Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is an inventor. He buys junk and transforms it into useful contraptions. He also does electronics repairs for his neighbors on a donation basis. He is trying to make enough money to pay his bills and send his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz) to college. He’s not faring very well.
On one of his junk buying trips, he purchases an old, beat up semi from a run down movie theater. (How the semi got in the movie theater, I have no idea. And no clue is ever given.) He takes the semi home so he and his assistant, Lucas (T.J. Miller), can tear it down and sell it for scraps. When Cade discovers that his semi is actually a Transformer, he decides to repair it and bring the robot back to life.
Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is the head of the CIA Black Ops force in charge of hunting down the Transformers responsible for destroying Chicago. He employs a ruthless Transformer by the name of Lockdown (Mark Ryan) to help track down and destroy them. Attinger operates under a cloud of secrecy, with no supervision, leaving him to use whatever means necessary.
The corpses of the captured Transformers are given to Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), the head of KSI, a corporation using the materials and technology in the Transformers to improve existing technology. His latest achievement is building prototypes of his own line of Transformers, better in every way.
So as to not give anything away, I’ll stop there.
Transformers: Age of Extinction has been getting torn apart by critics. Yes, it is flashy and overdone. It is loud. There are some major plot holes. But, given that it is the 4th in a series based on cartoons from the 80s whose sole purpose was to sell toys, what do you expect?
Age of Extinction was marketed as a reboot of sorts of the Transformers franchise. With it, we get a slightly different feel than the Shia LaBeouf days. Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, and, well, basically everyone in the cast all give the type of performance you would expect from this type of movie. Stanley Tucci provides the lion’s share of the comedic relief in the movie. Giving it a charm that only Stanley Tucci can.
Michael Bay, of course, leaves his own signature on the film. There are plenty of explosions. Shaky footage. Ear-shattering effects. And the man has perfected the lens flare that many directors shy away from. Put it in 3D, and it is near majestic. I think he may have set a record for the film with the most collateral damage as 2 major cities are almost completely reduced to rubble.
Again, the movie is not without its faults. The first of which would be it’s almost 3 hour runtime. You could shave off an hour and still be left with as good a movie as we are given. Surprisingly, though, it didn’t feel excessively long. The long run time gives you plenty of time to contemplate the myriad of questions you will have about what exactly is going on in the movie. Who is Lockdown? Where did he come from? And why is he hunting down specific Transformers? Where did the Dinobots really come from? And why is Optimus Prime allowed to ride Grimlock? What is all this talk about the seed, and where did it come from? Why does everyone need to shift everything from Chicago to Beijing? Aside from having a motorcycle chase through the crowded streets and a martial arts fight, of course. Are we supposed to forget about all the people who would have been injured or killed as a result of the action? Is the title of the movie an excuse to bring in the Dinobots? What was the purpose of putting Thomas Lennon in the movie? Why is Frasier in charge of any Black Ops? I could go on.
Sure, everyone can sit and pick this movie apart for days. But you have to remember. It’s a Michael Bay movie. About alien robots who turn into cars. And dinosaurs. For what it is, it is a decent enough movie. Don’t get too analytical about it. Sit back and enjoy the spectacle. (Enjoy it at the theater, in 3D, if you’re going to see it. That is the way it was intended to be seen. Plus, remember, lens flare perfection.) That is all it is meant to be. And your kids will love it. Just like you did when you were younger.