By Joseph Saulnier

Honest truth: when Age of Extinction was announced, my first thought was they are beating a dead horse.  The first film was actually pretty good, in my opinion.  The second (Revenge of the Fallen)… well, the world could have done without that one.  And the third one (Dark of the Moon), while better than Fallen, still seemed like a last desperate attempt to keep the franchise alive.  So it actually surprised me, though not much, that Age of Extinction was announced.

My biggest issue with the first three movies was that it was that the action scenes were so difficult to track.  With the Autobots and Decepticons looking so much alike in the midst of battle, it was really difficult to keep track of who was who.  They tried to make the mechanics of the alien life forms so intricate, that it became distracting and left them devoid of any super-defining characteristics.  That and the lack of any real substance to the Fallen (and arguably the first and third movie), it just made them hard to enjoy.  That being said, I do own all three films.  Go figure.

Now flash forward to Age of Extinction.  It has been some years since the battle of Chicago that culminated in Dark of the Moon.  America, and the world, have basically ended their alliance with the Autobots, and are also hunting down the Decepticons after they have scattered. A highly trained section of the CIA, known as Cemetery Wind, is in charge of hunting them down, but it quickly becomes apparent that they have ulterior motives.

We have shed ourselves of the Witwicky family as our human counterparts to the Autobots this time, and instead we bring in the Yeager family.  Cade (Mark Wahlberg) is an engineer and inventor trying to make a living buying old machines, rebuilding them and selling them, or parting them out.  All of this in an effort to provide for his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and provide her with the life she deserves.  Also part of this rag-tag group is Cade’s friend, and employee, Lucas Flannery (T.J. Miller) who provides some great comic relief through the establishment of the story line.  With a great supporting cast that includes Kelsey Grammer, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Titus Welliver, Sophia Myles and Thomas Lennon, this movie had so much going for it in talent.

It’s really too bad that it was wasted.  With more action than dialogue, the movie really suffers from not taking advantage of a cast that could have really added some fiber to a franchise that still has the potential to be great, instead of just good.  The story and direction of the movie was excellent, and a really well thought out way to keep the franchise going, but the lack of solid dialogue keeps it in the run-and-gun category.

Getting back to the meat of the movie, Cade finds an old truck and takes it back to his workshop/barn.  He intends to part it out and make some money, but he soon finds out that there is more to the truck than meets the eye.  Once the CIA gets wind of this, they pay a visit to the Yeager property to retrieve the truck, but problems ensue and the Yeagers soon find themselves on the run with none other than Optimus Prime.  It is up to the Yeagers, and what remains of the Autobots, to discover and thwart the plans of the rogue head of Cemetery Wind, Harold Attinger (Grammer).

Earlier I said my biggest issue was the action of the first three movies and the ability to decipher what was actually happening.  Well, apparently I was not the only one who thought this, and they actually listened to fans, because I did not have that issue with Age of Extinction.  I could tell who was who during each of the action scenes, and having a star like

Mark Wahlberg helped add a more human element to it.  The fights were clean, riveting, and have a whole new dynamic to them then in the previous movies.

While there was not a whole lot of dialogue throughout this nearly 3-hour movie (yes… it’s almost 3 hours long), the dialogue that was there was enjoyable.  Some great quipy comments from the Autobots, and the interaction between Wahlberg and Reynor, while a little corny and stereotypical, was actually charming and humorous.  But again, definitely could have used more.

Also… there were three endings to the movie.  I saw two different points where they could have ended it, but continued to tell more story before settling on its actual ending point.  The scenes that took place after the two endings fit, and definitely kept you interested, but they could also have fit as part of another story and future movies.  However, the ending they did go with, it is very clear that they intend to make more movies that feature the Yeager family with the Autobots.  Hopefully we will get to see more Transformers, including the more obscure ones like Ultra Magnus and the Wreckers.  There is actually some good footwork laid Age of Extinction to pave way for this cast of characters.

Ultimately… if you are a Transformers fan, you will enjoy this film.  If you are not, well… it can still be enjoyable.  It is without a doubt an action film, and the producers are unabashed about it.  Shot entirely in IMAX 3D cameras, the visuals are stunning.  And this time around they went with an Imagine Dragons heavy soundtrack (no complaints here).  Definitely worth checking it out in theaters for these two reasons alone.  But the question I always ask: will I pick it up when it is released on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital?  More than likely, especially since I own the first 3.


3.5 stars out of 5

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