Transformers: Age of Extinction is now out on 3D Blu-ray, as well as vanilla 2D Blu-ray, and the film is so-called because it involves the dinosaurs and, as the film begins, we see them being wiped out, circa 65 million BC, but this time it’s because an asteroid has hit the Earth and they’ve all been frozen in time with a metal relating to our robot friends and enemies, and that’s what preserved their structure for mankind to find in the future and for Steven Spielberg to make a film about this in 1993 (which could be the reason why he has a hand in this production).
Fast-forward to the present day and we have Mark Wahlberg as the ridiculously-named Cade Yeager – although, quite frankly, I watched the entire film not knowing the identities of the majority of the characters and it didn’t matter one jot. However, I can only assume that writer Ehren Kruger worked most of them out by drawing letters at random from a Scrabble bag.
Anyhoo, Cade isn’t making any money from all the junk in his barn, but is constantly looking for something that will. One day he chances upon a rusty, beat-up truck that’s well past its best and is his for a snap at $150. Well, his friend and business partner Lucas Flannery (T.J. Miller) ponies up the dough, but it turns out to be worth the while when the truck isn’t just a Transformer, but Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) himself. Lucas’ only other use in this film is basically to be Shaggy to the lead’s Fred, which shows how much personality Cade displays.
Optimus has been hiding ever since the Battle of Chicago took place five years ago (in film years, or three in our years), which resulted in all the good robots being seen as bad, hence why early on we see their ‘faces’ printed on playing cards, rather like Saddam Hussein and the like in the Iraq conflict. I knew nothing about these events, since after watching the first film on HD-DVD, I had no interest in seeing any further films in the series. In fact, watching five minutes of the second one, Revenge of the Fallen, didn’t inspire me to see this on the big screen either, but I’m kinda glad I did since it really is the only to watch them – they just won’t have the same impact on a smaller screen.
Cade has managed one good thing in his life, namely his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), this sequel’s resident hottie, and someone who frequently seems to have forgotten her trousers. Naturally, the wayward teenager has a boyfriend who’s too old for her, Shane (Jack Reynor), but while Cade hates him with a passion from the start, you know they’ll eventually warm to each other, but surely she’s allowed something good in her life because she has a dead mom, so her tale of woe is set out early on. Unsurprisingly, a picture of Cade and his late wife, taken almost 20 years earlier, shows him looking no different.
Stanley Tucci plays big business boss Joshua Joyce, and you know he means business because he’s sarcastic and he shouts a lot. Along the way, he’s discovered a new kind of metal called Transformium, which basically allows him to build his own Transformers. This is a neat idea but one that doesn’t get used half as much as it should. However, it does allow him to create a bigger robot baddie called Galvatron, who even has his own spaceship, which has a nice line in hoovering up cars, ships and other robots and then dumping them somewhere else, like a tornado, right in the path of our heroes, causing danger. Naturally, Bay doesn’t use this effect just once, but about 50 times in the last hour. No wonder the film goes on so long.
Kelsey Grammer is more of a bad guy, though, as Harold Attinger, as he has a hand in this Galvatron business, too, or so I gathered. Transformers: Age of Extinction had such a lack of continuity that in one scene, it felt like one minute our heroes were all up in a spaceship which belonged to Galvatron, then they were back on the ground. Unless I blacked out for a moment from being bombarded, since this is the most relentless, in-your-face film I’ve ever seen.
Attinger’s main henchman is James Savoy, played by the brilliantly-named Titus Welliver. If you can’t place the name, then just imagine him as the man you hire when you can’t get hold of Tom Sizemore, or can but want a slightly slimmer version. He has a rather engaging fight scene with Wahlberg on the outside of a building, late on in the film.
Special mention must go to James Bachman as Tucci’s main science boffin, Gill Wembley. I first saw Bachman in all three series of the CBBC sketch show Sorry I’ve Got No Head, a show which has a great cast and which drew me to it, with names from regular telly such as Marcus Brigstocke and Anna Crilly where they each have particular sketches where they are given the chance to shine, and one of them in Bachman’s case can be summed up simply with “£1000?!” See below for one of my favourite sketches.
Please, Michael Bay, make sure you get Gill Wembley back for Transformers 5. And if, as it’s rumoured, you’re not directing the fifth installment, then you’ll no doubt still be in control of the project in another way, so can ensure James Bachman returns. His comic timing is perfect and he deserves a bigger role. Every time he appeared I cracked up before he even spoke!
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film.
Somehow, Transformers: Age of Extinction was blessed with a scriptwriter. I’m not sure why. Perhaps he just set out a few cue cards from which Bay could draw inspriation to blow shit up. The dialogue is mostly quite bland, such as when Shane explains to Cade, as their mutual interest is kidnapped by Gaviscon, “I’m not helping you to rescue your daughter, you’re helping me to rescue my girlfriend.”
However, you go for the visuals and there is plenty to lap up. Although the main widescreen aspect ratio for this film is 2.35:1, Michael Bay deserves the credit for not only making a film for an IMAX screen which actually uses IMAX cameras, but also because these seemed to be used for the majority of the 165-minute running time, and do you can’t argue that you didn’t get your money’s worth. In ye olden times, the IMAX ratio would open up to 1.44:1, but currently this is only possible on film stock which is almost depleted. Add to this, the fact that most film-makers, like Bay, are opting for shooting digitally anyway, and that has a maximum ratio of around 1.90:1, so somewhere inbetween 2.35:1 and what we used to get with 1.44:1.
When I saw this film in the cinema, I felt it was a great shame that the end seemed to be almost nigh for 1.44:1, especially since I only got into watching IMAX films late on, in 2012, with Prometheus which was 1.90:1 throughout, with some scenes opened-up and some shots cropped depending on the effect required; and The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, both of which did open up to 1.44:1 at times (the latter moreso), but while Spidey was 2.35:1 throughout on Blu-ray, Christopher Nolan’s third Batman escapade, like the second one, could only open up to 16:9 on the Blu-ray (well, they could’ve gone for a pillarboxed effect to show the whole image, but it would’ve lost the effect of what was onscreen).
Due to the film stock issue, I also said at the time of this film’s cinema release that fans of 1.44:1 should note that Nolan’s latest opus, Interstellar, was most likely be the last film to utilise this IMAX ratio. Ever. And that saddened me.
However, since then there’s been a change, since Laser IMAX is on its way, in due course. Might be a year before we get it, but when we do, we can expect 1.44:1 IMAX ratio films again! Hurrah!
Other random thoughts about Transformers: Age of Extinction:
- Nicola Peltz is the hottie in the film but let’s not forget her role as a bratty teenager in the stellar film The Last Airbender. Or rather, DO forget it!
- How come the powers that be can learn a lot from the confiscated head of Megatron when all of their memories are in their lifeforce, which is where the heart normally goes?
- I have a bad cough, which can be problematic at times. Not so during Transformers: Age of Extinction, as it’s almost non-stop loud all the time, so such an issue is easily masked by the explosions.
- This film was not released on a Friday, as you’d expect, but a Saturday, which meant that it wouldn’t make that week’s charts, but would actually have a 9-day “weekend” in terms of box office, and so would easily make No.1 the following week. And it did. This made me wonder if the studio were so unsure it’d get to No.1 on its own merit by conventional means that they have to cheat by getting almost two full weekends out of it. Bad Neighbours (aka Neighbors) also did that recently. I wonder if this is the start of a trend. I do hope not.
Like I said, the film goes on way too long. It’s like Michael Bay wants to give us the “Final Extended Director’s Cut” upfront. It could easily chop out 30 minutes or so and, as such, I actually felt drained when I left the theatre. However, I saw this film rather late in its cinema run, and it’ll most likely leave the IMAX screen for good once Thursday comes round and it’s replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy, but if you can catch it before then, I’d recommend it on a technical level, at least. I can still remember seeing Gaviscon shouting close-up at the screen for no apparent reason, and the level of detail on display in the IMAX shot was wonderful.
All that said, I thought I’d seen Gravity on one of its last IMAX airings before The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug took its turn to dominate, and Gravity still returned later. Then again, that was due to its Oscar-worthyness, something which didn’t happen with this film.
Go to page 3 for a look at the presentation and the extras.
When it comes to the presentation of this film, I expected both the 3D Blu-ray and 2D Blu-ray versions to retain the IMAX ratio for the 1.90:1 scenes shot in that format, but only the 3D version does. Shame for the 2D version, which is 2.35:1 throughout, but at least the better of the two versions can be seen in all its full glory. The discs are in 1080p high definition and are pin-sharp throughout and looking absolutely stunning. You can be confident that you won’t be disappointed in this purchase.
The sound is presented in Dolby Atmos for this who have such technical ability, but I watched it in DTS 5.1 and the crash/bang/wallop is all over the show, giving your speakers a great workout, so Paramount have done a fantastic job with this transfer.
The extras are as follows and they’re all on disc 3 and in HD:
- Bay on action (10:45): Michael Bay on how he directs the action scenes and how he’s learned more as he’s gone on. There’s a ridiculous amount of cutting and frame-changing simply when Bay is talking. He doesn’t even seem competent of completing a full sentence in one go! The action shots are good, but at no point does he explain why he’s takes 165 minutes to tell the whole story.
- Evolution within Extinction (2:02:50): Effectively a multi-part feature looking at all manner of aspects of the film: The new ‘generation’ of Transformers characters (Wahlberg, Peltz et al, replacing those people from the first three) as well as the new Transformers themselves; then there’s the cars; shooting in a small town for a big film; shooting on location throughout the whole film;
and then sort-of doing the opposite by bringing Hong Kong to Detroit; the dinobots; and a section on other bits and pieces including editing and a look at Transformium.
- Just Another Giant Effin’ Movie (10:03): After giving us the revelation that Michael Bay’s mum, Harriet, has never seen any of the Transformers films, we then see a lot of explosions followed by clips of the crew messing about, so it looks like they had a lot of fun making it.
- A Spark of Design (15:24): A look at the Hasbro HQ, showing designs for the Transformers and also the staff who work there.
- T.J. Miller: Farm Hippie (19:43): The actor, who played Wahlberg’s friend Lucas, drops in on Wahlberg at home, then at Bay’s office, then dropping in on Kelsey Grammer and… erm… Optimus Prime. Sort-of. All of it’s done in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, and the subtitle of this segment is revealed towards the end.
- Trailers: Two for the film (2:28 apiece, the second of which is a better all-rounder), one for the KRE-O Transformers taking us through the series (3:42) and also one for Angry Birds Transformers: Origin Story (1:16).
- Audio Description: Does what it says on the tin.
The menu is in 3D or 2D depending on the disc you’re watching, and shows a brief 30-second clip of the film where Optimus Prime finds what he’s looking for and says, “Hello, Mama!”. As for chapters, Paramount go for a slightly odd number of 22, but as the film runs for 165 minutes, I think it could use some more, as I work on the rule of thumb of one every five minutes.
Dialogue comes in five languages – English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, while subtitles are available in 10 flavours: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish.
Yes, Transformers: Age of Extinction is a daft film, but overall, if you have a great sound-setup at home and can view this in 3D, it’s a must-buy.
Running time: 165 minutes
Studio: Paramount Home Video
Released: November 17th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: Dolby Atmos (English only), Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish
Widescreen: 1.90:1 (IMAX 3-D version: some scenes); 2.35:1 (Redcode RAW (6K))
Disc Format: 3*BD50
Director: Michael Bay
Producers: Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Don Murphy
Screenplay: Ehren Kruger
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Cade Yeager: Mark Wahlberg
Tessa Yeager: Nicola Peltz
Joshua Joyce: Stanley Tucci
Harold Attinger: Kelsey Grammer
James Savoy: Titus Welliver
Shane Dyson: Jack Reynor
Darcy Tirrel: Sophia Myles
Su Yueming: Bingbing Li
Lucas Flannery: T.J. Miller
Gill Wembley: James Bachman
Chief of Staff: Thomas Lennon
Wembley’s Associate: Kassem Gharaibeh
Optimus Prime: Peter Cullen
Galvatron: Frank Welker
Hound: John Goodman
Drift: Ken Watanabe
Ratchet: Robert Foxworth
Crosshairs: John DiMaggio
Lockdown: Mark Ryan
Brains: Reno Wilson
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.