Too much jammed into one movie, but with some improvements

When you think of Michael Bay what do you think?  No I’m not making a joke about him ruining every movie series, but instead explosions, slow running, and unbalanced qualities in a movie.  Years ago the director was able to impress us with his big budget productions of giant robots fighting each other, launching chaotic explosions in an attempt to accomplish a goal, all the while protecting a select few humans.  That trend has continued, and this weekend his latest work Transformers 4, age of extinction releases in an attempt to make up for some of his follies in the last few years.  What is the verdict on this movie?  Read on to find out.


Once again Bay has managed to outdo himself, somehow mistakenly defining balance with cramming as many things into one movie as possible.  The first movie in this new trilogy attempts to explain what has happened over the last four years  while trying to introduce a set of new characters in the process.  Normally this would be fine, except the director attempted to develop a rather poor love story, while developing a darker story for the Autobots, and trying to give equal screen time to robot and human alike.   So many variables are difficult to balance for any director, and I felt it was a challenge too great for this director.  The result is a hodge-podge of half complete aspects that make for a rather rushed and disproportionate movie, when it could be so much simpler and entertaining.


What do I mean by this?  It’s really simple, when I go see a movie about Transformers I want to see a movie about CGI behemoths fighting each other for a goal with all robots having some ample contribution to the battle.  He was able to do this in the first movie, but lately Bay and company have had a fixation on one or two robots (Usually Optimus and Bumblebee) or showing humans running from the aliens while attempting to lighten the situation with a flood of jokes and offset comedy.  Sure comedy is a good thing, but I didn’t sign up for nearly three hours of  Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci making fools of themselves.  Yes they were a huge improvement from the previous cast, but again I came for the robots, not the humans.  However, it is not all bad, as Bay has improved on the action substantially mixing a blend of high speed chases, city wide shoot outs, and loud melee’s that shake the theater.  What helps is that editing has improved their ability to differentiate robots, creating combatants with individual qualities that help them stand out, while also keeping camera work decently stable.


Unfortunately not every Autobot has an equal role in the combat, with Bay once again favoring one or two autobots despite having five available.  Fans of Bumblebee will love the cute little robot’s scenes, but they have redesigned him and with a bit of an attitude, developing a darker edge like the rest of his compadres, and getting half his normal screen time.  Optimus and newcomer Hound, voiced by John Goodman, the latter of which spouts out jokes and orders while wrecking his way through hordes of enemy robots.  Their actions scenes were great, but I ask Bay again, why not take a lesson from the Avengers and actually show all your heroes fighting, instead of just one or two.  This is especially true for the Dinobots, whose announcement at the Super Bowl trailer had fans screaming in delight.  While their designs are epic these beasts do not appear until near the end, and most of them don’t really do much other than run into buildings.  What was the point of even bringing them in this installment then if you weren’t going to do much with them?  I guess that happens when you stuff too many things into one movie huh?


As for the story, well it’s an improvement over the last two installments, with a much darker twist and suspenseful tone.  No one is safe in the high hostility world, as there are many disturbing treatments to a world that was lighthearted.  Optimus, as well as the other Autobots, are no longer the embodiment of good guys who praise justice and equality, but are more like mercenaries doing what they have to do.  To offset this darker tone, is the lighter human story whose characters are hastily developed into generic, carbon copy comedians and tight clothed eye candy.  Both stories were hastily developed, leaving lots of plot gaps, stretches of the imagination, and lackluster emotion that was incredibly humorous.  Yet there were some plot twists put into the mold that non comic book readers will enjoy, most of which set the stage for the next movie that is sure to come.  I rather enjoyed the direction, but am unsure of where Bay will go next with the choices he made in this film.


There is a lot more to talk about in this film, but I’m running out of room.  All in all TF4 is a blockbuster smash whose editing and special effects are meant for the big screen.  While it is a menagerie of various movie qualities, both well and badly done, I enjoyed it more than I did some of its predecessors.  Fans of the series will most likely enjoy it, and will get their laughs from cheesy dialog and over the top advertising found in the film, as chaos and firework explosions erupt on the scene.  I think it’s worth a trip to the theater in my opinion and definitely worth a shot in 3-D if you have a chance to do it, though I believe there are other movies coming out that will be better use of your time and money.


My scores are:


Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi:  7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0


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