Overall, my thoughts on this movie were that it was too long, had too many blatant product placements, and had a father-daughter relationship that was almost as painful as all of the filler action sequences.
But really, what can you expect from Transformers 4 directed by Michael “Star Spangled ‘Splosions” Bay? I say that lovingly because usually his movies are fun to watch at least once, but lately his movies have been so ridiculous that it just isn’t even fun anymore.
My most broad comment about the movie that doesn’t really go into any specifics is that it feels too long. There are a lot of action sequences that weren’t necessary, and at least once character who I felt was brought in and did nothing for the plot. Without some of this, I feel like the movie could have been done in 2 hours flat rather than 2 hours 45. The shorter time would have greatly benefitted the plot.
The story that was there was decently interesting. It was just swamped by a lot of other things that really took away from just how interesting the story was.
Now this is where I’ll get more specific.
The product placement was so blatant that it was painful. The transformium turns into a beats stereo system that fills the entire frame and stays on camera for several seconds. A Bud Light machine is smashed causing Bud Light cans to spill out onto the sidewalk where Mark Wahlberg picks one up and opens it on a stranger’s car door. A Victoria’s Secret bus is shown on screen for a solid 5-10 seconds as a transformer blasts through it, never disrupting the view of the company name. Those are just the top 3 that really stuck out to me, but I’m sure there were more. It was just too much. I thought we were all over this?
The father-daughter relationship between Cade and Tessa gets very old very quickly. At least for me it did. Their relationship starts out with Tessa saying that she takes care of her dad, and his inventing isn’t helping at all. Cade makes a lot of comments about how Tessa isn’t allowed to date or do anything reckless. It is revealed that Tessa has a secret boyfriend named Shane who is 20 while she is 17. Cade makes a lot of snide remarks throughout the rest of the movie about their relationship. Tessa thanks her boyfriend for saving her after every obstacle even when he didn’t do anything. Cade reaches a point where he trusts Shane and makes him promise to protect Tessa forever. Roll credits.
It’s all very stereotypical daddy-daughter, nothing really memorable. Their antics reach a point where I just wanted it to stop. At one point, Tessa, Cade and Shane are trying to climb down from an alien spaceship to a skyscraper in Chicago across some tightrope-esque contraptions. Rather than listen to her father trying to calm her into crossing safely, Tessa wails that she’s going “back to the space ship” after already crossing halfway, facing certain death on the space ship, and having security dogs behind her to kill her. I will not get over that. Cinematic gold. She probably should have gone back.
On top of those three things, which I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I also feel that there was a character that was completely unnecessary. A blonde woman, a scientist of some sort (It wasn’t strongly specified). She is introduced in “The Arctic” finding dinosaur bones that were melded into Transformium. She comes back later with pictures from “The Arctic” showing the CEO of KSI what she has discovered. It is loosely revealed that she is his ex-girlfriend. She disappears for a bit, and then comes back in order to freak out about a bomb in the car, tells her ex she’s proud of him for doing the right thing and then is never seen again.
Her entire character and scene in “The Arctic” should have been cut. The viewer saw dinosaurs being disintegrated, we didn’t need that repeat of information. The inventors at KSI could have easily had those pictures on a desk and talked about it amongst themselves. The character herself really doesn’t do much for the story in my opinion.
What she does do, is she adds a whopping third woman to the story. I know right, three women? That’s far too many. We have Tessa, the teenage daughter, and we have Su Yueming, the martial arts toting leader of KSI’s Chinese location. This third woman, Darcy, really has no other qualities about her other than being Stanley Tucci’s loosely defined ex.
What Darcy also does, is she allows Transformers: Age of Extinction to pass the Bechdel test, a feminist critique on film theory which calls for the film to have at least 2 women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Transformers barely passes this test simply because of a short exchange between Darcy and Su Yueming in the car about the bomb they’re carrying. That’s really it.
I won’t lie though. I did like seeing a feisty Li BingBing as Su Yueming. It’s always nice to see a woman of color in a more prominent role. I’m on the fence about her martial arts skill, but it wasn’t a defining mark of her character, so that definitely benefits the situation. Her character isn’t forced into a relationship with Stanley Tucci in the end, and she definitely holds her own.
While I’m still hoping that this will be the last Transformers movie, I’m pretty sure it won’t be. The film does end itself on a note that promises another sequel.