I know there are several Transformers who were a bit leery at seeing another Michael Bay direction of our beloved characters. Let me just say this: he seems to have listened. Scary, I know. But Mr. Bay appears to have taken fans into account for this fourth installment. I’m not saying he has done this fully; however, more attention has been paid. Don’t look for street talking, rap star wanna-be robots or mini-cons leg humping the cute girl. Nope, we got an interesting combination of action and heart with this film. The heart stems from how the events over the five years since the third film (even though Dark of the Moon was only couple years ago) have changed Optimus Prime from the loving, compassionate, sentient being we all know and love into a hardened, distrusting machine. These same events have also made the remaining Autobots have harsh feelings for mankind. And through the course of the film they struggle to reconnect with humans in the midst of fighting for their survival.
Mark Wahlberg is provides a strong lead character, something that was not present in the previous three films. Wahlberg portrays Cade Yeager, a single father who is an inventor struggling to raise his teenage daughter. Mark takes charge when the stuff hits the fan and immediately takes the fight to the enemy. He even uses Cybertronian weaponry to aid in the fight. Like any single dad, making sure your little girl is safe is difficult. Their father/daughter banter keeps the humor light and engaging and the relationship is relatable minus the constant head ducking under gunfire. This is a serious step up from Shia LeBeouf’s constantly frantic Sam Witwicky running and screaming for his life. You can’t be a lead role if you can’t lead. Sorry, Shia. Kelsey Grammer has played an evil clown on the “Simpsons” for a number of years. Here, he plays a very good bad guy. I haven’t seen Grammer play a villain role before but he makes it work for him.
Now let’s get to the action. As always with Bay, the explosions go over the top along with the action. There are hardly any humans fighting with or against the Transformers save for a few scenes. It’s mostly all robot action and a butt load of property damage. The new Autobots that are introduced have very distinct personalities which entertain more so than offend. They are a ragtag group that Prime must bring together to fight coherently. It was long time coming but finally, we get to see Grimlock and the Dinobots stomp their way into the scene. I recalled memories of their romp around on Quintessa in the original 1986 animated movie and Optimus looked totally awesome riding Grimlock hard into battle.
I was excited to not only hear Peter Cullen voice Optimus Prime but Frank Welker returned to the role of Galvatron whom he voiced in the third season of the original series after Leonard Nimoy assumed the role in the animated film. It was a joy to hear Frank reprise Soundwave in “Dark of the Moon” but that role was not as significant as I had hoped it would be. Sadly, the same happens here. Still, it was sheer joy to finally have Welker and Cullen back behind the roles that made them famous together. Hopefully he’ll have a larger role in the next film (Easter Egg!) Speaking of vocal work, all the Transformers were portrayed nicely. John Goodman is great as Hound, the Autobots’ commando expert whose personality seems to stem from ‘80s military action films. John DiMaggio and Ken Watanabe voice Autobots Crosshairs, paratrooper, and Drift, a former Decepticon. These two are at odds with Bumblebee who was acting as leader during Prime’s absence with Drift being the cooler headed of the two.
Overall, Michael keeps the clichés at bay (saw what I did there) and focus more on the characters, both human and robot. Like I said before, no ghetto trash talking Autobots or leg humping mini-cons or hot cyber-chicks trying to get into Shia’s tightly wound undies. The characters are straightforward. Though there are times where the dialog is childishly laced with light profanity. A few instances are okay but it seemed like a little more than half the lines spoken were taken from teenage movie with an F-bomb being dropped along the way. All honestly, this could have been left out. Parents are bringing their kids to see this. Then again, they’ll be too wrapped in the explosive action sequences that use more pyro than ten Rammstein concerts to even worry about it. Transformers: Age of Extinction has improved over “Dark of the Moon” with a balance of good and bad that make it entertaining enough to almost keep your mind off the extended run time. Whether you agree or disagree, I’ll admit that Michael Bay has delivered a quality Transformers film.
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