Writer: Casey ChongWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Transformers", "Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen" and "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon".
The first three "Transformers" movies, which began its way for the big screen in 2007, were often criticised for its haphazard plot, bad acting, distasteful comedy and of course... the long running time that ran for an average of 2 hours and 30 minutes! But like it or not, you can't deny that director Michael Bay knows well on how to attract sizable moviegoers with his effective mix of cool-looking robots, impressive special effects, big action sequences and extremely photogenic stars (e.g. Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley); all points worthy enough for a must-see movie at the cinema. Three years later after the huge financial success of 2011's "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon", Michael Bay returns with more cinematic mayhem or "Bayhem" as we like to call it, via "Transformers: Age Of Extinction", and this time, Bay makes a noticeable effort by stepping up his game to deliver something different than the usual "Transformers" movie we have seen before.
The story takes place after the events of "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon" where the Chicago war remains a much talked-about incident around the world. Many of the Autobots and Decepticons who remained on Earth are either killed or forced into hiding since the authorities, spearheaded by shady agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), begin hunting them down. In the midst of the chaotic events are Cade (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter, Tessa Yeager (Nicola Peltz), who both come across a beat-up ordinary truck which actually is Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). Soon, all hell breaks loose when Attinger's black-ops team, led by Savoy (Titus Welliver) and Decepticon bounty hunter Lockdown (Mark Ryan) manage to track down Optimus Prime while putting both Cade and Tessa in grave danger.
Among the significant changes from this movie is the absence of its juvenile humour, which previously was over-done in the first three "Transformers" movies, instead, Ehren Kruger's script is surprisingly gritty and more serious-minded in its overall tone. Such a radical move might disappoint those who have grown accustomed to the first three movies' upbeat approach, but rest assured that he still maintains most of the blockbuster elements that made the "Transformers" franchise so financially successful in the first place.
However, at 165 minutes (that's 2 hours and 45 minutes!), Kruger's script suffers a lot from a serious case of overkill. While it's understandable that those who went in for a "Transformers" movie are mostly expecting nothing more than watching a bunch of metal-clanking robots beat the crap out against each other, it's hard to ignore the heavy-handed narrative structure that often kills the momentum of the movie. It's obvious that the movie tries to cram in as many stories as possible (e.g. subplot about the central father-and-daughter relationship between Cade and Tessa; the elaborate government conspiracy involving Attinger and a research scientist for a man-made Transformers, Joshua Joyce (played by Stanley Tucci); and the mysterious agenda that Lockdown has against Optimus Prime) but the overall execution feels too weighty and all over the place.
The all-new cast, in the meantime, delivers uneven performances here. Despite the movie's welcoming change-of-characters from a teenager's coming-of-age quest (Shia LaBeouf who played Sam Witwicky in the first three movies) to a more restrained father-and-daughter relationship, both Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz doesn't leave much of a lasting impression. Jack Reynor, who plays Tessa's secret-racer boyfriend Shane, is all good looks but hardly impresses as a worthwhile actor, while the appearance of the popular Chinese actress Li Bingbing is sadly undermined with a role that feels more like a product placement in favour for the China market. Kelsey Grammer is perfectly typecast as the sinister-looking Attinger, and Stanley Tucci gives an enjoyably hammy performance as Joshua Joyce, but last but not least, its Peter Cullen who again delivers his perfectly distinctive voice as Optimus Prime.
While the story and most of the characters here are more of a mixed result, Bay's direction manages to give what his fans want when they come for a "Transformers" movie. That is of course, the effects-laden extravaganza filled with enough robot vs. robot action, chase, explosion and shootouts. The special effects are totally amazing and eye-catching enough to keep your eyes glued on the big screen. Not to mention also is the effects for the Transformers robots which are so visually captivating as usual. As for the action department, Bay doesn't disappoint. Although there are times he tends to go overboard with his shaky camerawork, most of the action sequences here are simply breathtaking. But the most entertaining moment of all is the edge-of-your-seat final showdown at downtown Hong Kong between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Here, it's really refreshing to see that Bay has finally done his fans a huge favour with the inclusion of Dinobots during the climactic finale. Although the appearance of the Dinobots has not much of a screen-time as this reviewer might have hoped for, this movie makes a good start, nonetheless.
"Transformers: Age Of Extinction" may be only slightly above par from the previous "Transformers" movies we have seen before, but one thing's for sure is that watching this effects-heavy summer movie blockbuster at the biggest screen you can find, is a totally satisfying cinematic experience.Cinema Online, 24 June 2014