Transformers: Age of Extinction 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 (and his impossible upper arms) 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. Kelsey Grammer is more of a bad guy, though, as Harold Attinger, as he’s in league with Lockdown, a bigger robot baddie 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. Attinger’s aim, and, hence, the other reason for the film’s title, is to make the Autobots extinct, since he’s got such a bee in his bonnet about Chicago from film No.3.
Meanwhile, Joyce’s other ace up his sleeve is Galvatron – created from the captured head of Megatron – a new robot which he’ll also use to wipe out the Autobots. I originally had some of the specifics in these two paragraphs totally arse-about-tit, as 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 Lockdown, 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.
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.