TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION {Movie Review} – by Chris Ferrarelli

Despite the financial success of the earlier live action TRANSFORMERS movies {“Transformers” (2007), “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (2009), and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011)}, fans of the beloved franchise had expressed their doubts and concerns over how these movies were handling their favorite characters; with much of the criticism going to the director of the trilogy, Michael Bay {“Bad Boys”(1995), “Armageddon” (1998), and “Pearl Harbor” (2001)}. Spending over a year in story ideas with help of screenwriter Ehren Kruger, Bay wanted to take the franchise back to its roots, with new characters as well as some familiar faces.
The story is set some years after the events of “Dark of the Moon”, and most of the Autobots that had survived were now being pursued and hunted by a rogue CIA faction that is bent on eliminating them. Elsewhere, an amateur inventor (Mark Wahlberg), who is trying to come up with ways to help save his home and farm, winds up discovering a slightly used semi-truck that had been damaged over time. It gets revealed that the truck is not only a transformer, but it is the Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen).
When the CIA agents attempt to arrest Wahlberg and his daughter, Prime comes back into action, with some help from some of the new Autobots as well as the returning fan-favorite of the Autobots, Bumblebee. As the story progresses, it is revealed that the head of the rogue faction (Kelsey Grammer, “Frasier”, “X-Men: The Last Stand”) made a deal with an alien bounty hunter, who was hired by the creators of the Autobots and Decepticons, to capture Prime and return him to their home planet; as well as making a deal with a very scrupulous inventor (Stanley Tucci, “Captain America: The First Avenger”) to take the materials from the deceased transformers and make a new series of Transformers under government control. However, when its revealed that something of the Decepticon Leader Megatron had survived from the previous film and had now been incorporated into their new creation called Galvatron (voiced by Frank Welker; the original voice of Megatron in the classic animated series), it becomes self-aware and leads the new transformers to finish what they had started: destroying all Autobots and colonizing and destroying the planet.
While the film continues what had been established in the earlier films as far as spectacular action, good visual effects, and the basic caring about our heroes, what lacks is the feeling of continuation and explanation of what had happened to our heroes of the previous trilogy. No real explanation is given to what had happened to the characters played by Shia LeBouf, Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson. Also what was meant to be new and exciting for fans of the series, had just been a simple retread of what had been done earlier; with nothing really new to offer for the fans.
The two bright points in this film go to the new actors in the movie, as well as a reunion of two legendary voice actors. Mark Wahlberg’s performance as a single father, raising a teenage daughter while searching for ways to help save his farmland was a much better hero than Sam (Shia Lebouf). Based upon his own experiences of being a father himself, really helped him in this role. Kelsey Grammer, known for only his work in comedy, showed that he can have a devious side; playing the head of a government faction bent on doing whatever it will take to eliminate this alien threat, and Stanley Tucci does what he can do best in any film that he’s in, give that little touch of humor to an almost tense and dramatic situation.
The other bright point that might not get noticed by the fans is that it brings together Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, the original voice actors from the animated series. This film marks the first time that they have provided the voices for Optimus Prime and Galvatron since the 1986 animated movie. Both are so well known for their voice work, that it was great to hear them on screen as these characters again.
Despite these points, and the fact that the much hyped appearance of the Dinobots was only in the final 30 minutes of the movie, it fails to deliver on bringing that elusive new element to the story. If fans were critical of the previous flims, I can guess that they will be not too pleased with this movie.
Rating: 2.5 of 5