Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
June 27, 2014 9:38 AM - Subscribe

An automobile mechanic and his daughter make a discovery that brings down the Autobots - and a paranoid government official - on them.
posted by mathowie (33 comments total)
God, what a big hot mess this movie was. First off, the opening 10min were incredibly poorly edited, as autobot cars would be shown driving across a dirt field then suddenly cut to them on a freeway. The first couple appearances by autobots featured them running as robots, disappearing behind on-screen objects, you'd hear a transformation, then they'd spit out the other side of it as a car. I thought that was a cheeky thing to do and feared they were cutting costs (claims are that the film cost $165M-200M to make which seems cheap for how much CG there is in it).

The story is clumsy and dumb throughout, and totally pointlessly 2 hours and 45 minutes long. I actually heard audible groans from the audience in later scenes and people around me realized "this isn't over yet, c'mon!" The big evil government vs. the little guy is a well-worn tale as is the overprotective father with the hot daughter (straight up copy of Armageddon). There are scenes that make no sense and battle sequences that go on forever. It ends with a setup so obviously "well this battle is over for now but will continue for sure soon WINK WINK" I'm surprised it didn't just say "Transformers 5, coming soon in two years" before the credits rolled.

Overall, I'm surprised at how costly it must be to do all those amazing graphics that this would go even one minute over 90min long. It's excruciating to sit through a movie that is so long and says so little. I like big, dumb popcorn movies like Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and most comic book movies but I hated this.
posted by mathowie at 10:23 AM on June 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

The review linked by Pendragon is likely more entertaining than the actual film.
posted by nubs at 10:50 AM on June 27, 2014

I saw the trailer for this when I went to see Godzilla. A couple of fourteen years old kids a few rows back got really exited: "Whoa, this movie is going to be awesome!!".

I thought, nope, this movie isn't for me.
posted by Pendragon at 10:53 AM on June 27, 2014

Are we, though? Are we?

No. Not even with Grimlock in it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I haven't seen this and can't imagine I will, but I have to drop my friend's review in the thread. His side gig is as a pop-culture (tv/movie) reviewer for the local corporate alterna-weekly and he couldn't sit all the way through this one.
posted by immlass at 7:13 PM on June 27, 2014

from SFGate's Peter Hartlaub:
We save the worst news for last: The new "Transformers" is a completely unnecessary and soul-crushing 165 minutes long, bloated by exposition and plot turns that sound as if they were being made up as the movie was shot. You could cut 45 minutes out of "Transformers: Age of Extinction" in completely random places; it would be a much better movie (and only slightly less coherent).
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:23 PM on June 27, 2014

So... Many... Sunsets.
posted by FreezBoy at 6:45 AM on June 28, 2014

Marc Fennell from Australian radio station Triple J gives a short, sharp summation of exactly how bad this movie is.
posted by h00py at 7:19 AM on June 28, 2014

Are we, though? Are we?

Yeah, I don't know. I was firmly in the "don't care if the plot is stupid, just wanna see giant robots fight" camp, presumably the type Bay was talking about, but after reading some of the reviews I'm having second thoughts.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2014

I was in that camp for the first movie, but then I saw how little robot-punching it actually had by volume. When the decreased focus on Transformers became a common criticism of the sequels, that's all the reason I needed to stay away.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:16 PM on June 28, 2014

I would see the hell out of a Peter Dinklage batman movie. The only issue would be how he keeps his secret identity, but I'm sure some creative scripting would take care of that.

I watched all 3 Bay Transformers with improved on them but could not really salvage them, sadly.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:22 PM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Michael Bay on Transformers Haters: "Let Them Hate, They're Still Going to See the Movie."

Those of us who truly hate them won't. I sat through the first with RiffTrax, but cut the second one off even with Mike and co's accompaniment. I haven't seen three or four (this is four? really?), and wouldn't see five even if Joel and Mike got back together for a special one-time-only riffapalooza against it.

But some people do go and see them. When I next find these people out "in the wild," enthusing about the movie, I'm going to practice my Withering Stare.
posted by JHarris at 1:49 AM on June 29, 2014

Those of us who truly hate them won't.

At the first run, at an over priced threedee mall pseudo imax faux-extravaganza showing, no, not likely; but late one night, clicking through all too familiar SVU reruns, a bond or bourne flick seen too many times are the only options other than home shopping network or yes that old rejected transformers. Then with churning michael-bay-self-hate, you'll sit through it. And Michael will gloat inside.
posted by sammyo at 6:33 PM on June 29, 2014

Look, I know what you're implying, that if it's just something that happens to be on I'll just leave it on.

Except I won't. Transformers movies are actively offensive to me. When I got halfway through II and realized that A. one of the characters had told one of his dogs to "stop dominating" the other -- yes, sexually, B. it wasn't enough for Bay to have black people fulfill ethnic stereotypes but he had to invent black robots to fill them, and C. a female character descended a spiral staircase for no reason other than to have the camera hover behind her rear as she walked down....

No. If a Michael Bay Transformers movie comes on, I will change the fucking channel, and if there's nothing else on, I will turn the TV off.
posted by JHarris at 10:21 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

(Now, someone will say "Admit it JHarris, you cuddle your Bumblebee pillow every night before bed." And then I'll go on another tirade against Bay, oblivious to the fact I'm being trolled. Well, so be it. Bay fills me with such loathing -- not self, the ordinary kind -- that it short-circuits my self-reflection. The man is just such a tool.)
posted by JHarris at 10:27 PM on June 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Then it's a good thing you found this thread on the FANfare portion of the site dedicated to his latest movie.
posted by dogwalker at 3:02 AM on June 30, 2014

Has anyone in here other than take-one-for-the-team mathowie actually seen it yet?
posted by doctornecessiter at 4:06 AM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well that's the thing isn't it dogwalker? No one in this thread has really spoken up in favor of the movie. Even the author of the main post found it excruciating. Strong dislike, after all, is kind of a form of fandom.
posted by JHarris at 4:22 AM on June 30, 2014

Strong dislike of something not seen is not a form of fandom to me. I'm with doctornecessiter in that it really seems like no one commenting here has actually seen the movie. I flagged a lot of those comments as noise, but I guess actually watching something before commenting isn't a true requirement here.

I just don't understand your motive for commenting. You hate Michael Bay. Okay. You hate these movies that you've never seen and will never see. Weird to me, but fine. You have the desire to share that hatred in a space reserved for discussion of the content of one of those movies. I don't get it, seems so rude. (To be fair, someone could be praising it as the greatest movie ever and if they hadn't seen it yet, my confusion level would be about the same.)

I've seen the movie. It's fine. Some cool visual and sound effects. It's way too long, but I feel the same way about ninety percent of the movies I've seen in the last five years. It's pretty in line with the previous 3 movies in most ways, so I enjoyed/disliked most of the same stuff from them.
posted by dogwalker at 11:08 AM on June 30, 2014

I flagged a lot of those comments as noise, but I guess actually watching something before commenting isn't a true requirement here.

This part of the discussion itself is noise. If you're looking for motives for commenting, well, you don't need one, but anger suffices. I've not seen anyone say a thing about Transformers IV that seems to indicate it's any different from Transformers I, and I paid my dues on that one hard. But I wouldn't even have made the previous comment if someone hadn't said something that seemed to want a response. I'm done with that, now.
posted by JHarris at 11:40 PM on June 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Look, I really liked the first Transformers (mainly because of Barricade), and then I was really pumped for the second one and it was quite bad, and then I really viscerally disliked the third one, and in retrospect all of these movies are terrible poison and should be scourged from the Earth. And despite ILM's CGI mastery (is ILM still doing them?), they should be ashamed of themselves for not, at any point, turning to old scrotum-head in his stupid fucking baseball cap, and telling him "No". No, we will not render that thing. No, we will not have you take our hard work in figuring out how to change a truck into a robot and let you spin your stupid camera around it in incessant circles until it's just a whirling mass of shards and cogs and chrome. No, Optimus Prime is not going to be in another shot, these movies are going to be all about Barricade because he is a fucking awesome Mustang, and Sideways because he is a fucking awesome Audi R8. Goodybe, Michael Bay. Goodybe FOREVER.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:52 PM on July 1, 2014

In Age of Extinction, the plot is a losing Cards Against Humanity hand and the people are stick figures, but the machines are astoundingly detailed, with thousands of articulated parts that move at incomprehensible speeds...

But the movie doesn’t just exemplify senseless technological advancement — it depicts it and critiques it...

The bludgeoning excess of Age of Extinction is Bay’s attempt to short-circuit a Skynet of his own creation; he’s taking viewers out behind the woodshed and making us smoke a whole pack of Autobots as a kind of aversion therapy...

Age of Extinction is a movie about how the Transformers movies ruined movies. It’s Michael Bay using the master’s tools to sabotage the master’s fleet of Ferraris. It’s a $200 million viewing apparatus for staring into the abyss.

Age of Exhaustion: The Year of the Self-Loathing Summer Movie (also contains minor spoilers for 22 Jump Street and Edge of Tomorrow)
posted by nubs at 10:54 PM on July 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

C. a female character descended a spiral staircase for no reason other than to have the camera hover behind her rear as she walked down....

Not to mention the crotch shot provided as a teenaged girl exited a car. Then there was the very pointed reference to the so-called Romeo & Juliet law. Apparently someone thought it was essential to head off any criticism of a 17-year old girl dating a 20-year old guy in a movie about gigantic robots and space aliens.

Speaking of Bay's issues with women/girls, has there ever been a female Transformer and if not, why not?
posted by fuse theorem at 5:26 AM on July 4, 2014

has there ever been a female Transformer

Yes, quite a few, going back to the original cartoon, and yes, even some token appearances of one in one of the Bay films.

if not, why not?

The classic argument to this question is that when telling stories about sentient alien machines that appear to have little in common with how earth biology works, assuming they even have gender is a bit arrogant. Asking why they were all male is a bit like asking why everyone in anime looks like they've been drawn as Americans, it assumes facts not in evidence and reveals more about the biases of who's asking than it does about the subject of the question.

However, while it's true that there could have been some interesting narrative space to explore in having them be asexual machinery, most of the time when that argument was made, it was made by fans who wanted to keep Transformers an all male club, despite the franchise's creators deciding that they wanted to tell stories with two genders of alien robots.

Now, considering the target demographic at the time female transformers were first introduced, an "eww icky girl cooties" type of reaction, while not excusable, is at least understandable. Perhaps the reception would have been better if they were established as gendered right from the start instead of waiting until 2/3rds into season two.

As is, many young male fans already had preconceived ideas of how transformers worked and this new introduction forced them to not only re-examine those ideas, but also ponder what it means to be female in the first place. Absent the usual biological cues, and in the context of a race of alien robots that can change shape into pretty much anything, its quite possible that what makes a transformer female is if they choose to present themselves as such -- an idea that was probably mind-blowing to many an 1980s Middle-America grade-school boy.
posted by radwolf76 at 10:15 AM on July 5, 2014

The classic argument to this question is that when telling stories about sentient alien machines that appear to have little in common with how earth biology works, assuming they even have gender is a bit arrogant. Asking why they were all male is a bit like asking why everyone in anime looks like they've been drawn as Americans, it assumes facts not in evidence and reveals more about the biases of who's asking than it does about the subject of the question.

Whatever, the Transformers in this movie all had male voices so one could easily assume they were "male" or at least presenting themselves as such to the Earthlings.

I'm about as far away from this movie's target demographic as one could possibly be and I wasn't really wondering why/if Transformers were always all male. I more curious about what cars would be used to Transform into females. Jaguar? Subaru?
posted by fuse theorem at 11:31 AM on July 6, 2014

In the live action movies? Motorcycles and a Walt Disney World animatronic from an Alice in Wonderland ride.

In the other branches of the franchise, cybertronian sports cars with no earth car equivalent, more motorcycles, helicopters, and spiders also are popular choices.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:11 PM on July 6, 2014

Between the Mainland CCP (Chinese Communist Party) 'saving' Hong Kong, and the crazy amount of product placement for Chinese goods, this movie left a really gross taste in my mouth.

I get that Michael Bay himself probably doesn't give a crap about Chinese politics. He probably was just told by some marketing exec to make sure Chinese people buy tickets. But, given the CCP's growing transgressions on the rights of Hong Kong people, and especially given the rising strength of the pro-democracy movement, this is way worse then just putting a commerical for budlight into your movie.

He basically let his movie get used as propaganda for the Chinese government. It's kinda like making a Care Bears movie, and then adding a scene where a member of the Westboro Baptist Church saves a queer kid from all his bullies.

I hope everyone involved in making this movie got paid enough to make selling out and supporting evil worth it.
posted by tinymegalo at 12:11 PM on July 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is sort of an unfortunate thread to find. It's what I'd expect to find over on the main section of MetaFilter, because MetaFilter hates Michael Bay. But I feel like part of the implicit pact of FanFare (emphasis mine) is that you'll let people gush about their dumb movies and shows, and you'll keep out of threads that you're not into. Having said that, it's Matt's site and not mine, and he created this thread to shit all over the movie, so.

Anyway. Every summer I want to see all the comic book and superhero movies, and every summer I'm too busy. I finally got around to seeing this one just last week. (I missed the X-Men and Spider-Man movies.) On first impression I was disappointed all the Grimlock buildup led to just a few minutes of screentime, but I'm okay with it. I like how many different versions of Grimlock have developed over the years, and how different they are: the comic, the cartoon, High Moon's games, and now this. This one is my least favorite; but if there's going to be variety, then there's going to be a least favorite.

Galvatron was the big surprise for me. (I went in cold.) I thought that re-envisioning was pretty cool. I could do without "transformium," but that aside, it manages to introduce Galvatron without needing Unicron, and it's a much better human tie-in than Patrick Dempsey provided in the last film. Personally I'd rather see a Transformers movie without humans altogether, but if you're going to include them, this wasn't a bad way to get to Unicron.
posted by cribcage at 6:19 PM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Speaking as one of the biggest Michael Bay haters, and thinking it should be okay to say so here --

If you really liked it, I'm glad you're here saying it.
posted by JHarris at 7:56 PM on July 27, 2014

In seriousness, the movie is really disjointed. The various plots don't play off each other very well. I watched the movie well over two weeks ago, sorry about any detail fuzziness ahead.

The scenes at the beginning with the autobots getting hunted down lost me immediately: okay, maybe it was in medias res, or required some previous knowledge of the franchise on the watchers' part. Perhaps something later on would explain what was happening satisfactorily. The explanation was "the Autobots are aliens, we want to protect ourselves from aliens, therefore we need to destroy autobots in order to protect ourselves; we can do it, we've got the technology now". But the alien threat is undefined. The Autobots are running away while the Decepticons are camping out until humans make a deal with them. The strategy looks like "destroy autobots first and satisfy decepticons so they'll leave -- for now". What other aliens are there for humanity to be afraid of? The Decepticons could come back, of course, but the witch hunt at least suggests the US military was putting the first steps of a bigger plan in action.

But a trip to Wikipedia reveals that I've read the situation wrong. Lockdown isn't a Decepticon, and both autobots and decepticons are being hunted down. I don't know what this could suggest other than lack of clarity on the movie's presentation, or a lack of attentiveness on my part. Being jam-packed in a theatre, there wasn't really room for me to be unattentive. So maybe it's my memory. But I seem to recall coming home from the theatre thinking I wanted to figure out just what the heck happened, before ultimately deciding it wasn't worth agonising over. The irony's not lost on me.

The introduction of the token civilians, the Yeagers, was mostly delightful. They show a line of beaten down mailboxes on the side of a road going through a vast wheat field. You see Tessa Yeager stopping by to get mail while dragging along a little red wagon. One thing doesn't make sense: the little shelf that says (paraphrased) 'will fix anything you put here. Pay with whatever you like'. And it's note perfect foreshadowing of what Tessa's father does and the rough patch they're going through, all wrapped up in one tiny scene. Then an inventory father who thinks he scrounged up the find of the century is trying to justify his enthusiasm to his pragmatic daughter. I can't help but feel that if the movie started here the stakes could have been built up from the ground. And since the movie essentially revolves around this particular family...

Might type more later, at this rate I won't get any sleep.
posted by aroweofshale at 2:08 AM on August 4, 2014

I wasn't bothered by the poor narrative about why the Autobots were being hunted. This was a fourth movie, and there had been enough tension between Autobots and humans in the first three that I immediately understood. I thought the "Remember Chicago" thing was a nice touch, here.

Lockdown isn't a Decepticon, and both autobots and decepticons are being hunted down.

One thing Michael Bay has totally fucked up is the split between Autobots and Decepticons. That should be all there is: Autobots and Decepticons. Stop this nonsense where in every movie there's a robot entity of some kind who predates the Autobot-Decepticon struggle. When I saw Lockdown in the trailers month ago, I was psyched because I was 100 percent positive that was Shockwave. Even if Bay didn't actually call him Shockwave, it was going to be Shockwave and it would fix some of what sucked about Transformers 3, and it's okay if they totally rip off Michael Shannon's character from Man of Steel. But no, it's SuperTransformer Boba Fett.

I agree about the Yeagers. Although the father-daughter interactions were too long: we get it, it's a role reversal, stop hammering us over the head. Bay did the same thing with Sam and Mikaela in the first film: we get it, he lusts for the hot and popular girl, now show us more robots. Ditto in 3, we get it: he's jealous of Patrick Dempsey, I don't care about John Malkovich, show more robots. You could establish these things in one or two shots, but Bay drums on for minutes. I have a fundamental objection to even having humans in Transformers story lines. Who cares. Here's a clue: the original cartoon was basically a toy commercial, and Hasbro never made toys of Buster or Spike or Daniel. If I want to see humans, I'll watch The Bridges of Madison County. Show more robots.

Having said that, I liked Wahlberg's character. He and Josh Duhamel have portrayed the best humans in the series so far. Wahlberg had some great lines. I laughed.
posted by cribcage at 9:51 AM on August 4, 2014

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