Director Michael Bay just can’t seem to keep these movies under two and a half hours, and it once again becomes a problem for the latest “Transformers.”
The fourth installment, called “Age of Extinction,” follows Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg. Cade is a struggling, down on his luck inventor who is also an overprotective father to his daughter Tessa, played by Nicola Peltz. Meanwhile, the good natured Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, are being hunted by the government for being too dangerous.
Eventually, Cade, Tessa and Tessa’s boyfriend Shane, played by Jack Reynor, come in contact with Prime and are forced into an adventure in which they are chased by an evil Decepticon bounty hunter and the government.
If that had been the extent of the story, this movie might have been able to work. The problems start as the story starts piling more and more subplots on. There’s a story thread about corporate espionage, the return of an old villain, and even a “Transformers” take on Arthurian legend.
Note to Bay, taking a bunch of story ideas and slamming them all together doesn’t make a good, complex plot, it makes a mess. The movie is so filled to the brim with villains and various plot lines and it doesn’t bring them all together in a good, coherent fashion.
The biggest problem in this installment is the same one both the second and third film dealt with — not enough time with the robots and too much time with the humans.
The characters Tessa and Shane were only added for some drama and humor that comes with Cade’s disapproving attitude. It’s so unnecessary in a movie called “Transformers” and it could have been easily cut from the film. Not only are these characters pointless, but the performances don’t add anything either.
Peltz couldn’t deliver a good performance in 2010’s “Last Airbender” and doesn’t here, either. Dyson isn’t much better, holding very little screen presence when he’s in a scene. Making matters worse, the two have very little chemistry.
Mark Wahlberg replaces Shia LaBeouf, and is a welcome addition. Whalberg as an actor does at least bring some charisma and makes for a good leading protagonist.
The issue with Wahlberg’s character, Cade, is that his skills are wasted. Cade is an inventor/engineer, and yet barely gets to put it to good use later in the film.
One can look at “Iron Man” and see how to do it right, with the main character Tony Stark putting his skills to work multiple times in the movies making cool weapons and gadgets.
It would have been neat if Wahlberg reverse-engineered some Autobot weapons or built cool gadgets the good robots could have used.
Speaking of the Autobots, they are once again left out in the cold when it comes to development.
Instead of having any sort of development to make these robots characters, they are instead just caricatures known only by their silly accents. This movie should be about the robots, since it’s called “Transformers,” and yet they take a back seat in terms of character arcs to the humans.
The Autobots are once again unmemorable and most of them will be replaced for the inevitable fifth film. All except for Bumblebee, who for some reason still can’t talk even though he was able to talk at the end of the first movie, and Optimus Prime.
As for the villains, there are just so many that the movie becomes over saturated. The bounty hunter, named Lockdown and voice acted by Mark Ryan, was a good antagonist in theory, but he just shares too much screen time with other bad guys.
The action in the movie does work at certain points. There were some nice chase scenes, and Optimus has some cool looking fights, but there is nothing that was particularly memorable. The film did feature the Dinobots from the original animated series, which was cool to see in live action, and their battle scene is probably the best when it comes to action, but they are only in the film for 10 minutes.
Even the action has its shortfalls, though, mainly from it being unmemorable. Thinking back to other summer blockbusters this year, “Godzilla,” “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Captain America: Winter Soldier” all had more memorable action sequences. It’s mainly from the action scenes in this flick being for the most part similar to the first three, and by now the novelty has worn off.
Bay’s fourth installment does have some improvements over the previous entries. LaBeouf’s constant annoying yelling, John Turturro’s humor, the dumb parent characters are all thankfully removed.
Yet there are still problems, the runtime is too long at 165 minutes, there are too many plot threads going on, the characters have poor development and the action isn’t even the best an audience has seen this summer. Wahlberg’s screen presence and some of the good action scenes give the movie some credit. But this is still poor overall. 1 out of 5.