel a bit guilty for paying to see Age of Extinction, especially the same week the great looking indie ‘Snowpiercer’ came out, but I plan on seeing it soon anyhow. That’s going to wrap up my ‘old man shaking a cane’ rant for tonight. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more movie write-ups (Don’t worry, no more Michael Bay movies).