Transformers: Age of Extinction follows Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) as he gets caught in tensions between the Autobots, Decepticons, and the CIA. If that sounds like the original Transformers movie…that’s because it is. In fact, most of Age of Extinction’s 165 minute running time is devoted to striking emotional notes the audience is familiar with, and then striking them over again.
There is some good here. As popcorn flicks go, Age of Extinction isn’t the worst. It delivers lots of explosions and decent special effects. As the human protagonist, Wahlberg is easily more likeable than Shia LaBeouf. The men in the audience get decent eye candy in the form of Nicola Peltz, Sophia Myles, and Li BingBing. For the ladies, there is Wahlberg, the quintessential buff everyman, and the more exotic Jack Reynor. Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci are in rare scene-chewing form as the human villains. There is more action, and human death is shown rather than hinted. The dinobots are bad ass, but serve only as random autobot reinforcements late in the movie. It’s too bad the screenwriter and Bay couldn’t agree on two villains, rather than three or four.
There’s no need to get into the finer details of the plot, Transformers movies work best when you don’t think. That’s doubly true for this installment. Unfortunately, Bay seems determined to make you think. About the implications of human greed. About what the government can do with impunity. About how easy people are to manipulate. About everything. The trouble is, Bay served up a movie with too many plot holes, too much self-indulgence, and too much hype. If you can manage to keep your eyes on everything shiny about Transformers: Age of Extinction, you will have a good time. For everyone else, this isn’t more here than meets the eye. I give Transformers: Age of Extinction a two out of five.