Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth installment from the Transformers franchise, carries forward the tradition with all the metal, explosions, toys and the “make you go weak in the knees” cars. The last chapter in the series had the Autobots (Good Guys) fight the Decepticons (Bad Guys) ending with the death of Decepticon leader Megatron. It’s been some time now after the game changing fight in Chicago, and the story starts with the Yeager family. Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is a mechanic and garage inventor with a 17 year old daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). He builds small machines and repairs stuff to make ends meet, until everything changes when he stumbles upon the dormant Autobot leader Optimus Prime.
The movie starts on a subtle note with a very District 9 feel, with post war imagery and exploitation of alien technology, building the base of the story. Now the government has been hunting Autobots and Decepticons alike, to get rid of all aliens and take control over the security of humans on the planet, and the Yeagers are now involved and branded as terrorist for associating with aliens and get added to the hit list. This leads to the usual run-hide-fight scenario that is a part of all Transformers movies. But hey!- you aren’t here for the narrative (though it is an improvement over its predecessors). The flick moves away from the original pack of Autobots and adds some new machines that fight along side Optimus and everyone’s favorite Bumblebee. Decepticons are now replaced by a new horde of machines that want both the Autobots and Decepticons killed. There are more alien machines, crazy theories, secrets unveiled and explosions as we move towards the latter half of the movie.
Surprisingly, in what seems like an effort to build a more solid Transformers universe, there’s a large number of new human characters introduced. Mark Wahlberg gives a decent performance, stepping into the shoes of Shia LaBeouf, as the new parallel protagonist (yes, we all know Optimus is the real hero). Nicola Peltz (Bates Motel) plays a not so essential role with mostly damsel-in-distress and doe-eyed-teenager acts accompanied by Jack Reynor (Delivery Man) playing the mostly unnecessary character of her boyfriend. But there is another cluster of actors that includes TJ Miller, Kesley Grammer, Titus Welliver, Stanley Tucci and Li Bingbing, who score a few points with their character portrayal. Though how well these characters are developed is a whole different question. Along with this large cast is a 165 minute long runtime, which is a treat for the fans.
The special effects are something all Transformers movies ride on, and this one certainly tops the crowd. The alien robots have all been redesigned with more slick look and there are also a few new ones (look out for the samurai!). As for the cars, if yellow Camaros or red hot trucks aren’t your thing … they’ve got Lamborghinis and Bugattis on board. Overall, the movie offers a lot of fresh content as far as the technology, machines, weapons or for that matter pet dinosaurs go! But what is interesting is that there is also a more sensible reasoning offered for the occurrence of events and that opens doors to a plethora of characters and stories from the Transformers universe. In a way, this movie is more like a reboot than a sequel, setting up a base for second Transformers trilogy (probably!).
At the end of the day, Transformers may not be at the pinnacle of storytelling, but it’s a neatly packed 3 hours of “all you asked for and more”! So if you are a Transformers fan or just looking for a 3 hour escapade, Transformers: Age of Extinction is definitely a good way to spend your summer afternoon.
Grade: A- / B- (depending on the category of audience that you belong to)