Saturday, June 27, 2015

Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction

Once upon a time, when I just a wee little Jimbo I loved a toy line/cartoon named Transformers. They were brand new and transformable robots were a new craze. That's right. I'm so old, I remember Transformers, G1. Optimus Prime was the big tough good guy. Megatron was his arch-nemesis and actually transformed into >GASP< a gun!. Ironhide, Starscream, Soundwave (when he was still a boombox), Bumblebee, Scout, I could go on for hours. This was before such newfangled craziness as the introduction of Rodimus Prime or Ultra Magnus. Nobody knew who Blur was because he hadn't been invented yet. Ironhide was simultaneously the best character on the cartoon and the dumbest toy ever made. Seriously, whoever heard of a humanoid robot with no FREAKING HEAD?!?!?!?!? But eventually time went on. I got involved with other geekish pursuits (Star Trek, Star Wars, RPGs and books. Lots and lots of books.) Some of the iterations of the toys/cartoons just got weird. Then awhile later, they started releasing live action Transformers movies, the latest being Transformers: Age of Extinction.

I went into the movie knowing what to expect,. I mean, this is Michael Bay and Transformers right? I got what I was looking for too. Say what you want about Michael Bay and his story telling ability (I'll get to that later)  but nobody does explosions as well as he does. Yes, I've seen and loved every Star Wars and Star Trek movie (Yes, even number one. I was the only person in the theater opening night that liked Jar Jar Binks and was over the age of twelve.) but Michael Bay can do a fight scene better than anyone who has directed in either series of movies. Things go boom. They go hack and slice. Someone lives. Someone dies. It all starts over.

I don't want to spoil too much, but I kind of have to here. If you don't want to see it skip the rest of this paragraph. The new, human made, Transformers and their method of transforming on screen is just awesome. The new "transformium" alloy that scientist Joshua Joyce discovers makes some really cool looking things possible. Watching a Transformer transform not just by moving one part over this way and one part over but by basically disappearing into a cloud and reforming out of nothing was down right awesome. I won't say that it seemed all that plausible, but let's face it. This is Transformers; When you're dealing with a Mack truck that can turn into a thirty foot robot and talk you're not starting from a very plausible place to begin with.  That much being said, I'm going to take this someplace a lot of younger folk may not like.

I have, since the 2007 movie Transformers had an intense dislike of the look of these robots in these movies. Talking about this in public makes me feel like I should tell a bunch of kids to get off my lawn and then drink a Geritol but I remember when the robots looked like robots. I am not at all a fan of the new "organic" look. They're not organic, they're freaking metal. I could see something more contoured. Cars don't look as boxy as they did in 1984 anymore. I'm not good with this whole wires hanging everywhere thing. I'm organic. Do you see veins hanging out of my arms? The spaceship has the same kind of look to it and it's not even a living thing. I could see an organic look if it was necessary to the story. The Invid Clamships from Robotech: New Generation come to mind. For <i>Transformers</i> though? Not so much.

The story here is only kind of okay-ish. I will give Michael Bay this much though; At least he doesn't treat his audience as if they're too stupid to realize that Megan Fox is attractive this time. I wonder if they gave him a high school aged character this time specifically to prevent him from doing that again. The whole father versus boyfriend angle is one that I can kind of feel from both sides being a father of three girls and having not spent my entire life devoid of female companionship. The eventual friendship between father and boyfriend was pretty much inevitable given the plot and the characters do develop a bit over time but it's just too disjointed. We're here we're there we're everywhere. The US government is trying to destroy the Autobots to get a seed and the president doesn't know about it? Umm, no. I get scientists and obsession but there is such a thing as going too far. I can't buy that. And where did the Dinobots get involved?

As far as the Dinobots go, I've been a fan for as long as they existed. Grimlock was an utter badass back in the day.  Swoop provided the air cover, etc. But, unless there was something important that I missed somehow, there was no connection between them and the Autobots/Optimus Prime until Prime showed up like "Follow me or we all die." That sounds like good advice but what reason did they have to believe him? There was no prior relationship established. I get that the movie was almost three hours long but come on. If you can't fit in it, don't put it in. The writers and Bay could have found another way for the good guys to win.

That much being said, this was what I expected. If you want to have fun and not put too much thought into what you're watching, Transformers is a good franchise. It makes no attempt at imitating actual scientific principles or advancing anything that may someday be possible. It's not always all that internally consistent. But things blow up. Chase scenes happen. There is a surprise or two along the way. Explosions happen and the bad guys always get their tails whipped. The quality of this one depends on what you're looking for in your story telling.

Bottom Line: 3.75 out of 5 Hanging wires

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Paramount, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction can be purchased here:

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