There were a bunch of things that tried to deter me from seeing this movie. The critical consensus for the film seemed to be that the phrase "age of extinction" should apply to the series, not the movie. I hadn't seen the second and third installments, and thus I thought I'd be unaware of a number of important plot points that would significantly hinder my comprehension. The new film is also the first of the series without beloved actor Shia LeBeouf, and a TRANSFORMERS film without Shia LeBeouf is like a BOURNE movie without Jason Bourne. The running time of the movie is over two and a half hours, which is a length usually reserved for Oscar contenders and the first half of films set in Middle Earth. Despite all of this, I decided to see it anyway.
There was a lot wrong with this movie. That was a given. The worst thing about the movie was the plot, but not in the way you'd expect. Usually action movies don't bother with a plot. This was not the case for AGE OF EXTINCTION; the issue was that there were an exorbitant number of "half-plots". The movie managed to touch on the plot of every single action/thriller movie released in the past fifteen years. As I list every half-plot of the movie, be warned that there will be definite spoilers, but let's face it, if you are going to see this movie, it's not for the plot.
- Man barely scraping by in life (Marky Mark) finds an opportunity to become great, and succeeds
- A discovery is made is about the prehistoric past that somehow affects today's world
- A crew must break into a top-secret lab to get their hands on important information
- Man's daughter is taken from him and he will do anything to get her back
- Tragedy strikes a major city and a man will do anything to protect his family
- Cocky CEO (Stanley Tucci) mass-produces new technology he doesn't understand; it rises up against humanity
- Unlikely partners need to work together to get a powerful bomb out of a major city
- A major city is crippled and devastated by a battle involving aliens
- A villain has a change of heart towards the end and helps the good guys come out on top
- A corrupt, powerful CIA member (Kelsey Grammer) works with sinister powers beyond his control
- Protective father meets daughter's bad boy boyfriend but after some hijinks accepts him
The film seriously has every possible plot that isn't buddy cop-related. But it has other issues too, but most of them are issues with the TRANSFORMERS film series in general: the dialogue is not great, the films seem to be getting longer and longer, the good guys never seem to get hit by anything, etc. This film in particular sees the loss of zero Autobots and the only good guy human character that dies is a random comic relief character towards the beginning. His death is forgotten within ten minutes of screen time.
Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed this movie. I didn't have to think about anything, the action and special effects were absolutely top notch, and Mark Wahlberg is always great to watch. The hot female lead, his daughter (Nicola Peltz), manages to out-act the two previous eye-candy actresses (Megan Fox and her replacement Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the George Lazenby of the Transformers Universe), which I suppose isn't saying much.
The greatest part of the film is obviously the appearance of the Dinobots. The teenagers who seemed to make up 90% of the theater I was in loved them (I could tell by their hoots and hollers). Optimus Prime refers to them (before we know they're dinobots) as "legendary knights", and it's only after one of them tries to fight Optimus Prime that you release HOLY SHIT THEY'RE DINOSAUR TRANSFORMERS. The image of Optimus Prime wielding a sword while riding a space T-Rex will probably go down as one of the most iconic images in dudefest cinematic history, and may even be more patriotic than the famous image of Abraham Lincoln riding a bear.
In terms of the film series a whole, we find out that the Transformers were actually created by a group cleverly referred to as the Creators, and the film ends on a there's-probably-going-to-be-a-bunch-of-sequels note, when Optimus Prime blast off into space, saying that he's going to destroy the Creators. That, combined with the fact that Wahlberg is signed on for a trilogy and Bay has shown us that he's totally willing to replace the entire human cast of the film, makes me think that there'll still be TRANSFORMERS movies coming out long after George R.R. Martin releases the seventh A Song Of Fire And Ice book.
Lastly, whenever I go to Regal Cinemas, I order a large soda (54oz) and large popcorn (170oz) and see how far I can make it through each one. Due to T:AOE's length and volume (chewing popcorn is often not ideal during quiet moments of slower films), I was able to finish both without assistance. My stats:
Flavor: Barq's Root Beer