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Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Wing Saber » Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:08 am

My thoughts:
[*]It was the best of the four, but still very much a Micheal Bay movie.

[*]The plot was horrible from the point where they escaped Lockdown's ship and onward

[*]The Transformers were actually characters instead of weapons that move in slow-mo and say one-liners

[*]Marky Mark was far better than Shia Labeauf

[*]Lockdown was a fantastic villain

[*]Galvatron (The Megatron version, not the human controlled version) seemed forced in there. I would've rathered they foreshadowed it this movie with the human-controlled one and maybe an offhand comment from Brains and waited until the next one to bring him in.

[*]Seems like there was a lot of advertising based around the Dinobots for such a short on-screen time and basically just being rides for the Autobots

[*] I was relieved that they killed off the annoying comic-relief character, but they replaced him later with the businessman (I'm bad with their names)

[*] I wonder who the creators are going to be. It can't be Primus or Unicron since Lockdown and Optimus both seemed to imply that there were multiple of them
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby cyberwuss » Mon Jun 30, 2014 5:09 pm

Just saw it and it was great.

I honestly think the hardest part for me was the change in tone from the first three to the serious and darker and sadder tone of Optimus leaving Earth along with all the other stuff he had to deal with.

This movie really showed his less human and warlike side, which brings me to the second toughest thing to deal with which was Optimus being sort of a bully (though arguably in a time of desperation and great need of military support) against his fellow TFs and humanity too.

The main reason I brought that out was that part of what made Optimus so good for his original 80s run in G1 was that he was an antibully, and it was hard seeing him go through situations that demanded that from him and like others said, combined with Ratchet being tortured was really sad.

This was also shown in the personality of the other Autobots too. Bee seemed really broken hearted through most of the movie and Crosshairs felt a little weasily almost like an Autobot Lockdown in some ways. Bee seemed almost like he was losing respect for the reasons they were fighting the war in the beginning, (alot like Optimus), Crosshairs was like Autobot Lockdown/Starscream. Hound was a bit off his rocker at times with the almost overly hopeful attitude he had everytime Optimus showed up. Really enjoyed all of the TFs personalities in the movie and liked the designs too.

The last part of the tone that was hard to get used to other than the Autobots almost becoming Decepticons was as someone else mentioned the background music seemed a little off during human stuff, combined with the dead seriousness of many villain side humans it made most of the humans with KSI really overintimidating toward the middle, like everyone was out to intimidate everyone else.

Now on the positives I did really like the one song Imagine Dragons did when Yaeger first drives up to the old theater, the song was "All For You" and was also in the credits.

On the plot side there is alot going on and so its like the plot is really fast and the action is slower than the first 3 movies. The first 3 movies the plot was really slow and the action fast, really the best way I could describe my feeling about that aspect.

Plot felt like a mash up of earlier Transformers stuff, as it does too in some of the first 3 movies, but it was like more of it was packed in.

Had some ideas from Animated with Sumdac repairing Megatron but Megatron hacking stuff, not to mention Lockdown and his taking of Ratchet.

Had ideas with evil CIA guys being like MECH from TF: Prime and the idea of the Seed reformatting earth like Prime as well, though this was like someone said sort of like Key to Vector Sigma in G1 too.

There were alot of nods to previous Bayformers towards the end by the humans mostly, like scenes that felt alot like previous Bayformers scenes, the girl and boyfriend grabbing hands looking at each other in slowmo almost in the same pose as in Bayformers 1, alot of the angles on the bots fighting like in Bay 2, and Tucci doing alot of lines frome earlier TF Bay movies, almost poking fun at Shia being gone, like when he tells Bingbing's character "I will follow you anywhere" like DOTM where Sam asks for advice from his parents and later uses the same line on Carly when they are reunited.

I loved the line Yaeger has with the speech about people finding treasure among junk, and I liked the stuff with Optimus having a soul and Galvatron having an empty space where his heart should be, and at the end where Optimus says to imagine one of the stars is his soul, sort of in a nod that he got his hope for humanity back and not to worry about his soul after all the bullying stuff that was going on :p

Just makes me worry for Optimus and the bots if they do make a TF5 since Galvatron is still around.

So other than being a mashup of earlier TF stuff it also felt a bit like Short Circuit and Iron Giant in the parts where they weren't fighting their tails off.

Short Circuit and Iron Giant, mostly Iron Giant for the part where he felt like a war machine when provoked, and when he flies off at the end (though that was a much different plot in IG the scene felt much the same) and Short Circuit for the way it handles robots having a soul.

EDIT:

The framerate in this movie was really good, probably those 3D cameras they've been advertising on everything in movies since the first Hobbit film.

Also, on the overall tone of the film, it felt genuinely like it could be the last Live Action and stay there, especially with Optimus leaving and alot of other stuff that was done. It really stood on its own in a different way than the others.
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Agent X » Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:04 pm

Solid 3rd for me, I still say 2007 was the best and DotM is 2nd.

The film wasn't bad but it wasn't that good either. I found the score lacking when compared to the scores form the first three films. Again I found it hard to care about the humans except for Attinger, and the generic movie boyfriend (to quote my friend) " was almost as bad as he who shall not be named in RoTF." Galvatron was underused and could almost have been left out.

That being said; Lockdown and the Autobots actually being characters instead of set pieces was great. I think they wanted to use Springer but changed him to Drift because Springer would be to similar to Hound. Hound was great, now I hope Dr Woo or some one else makes a flack vest for the Voyager Hound figure. Really all the voice acting was great. Noting that it had been 5 years since the battle of Chicago (ergo the film takes place in 2016) was a good set up the basic plot.


To conclude I give this film two out of three Two-Headed- Shockwaves



My friend and myself have deduced that Megatron's conciseness survived because he was merged with the Allspark thus mutating his spark.
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Tacticon » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:37 am

"Optimus!!!... your father wants you to return home...don't you remember... his name is PRIMACRON!!!"

By the way, did any of you get what Optimus said about Lockdown's ship during their conversation?? It refers to some historical significance at Cybertron. I only got this part "..........something something Terminus.. which you've desecrated."
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Sabrblade » Fri Jul 04, 2014 12:18 am

Saw the film for the second time. Will be giving my thoughts about it here in the near future.
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Sabrblade » Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:25 am

And now, my review.

WARNING: The following review is of epic editorial length, spread across multiple posts, and will contain some things I’ve said before previously (if not here, then in other threads or on other sites), so I apologize for the length and any repeated points in advance.


I have to admit, prior to seeing this movie, I was a little nervous about seeing it, what with how miserable DOTM turned out to be, and after hearing some things in earlier reports from this movie that had me feeling a little uneasy, like the idea of Optimus being “a darker, more desperate version” of himself, or when Titus Welliver openly declared this to not be a kids movie and then be forced to turn around and say that it is (which tells me that he wasn’t supposed to give away the non-kid-friendly nature of this movie and had to take back what he said).

What’s more is that, counting this movie, I’ve seen 11 films in theaters this year, and up until my first viewing of this movie, all seven of the ones I saw before this movie ranged from being “pretty good” to “excellent”, IMO. So I was a little ambivalent towards this movie for fear that it might break this streak of seeing good movies that I had going then. Chronologically, these are all of the theatrical films I’ve seen in 2014 (note that the first two actually came out last year, but I didn’t see get to see the two until January of this year):
  • Frozen
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • The Lego Movie
  • The Wind Rises
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Muppets Most Wanted
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
So, yeah, that’s some pretty tough competition for AOE in terms of quality and/or positive reception. But the more I got to see of the trailers and preview clips for this movie, the more excited I got.

(For those wondering, I also consider the three post-AOE movies in the “pretty good” to “excellent” range, except for TMNT, which was just “okay”.)

Fast forward to today, on which I finally present my review (better late than never, huh?). I did see the movie back when it came out in June. Three times, to be honest. Not because I legitimately wanted to see it that many times out of enjoyment, but because of two other reasons. One is that I saw it the first time to see it, the second time with friends (who had free movie tickets, so there’s that), and the third time with my dad. The other reason is because I wanted to understand this movie. To better grasp the meaning of what it’s all about and why it did the things that it did. I wanted to educate myself on this… flick.

To start off with, let’s look at the beginning. For the first three films, I’ve noted previously how each of those all seemed to have virtually the same narrative structure:
  • Opening narration by Optimus about a MacGuffin from long ago
  • Title card
  • Activity with the Transformers and the military
  • Sam Witwicky being seemingly normal
  • More scenes with the military/government and/or Decepticons as the plot slowly unfolds
  • Weird events happening to Sam
  • More government/military activity
  • The first big Autobot/Decepticon battle with Sam and his girlfriend caught in the danger
  • The emotional aftermath of that action
  • The military/government getting further involved
  • The intensity building up some more
  • Sam and his girlfriend getting dragged into a serious situation
  • Plot exposition padding more of the story
  • The story paving its way for the big climatic showdown
  • The big climatic showdown full of Michael Baysplosions and special effects commences
  • Sam Witwicky getting involved, along with the movie's MacGuffin
  • Much damage occurring during the battle
  • Optimus Prime coming in to tussle with the Big Bad
  • The movie blowing up real good
  • The MacGuffin is destroyed and the Big Bad is defeated
  • Closing narration by Optimus leading to the end credits and the Linkin Park song

To my surprise, I was quite pleased to see this movie open in a way that bucks tradition by having no Optimus narration, the title card shifted into the opening scene of the past, and no military-themed action scene to kick off the flick.

In fact, after the (rather ambiguous at first) opening scene of the dinosaur bombing, the film cuts to its first true scene in the story that is far more calm than any of the previous three films’ beginnings, in which geologist Darcy Tirrel (played by Sophia Myles) arrives in the Arctic to investigate some metallic dinosaur remains.

But, I gotta be honest about two things that bugged me a bit in this first scene. Granted, one of them is a nitpick considering the things to come much later in the film, but I can’t in good conscience let it go. The first bit is simply that the first word we hear spoken in this movie is the S-word. For those unaware, I’m far from a fan of cuss words and don’t really appreciate their usage in the media (particularly children’s media), but I can usually tolerate it to an extent. Here, however, being the first word spoken onscreen in a situation that could have easily called for any number of fitting alternatives to the S-word speaks to me of how limited their vocabulary can be at times. It’s not simply the word itself that bothers me here, but that its use feels unnaturally forced here in for the sake of it, when anything else like “Shoot” or even the less offensive D-word would have sufficed. Later uses of the S-word in this movie likewise feel unnatural, such as when Li Bingbing’s character realizes that the Seed is a bomb and she uses it over something more natural sounding like “My god” or something of her own native language. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I don’t object to the swearing in and of itself (though I feel really ought to), just that I feel they need to be more clever/smart/careful about using it, especially in movies that are directly tied to mainstream lines of children’s playthings like these movies are.

The other thing that bothered me in this opening scene was the dinosaur remains themselves. Aside from one brief glimpse back to them via photos in a later scene, they’re never brought up again and play no role in the story, not even being connected to the Dinobots despite one of them looking very much like Scorn. This would lead one to think that this scene was added in at the eleventh hour, as a sort of last minute addition to go along with the Dinobots (who were added in after the production began), which is what happened, right? On the contrary. According to this interview with writer Ehren Kruger, “this movie always did deal with origin stories and creation stories. It always opened as this movie does.” So they did indeed plan to have this opening scene from the start, yet it feels like they forgot all about it later and eventually got to a point where they were too late in the process to go back and do anything with the metal dinos from that scene.

Anyway, the film then begins properly when we meet our lead human protagonist Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg, who I must point out has a very peculiar name. For one, his first name being “Cade” strikes me as a pretty interesting coincidence that he’d have almost the same first name as another main Transformers human character from another series that’s currently on the air: Kade Burns from Transformers: Rescue Bots. I only point this out due to “Cade”/”Kade” not being that common a name and the timing in which both characters exist. Additionally, his last name is of interest for how its spelled vs. how it’s pronounced. Though it is spelled as the American “Yeager” (“yee-gher”), the movie pronounces it in the original Germanic “Jäger”/”Jaeger” (“yay-gher”) pronunciation. But I digress. Anyway, Cade is a massive improvement over Shia LeBeouf’s Sam Witwicky, who started off okay in the first film but only just got worse and worse in the sequels until his being nearly insufferable in the third movie.

We also meet Cade’s business partner/employee Lucas Flannery, played by standup comedian T.J. Miller, who acts as the comedy relief character for the film’s first act. Lucas is… an odd character. I can’t quite say that he’s funny, but he’s not annoying either. I got a chuckle out of the slapstick with him and the football Cade threw at him, but he’s mostly inoffensive but uninteresting as a character. Some might call him a (bad) stereotype of the surfer/stoner variety, but compared to the likes of Bill and Ted or the two dudes from Bio Dome (played by Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin), he’s pretty tame in his character.

Though, the guy who’s the grandson of the movie house owner seemed like he had something stuck up his rear and really needed to lay off the grumpy pills.

Anyway, we soon meet the teenage daughter of our male lead, Tessa Yeager, played by Nicola Peltz. Like her father, she is also an improvement over her predecessors for not being pure eye candy and actually having a sense of logic and reason in her mind. Though she initially comes off as a typical Hollywood movie high school girl ready to “get a tan and get wasted,” we very quickly see that that isn’t the real her, that she’s really more responsible at heart, even if a bit reluctantly. In the scenes between her and her father about their financial situation, she the one making the most sense of the two, speaking more maturely than he is and actually trying to plan for the future rather than just hoping for good luck like Cade is. Sure, he’s trying to make something out his work, and is determined to not give up on his dream, but he still needs to face reality at this point and realize that he needs to try an alternative to his current agenda.

On the flipside, however, Cade gets about an equal amount of justice in his own viewpoints about things regarding Tessa’s adolescence. He wants to keep her celibate until after she graduates high school and thus has a “no dating” rule in effect because of how he missed his own high school graduation due to his own misdeeds with Tessa’s mother resulting in Tessa being born during his senior year. Not wanting her to go through the same ordeal, and as a promise to his deceased wife, he’s made it his mission to protect her no matter what. And, in what might be the sole camera shot of sexual fanservice in the entire movie (a shot of Tessa’s short shorts-clad butt), Cade expresses a disapproval for his daughter’s revealing legwear. Meaning that the main protagonist in this Michael Bay movie written by the same guy who wrote ROTF and DOTM is an advocate for decency and against sexual fanservice. And this isn't done strictly as a means to appease the viewers who disliked the indecency of the previous films, but as a tie in to his character of being an overprotective father who doesn’t want his daughter to repeat the same mistakes that he’s made.

Between these two, this movie’s off to a great start as far as character likability is involved. In an earlier scene, however, we meet our not-as-likable human antagonist of this movie: Harold Attinger, head of the CIA black ops unit known as Cemetery Wind. Played by Kelsey Grammar, Attinger spells out the timeframe of the movie being set five years after the third film, and establishes the second major plot thread of the film (the first being the struggling life of Cade and Tessa), that Cemetery Wind specializes in hunting down remaining Decepticons still on the loose. However, as Attinger views all Transformers as a threat, Cemetery Wind is both indiscriminate and discriminate towards both factions, showing no distinction between Autobot or Decepticon, hunting down all Transformers as a single race. Attinger is paranoid and over-the-top in his performance, borderlining on cartoonish in his portrayal, but subdued just enough to keep a cool head on his shoulders. He’s not an awful character, and is believable enough, but he’s just another J. Jonah Jamieson type that we’ve seen a dozen times already, rather than anything remarkable.

After the introduction of Attinger, we come back to the Yeager home with our first moments of actual padding. Tessa and Cade bicker about his buying a truck and fixing broken “junk”, Lucas waits on a malfunctioning beer-delivering bot, Cade chases off the “purple people eater” realtor lady trying to sell his house, and Cade and Tessa discuss their financial troubles. While all this would be fine in any other family film, all this in this movie feels more like its stalling for time before we get any Transformer-related action, as there still hasn’t been a single Transformer to make an appearance in the present time of this movie at all. The only props I can give to all this is how it illustrates the weight of responsibility on Tessa’s shoulders and how it’s molded her character, as I mentioned above. But I really feel that a lot of these parts could have been condensed down or cut out completely to let us get to the stuff we came to see in this movie.

And at about the 15 minute mark, we FINALLY get our first piece of Transformers action in this movie, in which Ratchet is hunted down and assassinated by a Cemetery Wind unit led by field leader James Savoy (played by Titus Welliver), with assistance from the factionless bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan). The pairing up of Ratchet vs. Lockdown is a nice throwback to Transformers Animated, though Ratchet’s death was a bit needlessly harsh. I mean, really, did anyone seriously ask for Ratchet to be murdered, let alone as viciously murdered as he was? This whole scene seemed to portray the human weapons as far more powerful than believable (yes, I know that they could have enhanced their weaponry based on Cybertronian tech/knowledge acquired from the Autobot-Human alliance in the previous films, but still). As a result, it made Ratchet’s demise all the more brutal and unsettling. And Lockdown extracting his spark as though to store it away for later use or something just leaves us asking more questions than the movie cares to answer.

We then see the Chief of Staff (played by Thomas Lennon) in a meeting with the head of the CIA and Attinger, in which we just how cartoonishly serious he really is. I get the feeling that the audience was supposed to be chuckling at the pretty silly portrayal of the Chief of Staff, but it’s Attinger who completely steals the scene, being so UBER SERIOUS that everything that comes out of his mouth, even something as simple as the word “Outstanding,” is pure giggle bait. Kelsey Grammer just had to have had fun shooting this scene, and I applaud the man for not simply bursting into laughter over how SERIOUS BUSINESS he had to be for this brief scene. Makes me wonder how many takes it took for them to get it right. :P

Anyway, we come back to the Yeagers in which we get even more exposition, this time about Cade’s “no dating” rule for Tessa. Like before, this all could have been condensed, but there’s one moment in this part I that can’t help but find really nicely done overall. Though it’s something that really makes me forget that this is a Transformers movie (as have most of all the other Yeager Family scenes thus far), it’s the part where after Cade finishes his talk with Tessa and agrees to let her go out with her friends. Cade stands on the porch of his house at sunset and reminisces about his wife and the promise he made to her to keep Tessa safe. It’s brief but it works very nicely in a picturesque manner and makes the movie almost feel more like a completely different story, like a family drama instead of a spectacle flick. In fact, that’s what most of all of the other Yeager family scenes have felt like. Whether these scenes being such “distractions” from what this film is supposed to be about is a good or bad thing is up to you, as I could see it going both ways, as in “It’s all nice, but greatly clashes with the rest of the movie for being so calm and serene.”

It’s too bad the mood is ruined by a small comical fire in the barn. :roll:

Though, Tessa’s not fooling anyone if she’s really going out that night with no boys, what with us seeing her secret boyfriend chatting online with her earlier.

“Judgment Day” arrives when Cade finally begins to work on the truck he bought (which he bought fairly early in the movie and hasn’t so much as even looked at it since!) and discovers its true nature. But before the movie gets to that (seriously, all this wasted time is keeping the film stuck at a snail’s pace) we get another bout of bickering between Cade and Lucas/Tessa, and a rather unnecessary ordeal with a missile going into their house, which surprisingly doesn’t ignite despite the missile later being confirmed to be live. And then we finally get to the reveal of the main Autobot himself, Optimus Prime. And what majestic words of wisdom and honor does our righteous, fatherly hero of freedom and peace grace us with upon speaking his first line of dialogue?

I’LL KILL YOOOOOOOU!!!!!!!!!

Image

Where. Do I. Begin?

For one thing, Movie Optimus was already controversial enough as a character thanks to the previous three films for his ruthless fighting and dialogue in those movies, especially when the larger majority of his dialogue in those films was in-character dialogue speaking about freedom and peace, making his actions very inconsistent with most of what was saying. For the most part of those films, he spoke like a saint yet fought like savage, or Schwarzenegger.

Here, however, this movie decided to finally reconcile his dialogue with his actions, but instead of dialing it down on his merciless fighting style, this movie instead went and made the first words, the very first words to come out of his mouth in this movie be as ruthless and hateful as the way he fights: “I’LL KILL YOU!”

Not even Peter Cullen would approve.

And I’m not kidding about that. Remember Optimus’s line of “We will kill them all,” in DOTM? Peter Cullen had originally objected to speaking that line, but was overruled in his objection and so had to adjust himself in order to will himself to speak it. Meaning that he had to change his own mindset and perspective about Optimus Prime, about his own character, in order to speak the line “We will kill them all.”

All this comes from the Q&A session of the interview that Larry King did with Peter Cullen back at San Diego Comic-Con 2012 “Optimus Prime: Up Close and Personal:
Fan asking a question: “This is a-a quote question, but will you do the quote from the third movie of Transformers where Optimus is basically PO’d when he comes back, and says “We will kill them all”?

Cullen: “A-A very difficult line, and, ah, I showed some hesitancy to do it. I was overruled. I was, um, coming back from, um… having not been around for a little bit and he came back and he was very angry and he lost his temper supposedly and, ah, his line was “I will kill them all.” It’s not a word that I would ever use. But it was not my choice; I was asked to do it and, uh, I did what I was told.”

King: “Was that out of character?”

Cullen: “Well, I, in analyzing it, Larry, I would think, I would think it was out of character. And uh, it was, it was hard for me to adjust to, and I’ve made mental adjustments to it considering even, you know, in the Bible, you know, the, the Lord, ah, lost His temper on the, the steps of the temple, too, you know? Anger is a part of, of, um, of life and, um, we all are subject to it, so, maybe this is, um, over-analytical, but that’s the way I try to appease--“

King: “In other words, it means he’s human.”

Cullen: “It was human, and, yeah.”
In answering that whole question, it is evident that Cullen was very uncomfortable and felt regret towards having spoken that one line in that movie, so imagine how he felt having to speak so many lines about killing and dying in this one (cuz this first line of his sure wasn’t the last of Prime’s callous dialogue).

Especially when he views Optimus in such a positive, virtuous light, as stated by himself at an earlier point in the interview:
King: “What-what does Optimus Prime mean to you? How do you-- Why does the public love him?”

Cullen: “Well, it was a surprise to me to find out years later, but I think it’s what he stands for. He was brilliantly created, and he’s well written, and I just added Larry [Cullen]’s composure. And I think it’s all about character, I think it’s strength of character, I think it resonates with, um, courage, dignity, honor, responsibility, um, courteousness, and strength, you know?”
There is no honor, courteousness, or dignity in having Optimus’s first spoken line of the movie be one that disgraces the good nature of what the character stands for and means to people. Both for Cullen and for so many others who look up to and respect the Optimus character so tenderly and affectionately. And I myself am not even that big a fan of Optimus.

It is just sad. Shameful and sad.

Image

However…

*sigh*

…In spite of my displeasure with the movie’s introducing Optimus in this way, I… have to be fair. Though he threatens the humans with cries for their murder (*shakes fist irately*), he doesn’t let loose upon them like a full maniac and actually does display signs of restraint towards them, showing just the tiniest glimpse of the true Optimus Prime through his fit of rage. Though he was screaming death threats upon his awakening, he didn't seem to be in his right mind. He acted as though he thought he was still in the midst of the ambush Cemetery Wind and Lockdown launched on him back in Mexico City. So he wasn't really saying it to Cade/Tessa/Lucas personally. And when he seemed to take stock in his new surroundings, he gave a warning to Cade/Tessa/Lucas with "Stay back!" and “Easy, human,” and only knocked Lucas aside with his cannon with a painful yet very nonlethal force, simply to disable him. Had Optimus really been as committed to his cries for murder towards Cade/Tessa/Lucas, I doubt he would have forgone just murdering them right there on the spot instead of merely threatening them with his cannon without shooting them first.

Still, though, he was in a crazed mindset of murder in that first instant of his awakening. He just happened to be woken up by non-hostile humans who gave him the chance to calm down and get his wits together.

And, secondly, this is the movie’s big reveal moment for Optimus? This is how it wanted him to debut? In such a sorry, pitiful state? In the first movie, we got that magnificent debut scene with him coming down from space with that epic music score playing, scanning his altmode, pulling up to Sam and Mikaela, and then transforming and introducing himself with much awe and wonder. In the second movie, we got that dynamic action sequence of him driving out of the jumbo jet, transforming in mid-air to parachute down to the city, and then transforming again to hit the highway and take off into action. And in the third movie, while his first appearance wasn’t quite was momentous as it was in the first two, we still first saw him in his element, working with N.E.S.T. to go after any remaining Decepticons. But here? Here we get an Optimus who is filthy, damaged, vulnerable, scared. An Optimus to be pitied and feared, in a most unglamorous display, all done for shock value. He comes off more as a monster than a marvel. A first-time viewer could easily mistake him for a bad guy at first glance before he gets his act together. Not exactly the best first impression for the biggest hero of the movie.

We then cut to Lockdown aboard his ship in the Arctic, meeting with Attinger to discuss their alliance. It’s in this scene that had me wondering about something the first time I saw the movie. Since the metallic dinosaur remains were shown to be found in the Arctic near the beginning of the film, I wondered if that might be the reason for why Lockdown’s ship was in the Arctic. Like, if Lockdown wanted them for some reason. Then I got thinking that, if those metal dinosaurs might possibly be the Dinobots in stasis lock, maybe this is how Lockdown gets them. Maybe he came to the Arctic to get the Dinobots while they’re still out cold (pun not intended). However, all this speculating on my part turned out to be all for naught, since the movie neither goes back to those metal dinos, nor does it give a reason for the meeting place between Lockdown and Attinger being in the Arctic.

We also learn a few things more about Lockdown; that he’s working for someone who wants him to capture Optimus, and that he’s only working with Attinger because Attinger promised him human Intel. This cryptic bit of info is just enough to keep us intrigued about what is to come of this… buuuuuut, well, we can’t always get what we want.

After Cade sends Lucas away to get more parts to fix Optimus, allowing Lucas to call in about Optimus, we get what has to be one of my favorite scenes of the movie. It’s extremely brief, but nice. Optimus explains to Cade that his power source is called a Spark, containing his lifeforce and memories, which Cade likens to being a soul. It is from this point on that Optimus proceeds to refer to a soul as being synonymous with a Spark. Kudos to their doing this little bit of humanizing.

Afterwards, it is right about here that the two plot threads of the movie that we’ve seen thus far finally come together with the arrival of the Cemetery Wind unit led by Savoy. Lockdown shows up too to show off his two-pronged Wolverine claw not included with his toy (that’s right, it’s not a hook). Although, the rather punctual arrival of Cemetery Wind begs the following question: Did they seriously drive all the way from D.C. to Texas in under 24 hours? Just how did they get there that quickly? Warp drives? Stargates? Magic? Well, the movie sure doesn’t care, so I guess I shouldn’t either.

Once Savoy gets out of his car and introduces himself, I swear this guy is even more over-the-top than his boss. So much so that his whole performance in this scene, despite threatening the Yeagers at gunpoint, is nothing short of amusing. With such an outlandish “evil secret agent” appearance with all black trenchcoats over all black clothing with dark black sunglasses and back vehicles, coupled with such gem dialogue as “My face is my warrant!”, one cannot help but smile and giggle at how much like an old cartoon character Savoy is portrayed to be. His performance in this scene is a glorious rendition of “so bad it’s hilarious”. :lol:

As the agents search for Prime, they don’t see him as he’s hiding under the floor of the barn. How exactly did he get down there so quickly and without making a ton of noise? Once again, no answer from the movie.

And then comes the moment that this scene has been building up to, or rather been stalling for time to pad it out as much as possible before finally] getting on with it: Optimus’s breakout from the barn. He busts out and fires upon the Cemetery humans. Or rather, he fires upon the ground under their feet. Once more, despite Optimus seemingly going off the deep end again, he displays more signs of restraint in his psychosis, shooting only to knock away the soldiers rather than to dispose of them fatally.

This then switches to the first big chase scene of the movie and our formal introduction to Tessa’s boyfriend Shane Dyson, played by Jack Reynor. And, boy, is he badly introduced in this movie. He was previously seen in an extremely brief and easily forgettable video chat with Tessa, then he pulls up to the house at the most plot convenient of times for reasons we are never told (seriously, why did he even come over when he did? He should only do so if/when Tessa gives him the “all clear” to do so in order to keep his dating her a secret from her dad), and then he pulls off a big hero moment just before the chase scene in which it’s like the movie expects us to already be familiar with the guy prior to his rather hasty introduction that follows after.

Now, yes, if one did remember the video chat scene, one could theoretically put the pieces together along with Cade’s “no dating” rule and guess that he’s Tessa’s boyfriend before he confirms it, but come on. He really should have had a better introduction than a couple easily-forgettable seconds on a computer screen followed much later by a sudden rescue chase scene in which we're supposed to hastily remember that he was the barely-visible, barely-introduced guy Tessa was chatting with a good number of forgettable scenes ago.

A way to greatly enhance the structure of the narrative regarding his introduction would have been for there to have been a brief scene of him in person picking up Tessa or meeting up with her after she got permission from her dad to go out with her friends for the evening between his first two spaced out appearances. Or, they could have just cut out the video chatting scene altogether since it was only a few seconds long and abruptly cut off by Tessa seeing her dad pull up with the new truck. In fact, they could have both cut out the chatting bit and introduced Shane better with him meeting with Tessa after she gets permission to go out with her friends, giving him a more proper introduction and putting it after we learn about Cade's "no dating" rule.

Anyway, the climax of the first act is reached with the chase scene that goes for a bit longer than was necessary, and which goes on while Optimus fights Lockdown in the background. Between watching some cars chase each other and watching Prime and Lockdown go at each other, I can’t help but feel that the latter would have been more exciting than the former had it gotten to be the main focus of this climax instead of the car chase. The way the scene kept haphazardly cutting back to Optimus and Lockdown every five minutes or so, only to cut back to the more lengthy car chase after a few seconds each time, makes it look as though the fight was inserted into the scene as an afterthought, so as to say “Hey, don’t forget that there are Transformers in this movie! We won’t focus on them much for the first act, but they are still here!” I can’t speak for everyone, but I would have much preferred to watch more of the Optimus/Lockdown fight in this scene than to watch the car chase.

The chase ends with Shane’s car jumping off a parking garage onto a skateboard ramp to escape the Cemetery Wind Rally Fighters. Some have called this a bit too convenient to believe, but considering how Tessa and Shane were familiar enough with their surroundings to know where to go and what to do, I got the feeling that they had made the jump onto that very ramp in previous racing activities, so I let it slide. What I didn’t and still don’t let slide, however, is what came after the jump. Shane’s car crashes and the four humans evacuate to Optimus. All except for Lucas, who gets stuck in Shane’s car for a bit and, thanks to a grenade tossed by Lockdown, get incinerated into a smoldering corpse.

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This was it. This was the breaking point for me on my first viewing the movie. This was the point that officially turned me off on the movie. I almost wanted to walk out of the film right then and there the first time I saw it. Not because they killed Lucas off, but because of how they killed him off. I mean, seriously, was there anyone in their right mind, any sane person out there who was asking for this? Asking for something so grotesque, so disturbing, so callously and maliciously cruel to be put into this children’s toy movie? And then to have the movie linger on the corpse for so looooong…

This movie did not need to be so needlessly dark! DOTM was already miserable and depressing enough in its excessive amount of darkness, with masses of human Chicagoans getting blasted into flaming skulls. That was NOT something that needed to be topped in this movie! It’s just so mean-spirited and sickening.

I mean, if they REALLY, ABSOLUTELY HAD to kill off Lucas, a way that they could have done so without the shallow shock factor mixed with nightmare fuel that we got would have been for Savoy to have threatened to shoot Tessa and him to get Cade to cooperate back when Savoy’s men had them all at gunpoint earlier. When Cade would prove more difficult than cooperative, Attinger could have ordered Savoy to stick a bullet in Lucas to make an example out of him for Cade. Lucas being shot dead by Savoy could have also been what sparked Optimus to let loose from the barn, furious that he failed to save Lucas’s life by waiting too late, instead of trying to just wait it all out and hope the bad men would go away before finally bursting out. This would have maintained the emotional weight felt by Lucas’s death after the Act 1 climax and would have made Cade seem more vindicated in his later confrontation with Savoy nearer to the end of the movie.

But, what we got instead was just disgusting. And a really harsh, downer way to end Act 1.

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However…

*sigh*

…I knew what was coming and what to expect during my second and third viewings of this movie, so I hated that scene much less than I did the first time around. But I still don’t like it and no one can make me like it. Ever.


To be continued...
"When there's gold feathers, punch behind you!!"

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” -- C.S. Lewis
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Sabrblade
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Sabrblade » Sat Oct 11, 2014 8:33 pm

Second part of my review


So after that moment of misery, Act 2 begins with the aftermath as Optimus drops off the surviving humans at an abandoned gas station, and Attinger (who’s suddenly in Texas now after being in D.C. mere moments ago) berates his team for their failure. He lets Savoy know that Washington thinks they were targeting a Decepticon, but they need to find and silence the Yeagers before word gets out that Cemetery Wind was really after an Autobot. And where are the Yeagers hiding out? A very good question! I mean, we see them inside some sort of building that looks like a full café with a counter and seating area, but just where exactly is this place? It can’t possibly be the gas station Prime that left them at, since that was a tiny little building no bigger than a few square feet. This building they’re current in is massive by comparison. What, is the gas station built from TARDIS tech or something? Well, okay, in a later shot, we see there’s more to the building behind the gas station’s front, like a garage or something, but that part is never visible in frontal shots of the building, and so further raises the question of how wide that part of the exterior is when the interior is rather quite spacious in area.

Anyway, we (finally!) get more info about Shane. Shane is mixed bag of a character. On the one hand he, like Lucas, is not annoying, nor is he offensive or that bothersome in any particular way. But on the other hand, he is not interesting. At all. He mostly serves just four purposes in this movie, and none of them are really all that great. First and foremost, he’s the means through which most of film’s car chase scenes are executed. Being a rally car driver, he is used in this movie’s car chase action sequences as little more than a tool to be used by said action sequences.

Secondly, he acts as a foil for Mark Wahlberg’s character of Cade to play off of, as a means to explore/enhance Cade’s characterization. A lot of this movie’s banter scenes involving Shane are usually between him and Cade, in which Cade is the one whose personality becomes further fleshed out, while Shane remains mostly the same. Though, one could argue that we do see a few other sides of Shane’s personality in certain few instances, which brings me to point number 3: He replaces Lucas as the film’s comic relief character for the next two acts (until he too is replaced for that role, but I’m getting ahead of myself). And the fourth purpose is the most basic one of all: Fanservice. He’s a good-looking rugged heartthrob for audiences to gawk at if they so please.

So yeah, he’s not so much his own character as he is a bare-boned aspect of the narrative.

And his Irish accent keeps slipping every now and then, despite being played by a native Irishman.

Aside from just Shane as a character, we also learn about the history between him and Tessa. Though he’s currently 20 while she’s 17, they dated in high school when she was a sophomore and he was a senior, and are currently protected by a “Romeo and Juliet” law that is introduced and discussed in a most uncomfortable sequence that goes on for longer than it needed to be, to the point that I question if the inclusion of this scene that only exists in this movie to justify the relationship of these two movie characters was really necessary. I mean, if the writer was really that concerned about the age difference between the two of them, then why write the Shane character as being that much older than Tessa? Why not just have him be 18 and be done with it? But if they’re concerned about Jack Reynor looking too old to play an 18-year-old, A) movie makeup can do wonders with appearances these days, and B) older people play younger people in movies all the time. It would not have mattered and would not have necessitated that the movie come to a halt to give justification for their relationship in this very awkward moment.

Cade soon begins tinkering with the Mini-drone he managed to snag hold of back when Savoy’s men came to the farm, and we see footage of of the Autobot Leadfoot taking a note from Optimus by trying to verbally convince the humans that he’s a good guy while simultaneous shooting his guns at them. Smooth.

After Optimus returns to pick up the refugees, Cade uses the Mini-drone to try to access his bank checking account, which has been locked by the feds. However, he also uses it to send Cemetery Wind a message of “I WILL FIND U!” What in blazes is he thinking?! Isn’t the whole point of keeping a low profile to keep from being found by the guys he’s hiding from? He practically daring them to come after him, and since they already were, he’s pretty much rolled out the welcome mat for them by letting them know that he’s coming for them. He even leads the local police to the exact spot from which he sent the message. Genius move, there, Cade!

We then cut to a moment that contains something that I’ve been wanting to see happen in these movies ever since the first one: Onscreen real-time Trans-scanning! Optimus scans a new truck altmode for himself, and the change into it is GLORIOUS. Beautifully animated right down to the molding of the Autobot symbol on his front. Almost nothing is hidden from us in this sequence, as opposed to the first three films hiding most of their Trans-scanning sequences from full view. But here, it is all in the open, fully visible and fully awesome.

Then comes the reunion scene of the rest of the Autobots with some… questionable editing. We first see three cars driving down a road together. Then we see a view of the desert before cutting to a new, rather large Autobot running atop a rock formation overlooking the road, as Optimus drives on in the background. We then see a few shots of Optimus driving before cutting to another blue bot on top of another rock formation before that bot jumps down and transforms into a helicopter form. Then we see Prime pull up as another green bot runs alongside him in robot mode and then is joined by the blue bot. Then the large bot is shown standing off to the side, and the fifth one (the third car) starts transforming before Cade gets out of Optimus. And then fifth bot comes up a hill, followed by Optimus transforming.

Now, when the cars were seen driving on the road earlier, those were supposed to be the Autobots, correct? Well, why on Earth didn’t they just keep driving on the road to rendezvous with Optimus quicker? There was only one road in the scene, and they all end up at the road anyway. Why did two of them decide to transform earlier and go by foot, or in the case of one of them, climb up a rock formation and then fly back to the road after having just come from there? What logic was there in their doing all that?

Okay, I’m not gonna pretend like I don’t know their names. The big one is Hound (voiced by John Goodman), the blue one is Drift (voiced by Ken Watanabe), the green one is Crosshairs (voiced by John DiMaggio), and the last one is Bumblebee (who still doesn’t have a voice).

And, I’m not gonna lie, this movie has finally given us a cast of Autobot characters who are not only colorful both in character and appearance, but also well focused on and well performed. And memorable! Goodman, Watanabe, and DiMaggio are all wonderful in their roles as these characters and breathe so much life and likability into the scenes they are in.

Hound is a gun-toting maniac with a great outlook on life and is pretty much in love with what he does. He’s the kind of guy who knows how to have a good time even in the worst of situations. He’s also got a big Duck Dynasty beard for some reason, but thankfully he’s not depicted like the people from that show. Crosshairs is a bit of wiseguy, being snarky and sarcastic while also being nonchalant and self-centered. He’s also a little gun-crazy like Hound. Drift (who is never named in this movie) is wise, or at least appears to be. He quotes Haiku and shows deep respect and honor towards Optimus.

But, the film gives zero indication of his ever having been a Decepticon, as his toys claim him to have been. If I were a newcomer and someone were to tell me that one of these Autobots used to be a Decepticon, my first guess would likely be Crosshairs. Plus, Drift’s referring to Optimus as “Sensei” makes no sense. The Japanese do not use that word in the same context as Westerners do. He’s basically calling Optimus “Teacher” instead of “Master”. If they felt they absolutely had to give Drift a gratuitous Japanese title to refer to Optimus like how Samurai would refer to their lords and masters, then something like “Tonosama” would have sufficed, even if the average Western moviegoers wouldn’t fully know or recognize that word. They would at least still see it as just some Japanese word, which they’d likely take as being just another aspect of his Japanese-inspired design, while those who would recognize the word would be able to catch the higher-minded reference.

Still, all three are pretty entertaining.

But, it’s because they are so entertaining that I also feel very conflicted about them. Right from the get-go, we see that the Autobots of this movie are not only all enjoyable to watch, but sadly, they also all have the same core personality trait: Jerk. They’re all jerks. Hound’s a jerk, Crosshairs is a jerk, Drift’s a jerk; even Bumblebee’s a jerk. Right off the bat, they’re insulting each other in cynical tones and threatening to kill each other for pleasure. Now, I’m not saying they all have to get along with each other like best buddies, far from it. One of my favorite teams of Transformers was the Maximals from Beast Wars who were always bickering and butting heads with one another. But whereas the arguments and little feuds between those characters were amusing and ripe with charm and wit, the Autobots seen in this movie are cold and trigger-happy, with fetishes for killing the very next thing that moves. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen.

Don’t me wrong, though. I LIKE these guys. I just don’t like the way they behave at times. A LOT of times.

Though, there is one other thing that I have to question about the reunion scene. Right before Optimus transforms, Hound states “We got the gang back together.” This line would be fine if he, Drift, and Crosshairs had already appeared in these movies before now, but they haven’t. This is the first we’ve ever seen any of them, and yet they’re treated here as though they always been here. Couldn’t the movie have bothered to explain where they came from? At least give us a throwaway line or something that tells us when they arrived on Earth. There’s no supplementary material to go along with this movie--meaning no comics or novels to serve as prequel material or inside info--so a little clarification on their being here on Earth would not have been too much to ask for.

Anyway, to get the Autobots back into focus, Optimus declares that they need to find out why humans are helping Lockdown to hunt them. Cade states that, while he doesn’t know “why”, he has an idea about “who”. He shows them footage from the Mini-drone of Leadfoot’s demise and, in a very touching moment of nice animation, Hound removes his helmet in reverence. Very nicely done.

However, a moment that isn’t so nice is another deplorable line from Optimus: “Autobots, I have sworn to never kill humans. But when I find out who’s behind this, he’s going to die!” I get it. He’s broken, he bitter, he feels betrayed. But this is flat out revenge he’s talking about, an eye for an eye, a level of unethical measures that the Optimus Prime character beloved by many has stood against for all of the brand’s existence. If this were Grimlock or another Autobot leader who’s less known for being as idealistic and moralistic as Optimus has come to be known to be, then it wouldn’t bother me as much. But this is like what Frank Miller did to Batman in his All-Star Batman and Robin comics, in which Batman is a psychopathic maniac who doesn’t care anything about the sanctity of life and is readily willing to kill to get the job done (and seemingly enjoy it, even), completely apathetic towards (or perhaps even ignorant of) the concept of right and wrong. It’s taking an iconic character who has been an embodiment of good will and virtue and turning him down a dark path for the sake of darkness and edginess, as though believing in higher ideals and morals is a sign of weakness and childishness, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

From this point onward, the movie changes. The whole plot with Lockdown and Cemetery Wind hunting the Autobots takes a backseat and no longer matters for the time being. Instead, the movie shifts its attention to a new barely-related plot involving Kinetic Solutions Incorporated, a company trying to manufacture its own line of manmade Transformers. And the only connection it has to Cemetery Wind is through Attinger, who is involved with the company’s CEO through a business arrangement: Cemetery Wind provides KSI with the materials needed to make manmade TFs in exchange for the promise of a large portion of the company’s shares. But as this part of the story proceeds, Cemetery Wind fades further and further into the background as Attinger remains the sole trace of its existence at this point.

We are soon introduced to the aforementioned CEO of KSI, Joshua Joyce (played by Stanley Tucci). Like Lucas and Shane, Joshua is also a character that’s hard for me to put my finger on. I don’t dislike him, but of the three, he’s probably the best performed. Though, like Attinger and Savoy, his performance is also an over-the-top one, but for him, it’s intentional since he’s supposed to be this eccentric and grandiose-thinking character with big plans and massive ideas, and for the most part, it works. The one thing that doesn’t seem the work, however, is his initial status as an antagonist. At first, he’s working with Attinger and he has shades of being similar to him in his ideals, but because of the change of heart he will come to have later on, it’s like the film couldn’t decide for these earlier scenes if they wanted him to act like a bad guy or not, resulting in a performance that seems like he could snap at any moment, walking the thin line between sanity and madness.

We then see that Darcy (remember her?) is an associate of Joshua’s and brings our attention back to the Arctic find from the beginning of the movie… only for our attention to be swayed back away from this non-sequitur to more important matters, namely to a substance known as “Transformium”. Yeah, its lame name but it’s supposed to be. It came from the marketing focus groups. Anyway, the stuff is the stuff of Transformers, what they’re made of and all. Programmable matter (Bill Nye would be proud) able to transform into anything. Now that its genome has been mapped, that is.

The thing is demonstrated in a moment of product placement for the Pill and a gun. Though, when Joshua turned it into a gun, a got a little nervous since he gets a rather creepy smile across his face, as though he was particularly pleased with having specifically created a gun. Darcy’s praise is likewise a bit disconcerting. Had it been something not so dangerous that they turned it into, I might not be as disturbed by this, but as it is, it’s a little uneasy to watch their pleased reactions to a gun, especially with Joshua aiming it right at Darcy.

We then see the Autobots and humans hiding out in what looks to be an old church. Shane and Tessa were sent out to steal supplies and, in a rather dumb movie, Shane stole mouthwash because he “[likes] to be fresh when [he’s] making out with [Cade’s] daughter.” Um, the guy is right there, Shane! And he’s willing to hurt you as evidenced by his threatening you several scenes ago. You pulling that kind of stuff is not helping your getting along with her dad.

Also, this setting is the location of the dance scene that was seen in one of the film’s trailers, but was cut from the final movie.

We then see KSI trying to create their own version of Optimus Prime called Galvatron, but for some reason, it keeps coming out as looking like Megatron after five tries. Joshua also points out the presence of a large hole in Galvatron’s chest. We also see that Brains survived the Battle of Chicago back in the last movie and is now prisoner of KSI, being forced to translate information about TF history and science from the deceased heads of Megatron and Sentinel Prime. ‘Tis really too easy to see where they’re going with all this.

As Cade and friends try to get some rest before their big sneak into KSI, Cade remarks to Optimus about Tessa’s teenage defiance towards him, which Optimus relates to with “Yeah. I went through that with Bumblebee.” I like this line for its allowing Optimus to behave in a casual manner rather than having to always be either so uptight or overdramatic. This is another little bit the film gave to him to make him a bit more well rounded as a character and I like the way Cullen delivered it in such an easygoing style.

Later, as Cade, Shane, and Bumblebee try to sneak into KSI, we get a rather ill-timed scene of Cade trying to get a very timid Shane to confess to being in Cade’s house about a month ago. To quote Shane from this very scene, “You have a really bad habit of having these conversations at the wrong time, man!” Combined with Shane’s uneasiness (despite the fearlessness in the face of life-threatening danger he showed much earlier during the Act 1 car chase), this made for yet another moment of uncomfortable awkwardness.

After they get inside, we get a look at the KSI prototype called Stinger, which is modeled after Bumblebee. Bumblebee then throws a tantrum over the Stinger promotional video insulting him. While Bee did have something of an attitude in the first movie, this whole scene just feels really out of character for the guy considering he was the one who went undercover before. The scout who infiltrated suburbia to blend in so as to get close to Sam Witwicky and find his grandfather’s glasses. Bee’s job requires him to keep a cool head at all times, and here we see him just losing it over something as petty as a few negative comments from a video. What’s more is that this scene further emphasized the ridiculousness of his still lacking a proper voice. Since he still can’t talk, he talks through the radio like the previous movies. Unlike the previous films, however, all his radio dialogue isn’t formatted to sounding like actual radio broadcasts, and is instead just random voice clips that could have passed for standard dialogue without the constant technical changes added in to remind us that they’re just random clips. In other words, Bee’s radio speech sounds as authentic as it did in the Cyber Missions cartoon. :roll:

And, after Joshua and friends leave the room before Bee knocks over the Stinger display, Shane gets accused of the damage Bee committed by another KSI head. One question, though. WHO was that guy? The way he comes into and acts during the scene is as though he’s meant to be someone we’re familiar with, yet he’s been of no importance thus far, having only just now appeared.

We then see Joshua and Attinger meeting with each other, in which they speak of some sort of seed that Attinger says Lockdown will grant them once Prime is captured. I find it interesting to note that, in this scene, it’s Joshua who seems like the one calling the shots rather than Attinger, as though Attinger was working for Joshua, who even threatens Attinger as though Attinger was an expendable part of Joshua’s plans.

In another strange bit of editing, we then see a shot of the Autobots outside all in vehicle mode as Cade stumbles upon Ratchet’s head being worked on. Once he pulls out the Mini-drone to show Prime and the others what he’s found, Prime is suddenly in robot mode as though he had already been in that mode at the time instead of in truck mode. And this isn’t the only time this has happened in this movie, as several characters have likewise appeared suddenly in one mode when having just been in another mere seconds earlier, and we’ll get plenty more of this in the rest of the movie. It reeks of laziness by forcing us to assume that they just transformed offscreen each time, instead of better handling the transitions between mode changes by actually SHOWING them to us. In fact, this whole movie barely has any non-KSI transformations in it. There are some in this movie, but they are far and few in their scarce appearances. A Transformers movie with barely and real transforming in it.

And, based on his reaction to Cade’s discovery, Prime must have REALLY liked Ratchet way more than he did either Jazz or Ironhide, as Prime barely even acknowledged the deaths of either one of those two in the previous films, while going and yelling bloody murder upon learning of Ratchet’s fate here.

As Cade observes Ratchet’s head, Darcy approaches him and a rather peculiar conversation unfolds:
Darcy: “Metal… Just metal. That’s what I always thought of them.

Cade: “Nn-They’re not. They’re living things. With souls like ours. I mean, once, I spoke to one.”

Darcy: “And you’re working with Transformium?”

Cade: Um, I-I, yeah, uh, that’s what I do. I am.”

Darcy: “I’m out there digging for it, there’s just not much left to find. So that’s how badly you boys need more, huh? Reduced to melting evil old Decepticons down.”

Cade: “No… That’s an Autobot, there. The ones who fought for us.”
At first, it seems like Darcy’s curious about Cade (posing as a scientist) having any conflicting feelings about mining the living components of one of the people he claimed to have interacted with before, and then it seems like Cade’s trying to open Darcy’s eyes to the dark reality of what’s really going on here, but neither inkling seems to go anywhere before the scene cuts off, so the sequence is comes off as being rather odd as it is.

After Cade is found out to be an intruder, he’s brought up into one of the upper levels to be interrogated, and the Autobots head toward the building to save him. And on the way, we get another awesome shot of onscreen Trans-scanning, courtesy of Bumblebee. Nice!

As Attinger interrogates Cade, there’s a little piece of dialogue that I caught from the scene that was played in several trailers, but cut out of this movie. After Attinger speaks the words “Where is Optimus Prime?”, Cade’s response of “You tell me,” is absent. Likewise, a piece of Cade’s dialogue from earlier in the movie was also cut out. Way back when Cade and Lucas brought home the truck they bought, Cade’s line of “Bring it up, all the way,” was cut down to just “All the way,” in the final rendition. Coupled with the missing dance scene, I wonder about what all else might have been omitted.

The Autobots then proceed to enter the KSI building in one of the most jerkish ways possible, which I guess is in character for these guys since they’re all very much a bunch of disrespecting jerks anyway. And once they get Cade free (How did they even know when to go after him and where to find him inside?), the rest start shooting up the place down in the lab like the gun-toting maniacs they are. But then Joshua comes in to confront them and…

…we get one of the absolute BEST scenes in the whole movie. It is not an action scene. It is not a comedy scene. It is not a charming scene. It’s not even a scene that’s intended to show off the awesome CGI of the Transformers. No, this scene is a conversation. A philosophical debate of contrasting morals and ideals between Optimus and Joshua:
Joshua: “Hey! Stop! That’s company property!”

Optimus:They’re not your property!”

Joshua: “…”

Optimus: “They were my friends.”

Brains: “Oh, y’ain’t talkin’ so much now that you got Hound in front of ya, huh?!”

Joshua: “Go ahead. Show us your true colors once and for all.”

Hound: “Just give me the word. I’ll splatter ‘em.”

Joshua: “Whydon’tyou tell ‘Itchy Fingers’ here that this is all the spoils of war. Dead metal. Innovation. What we do here, is science. Because if we don’t do it, somebody else will! Because you cannot stop technology.

Optimus: “We’re not your technology!”

Hound: “Lemme vaporize his *bleep*.”

Joshua: “I broke the code. I own your whole genome.”

Optimus: “The world will know what you’re doing here.”

Joshua: “The world? The world will approve. We can make you now. Don’t you get it? We don’t need you, anymore.”

Hound: “That was cruel.”

Optimus: “Autobots… we’re done.”
On one side we got Joshua arguing in favor of progress and innovation, viewing the Transformers not as people but as machinery. And on the other side we have Optimus arguing for life and liberty, showing glimpses of the over-quoted yet still very valid viewpoint of freedom being the right of all sentient beings. A simple, yet very effective and well-expressed battle of dueling principles. Joshua asked for Prime to show his true colors, and that’s exactly what was given here.

I cannot give enough praise to this scene to properly justify how good it is. It is very good, possibly even great! It’s arguably the most highbrow moment of the whole movie, and is a fine example of the kind of potential these films have to excel at being more than what they are. To be more than outwardly pretty, with an intelligent mind behind them. It’s just a shame that such boldly-written, substantial moments like this come so far and few in these movies, as they could really add more meat to what we get from the films. This scene even went as far to include such little touches as Optimus exhaling through his nasal cavity as though to express a heavy yet silent sigh of solemn exasperation.

Though, if I had to nitpick anything about this scene, it’d have to once again be how Optimus behaves in this part. His anger and frustration here are justified, but he moves around kicking stuff and throwing a fit like a child. If it weren’t for the high concepts put into their argument, I’d think this scene would resemble a rebellious kid arguing with his father over something petty that the kid would be refusing to do, as Joshua remains level-headed and good-postured like a respected authority figure ought to be throughout the entire scene. Optimus’ tantrum, however, makes him come off visually as being very immature about the whole situation.

But even despite that, the scene overall was very well done.

Act 2 comes to its climax when Attinger then returns to the forefront as the main baddie, now giving orders to Joshua and forcing him to activate Galvatron and Stinger to go after the Autobots. Upon activating Galvatron, we get a view of a monitor showing a grayscale image of Galvatron’s truck mode that was originally seen on Michael Bay’s website. Galvatron and Stinger intercept the Autobots and then Galvatron transforms...

Ahem, sorry. Not necessarily “transforms” but more like “pixelates”. His transformation is an artificial one depicted as a disintegration of Galvatron’s truck form into a bajillion tiny cubic pieces and then reintegrating them into his other form. Some folks are bothered by these new “fake transformations” of the KSI robots, but I’m not too bugged by them doing it. What does bug me about them, however (and this is just a nitpick) is how they’re used as a means to move through the air from one spot to another during mid-transformation. The cube clusters literally fly around in gravity-defying movements that make it seem like these manmade machines can magically levitate in ways that pretty much render their ground-based wheeled altmodes pointless if they can just float around in blob form at will. It’s so cheaty and makes me wonder why they’d even bother reforming into a physical body form at all, when they could just go on being in cubic blob form seemingly without limits or weaknesses.

And what’s more about this is, do they seriously expect us to buy that it was the humans who created this type of transformation? This transformation that is so advanced that it functions and behaves in ways that borderline the realms of magic?! Instead of being a product of the naturally-born race of super advanced robots from outer space whose technology far out classes our own? I mean, how did the Cybertronians not yet create this technology if they’re completely made of the stuff that allows KSI’s knockoff robots to transform this way? Joshua is seriously under-crediting himself, here. He’s more than just a scientist, he’s a bloody wizard! :P

After Stinger and Galvatron fire some missiles at the Autobots, Drift, Hound, and Crosshairs completely vanish from sight. As does Stinger. Only Bumblebee and Optimus remain visible for the rest of the fight, and they perform a slow-motion jump through the air to transform and catch the humans before transforming back to continue driving off. Sound familiar?

Soon it’s only Optimus who’s left (since Bee got left behind back at the bridge) to fight Galvatron alone. He ejects the humans, transforms, and engages Galvatron. And here we get one of the most confusing aspects of the whole movie. Optimus yells at Galvatron and, in disgust of Galvatron’s artificial existence, declares “You have no soul!” Galvatron responds in ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of Prime’s declaration with “That is why I have no fear!” Ever since the talk Optimus had with Cade about sparks, Optimus has taken to referring to sparks as souls in a synonymous manner. As Galvatron was created by humans who, as far as we can tell from this movie, have NO access to any live-giving power sources like the AllSpark or the Matrix, Optimus is appalled by Galvatron’s artificial existence and calls him out on it. Rather than proving Prime wrong by pointing out the contrary, Galvatron expresses AGREEMENT with Prime’s statement and twists its meaning to being in his favor. Meaning that Galvatron himself recognizes that he has no spark of his own.

YET, Galvatron is obviously alive in this movie. He has a mind of his own, a will of his own, and shows all the necessary signs of a Transformer being alive. He even expresses a willing desire to kill Optimus (“You die!”) despite KSI’s intentions being to subdue and capture Optimus for Attinger to hand over to Lockdown. The problem with all that is that he reaffirms the statement of his lacking a spark, meaning that if he has no spark, he shouldn’t be alive. Yet, here he is, alive and well. And clearly still has that big gaping hole in his chest, as evidenced by how easily Prime’s sword goes into and comes out of it.

Now, before anyone brings up the few post-1996 cases in which a Transformer was alive without a spark, those were all very special cases, in which a supernatural force or substance that could be substituted for a spark did indeed take the place of any missing spark. Or, they were cases of the life simply being a low-tech imitation of actual life, like for drones and such. But as far as this movie tells us, there is none of that going on here. No Dark Energon. No AllSpark fragments, no Angolmois, no divine intervention, nothing. Nor is Galvatron as simple-minded as a drone. What we have here is just human-made technology born of worldly science (as stated by Joshua’s previous “What we do here, is science,” line), lacking the power to create life from lifelessness. And as far as we can see, KSI was NOT trying to create life from lifelessness. They were trying to create remote-controlled automatons designed specifically to be commanded/controlled/operated by humans. Yet, what they got instead was a fully living, fully sentient, autonomous super robot lifeform. By accident.

And YES, I know about Megatron’s head being involved here. I WILL be getting to that later.

Prime and Galvy continue their fight when, suddenly, the movie remembers that it had a completely different story to tell from earlier in the film, and abruptly reintroduces Lockdown, who takes Prime out with a missile and a face gun. Galvatron is taken out of the fight, sending away the last piece of the KSI distraction story, and leaving us to fully return to the original plot of this movie.

As Lockdown approaches, Tessa takes cover inside the abandoned car behind Optimus. I get that she’s scared and not thinking clearly, but that was still a pretty dumb thing for her to do (probably her only really dumb moment of the movie), especially since it only serves to turn her into a damsel in distress later in the film. She could have run away from the road into the field instead. Lockdown wouldn’t have bothered with her since he was dead set on getting Optimus and didn’t bother with the fully vulnerable Cade and Shane either. Sure, he might not have seen them at first when they hid behind the other car, but they came out of hiding when Cade tried to go get Tessa, and Lockdown still didn’t take note of their struggling and making noise in the grass on the side of the road.

As Lockdown chastises Optimus for his former faith in humanity, Optimus demands to know who sent him. Lockdown then delivers a most cryptic response: “Where do you think you came from? You think you were born? Huh! No. you were built! And your Creators want you back. We all work for someone…” Sounds like more foreshadowing to something interesting to come later in this movie, right? Oh ho ho ho ho ho ho, to quote German writer Friedrich Schiller, “Disappointments are to the soul what a thunderstorm is to the air.” :P

Act 2 comes to its end with Lockdown taking Optimus (and Tessa) captive. As Cade runs to try and save his daughter, he is powerless to save her and slams his fist down in frustration. It’s a nice parallel to the aftermath of Act 1 in which Optimus did the same after they lost Lucas. Though, a lot of this could have been avoided had the other Autobots not disappeared earlier. Just where did they go and where are they now? The plot seemingly demanded that Optimus be on his own for this scene, and instead of giving the other Autobots a valid reason to be kept out of this, the movie just forgets all about them, letting Lockdown get away with his quarry with so much ease.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Act 3 begins with the captives brought back to Lockdown’s ship, which has now entered the skies over Chicago, much to the citizens’ great terror (for good reasons considering what the city went through five years prior). Because of the ship’s presence, Attinger gets a call from the Chief of Staff and, I just realized, the guy playing him, Thomas Lennon, kinda reminds me of Jeff Goldblum in the performance of his mannerisms here. Heh.

Aboard Lockdown’s ship (which, btw, looks massively awesome with lots of cool detail), Lockdown speaks in riddles some more:
Lockdown: “Remember this ship, Prime? Built for all you Knights, you ‘great crusaders’, to explore the universe? Well, I’ve commandeered it! It’s my personal prison, now!”

*And later…*

Lockdown: “Welcome back to the Knights’ Terminus, Prime!”

Optimus: “You have disgraced it.”

Lockdown: “Join your fellow rebels, fugitive scum. It’s for the rarest of specimens, the worst of the worst. It’s taken centuries, but I’ve collected all the Knights, but you. The Creators want to sweep their chessboard clean.

Optimus: “I’m slave to no one.”

Lockdown: “All this species-mixing-with-species… it upsets the cosmic balance. The Creators, they don’t like it. They built you to do what you were told!”
As cool as all that sounds, it is enormously confusing and hardly explained at all.

As best can be gotten out from all that, Optimus is apparently part of some group of Knights who were built by the Creators for exploration purposes, and this ship was once theirs. Many speculated that it might be related to something like Unicron or the Quintessons, but we can hopefully at least rule out the former. Apparently, it’s the “Knights’ Terminus”, and is now captained by Lockdown as his own private dungeon for his many captives. Though, the existence of these Knights and how they fit into all this raises many questions that sadly go unanswered in this flick.

Savoy enters the ship via helicopter to receive what Lockdown promised them in exchange for Prime, the Seed. But… this really doesn’t make any sense. For one, Lockdown previously made it sound like the deal was that Lockdown would help them get rid of Prime in exchange for human Intel, but now it’s that the humans would help get Prime for Lockdown in exchange for a Seed? If that’s the case, then Lockdown shouldn’t have to give them anything, since he took Prime on his own, without any help from the humans. He doesn’t owe them anything at all. Sure, Galvatron proved effective enough as a distraction or a means to possibly weaken Prime for Lockdown, but the fact that Lockdown showed up when he did was nothing short of a coincidence. No one was anticipating him to arrive when he did. Even Attinger seemed surprised (pleasantly surprised, but still surprised) to have seen Lockdown show up during the Galvatron fight. Therefore, Lockdown got what he wanted all by himself. The humans didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, so why should Lockdown even give them the Seed when they don’t deserve it?

Cade, Shane, and the ‘Bots sneak aboard the ship and we get another bit of overly-bold dialogue from Shane: “Hey, I’m not here to help you get your daughter. You’re here to help me get my girlfriend.” Again, dude? You’re standing right in front of him. If you’re seriously trying to get on the good side of your girlfriend’s overprotective anti-dating father, you are really not doing a good job at it.

Once inside the ship, we get some pretty colorful moments with each of the Autobots, showing us just how noble and heroic they really are. Like Drift, one minute proposing that that they only use violence as a last resort to enhance their stealthiness, and the next minute hacking and slashing at some creature in the next room over and yelling “I kill you! I kill you!”Or Crosshairs just deciding to give up on their rescue mission mere seconds after their arrival since there’s nothing in it for him. Or Hound getting Crosshairs back in the game by holding him at gunpoint and openly threatening to kill him, his own comrade. And all this just proved to be completely pointless since it could have been fully cut out with nothing lost. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen!

As they search for Prime and Tessa, Crosshairs fires the ship’s anchors while the guys find an arsenal of weapons from which they get a couple of dagger guns that pack quite a punch. And then some. I mean, once Cade figures out how to get his working, he’s suddenly shooting down everything in sight, with all the enemies being thusly reduced from being credible threats to having the aiming skills of Imperial Stormtroopers. And Shane’s cowering throughout this whole sequence is a bit odd considering all the other life-threateningly dangerous stuff he was able to face earlier in the movie.

As the Autobots make their way to the area where Optimus is being held, we get yet another charming moment from Hound. As he looks into the cage of a smaller alien creature, despite being warned not to, he makes a crack at the alien’s “festering ugliness” and gets spat on in return. A gross yet mostly harmless response to a rather mildly rude comment, right? Well, Hound then decides to return the favor once more by flat out wasting the creature because it’s “just too disturbing to live.” Yet, he was warned not to stare at it and was the one who made the first crack at it, so it’s his own fault in first place. And he owns up to it all by just killing the thing. And calling it the B-word. What a guy.

When they find Optimus, he refers to the ship as “this knight ship”. I guess this is where MTV got the name “Nightship” from back in the article they previously wrote about it.

We then come to a scene that has been the subject of much criticism, the cable climbing scene. People say the humans are annoying in this scene, or that at least Tessa is, or that it goes on for too long, or that it tries to be funny and fails, etc. etc. But for me, I didn’t mind it. I can sort of see the argument for it being too long, but the humans acted like how just about anyone in their situation would. If I really had to find something to critique about it, it would be that the humans tried to escape by themselves via the cables rather than going to look for the Autobots and escape with them. Unless they were on their way to find the ‘Bots and just came across this exit first, it still would have been wiser for them to go find the Autobots instead. And as for the Steeljaws that eventually found them, Cade could have easily disposed of them with his gun since it magically makes him uber-competent and the greatest most effective shooter in the movie. :P

But then comes something that was very pointless, the chase scene with the Orbital Assault Carriers. Those same Decepticon ships from the last movie, but are now repurposed here as also a part of Lockdown’s fleet. This chase throughout Chicago served no other point than to stall for time and could have easily been cut out, as it was very very confusing. For one thing, after Crosshairs knocks Bee aside “to lay some hate”, Bee just disappears from the ship completely. Did Crosshairs toss him off the ship? And later when the chase goes underground into the street tunnels that were used in the Dark Knight movies, Cade starts yelling at Bumblebee to do something or to give him a heads up or something, but Bee is still nowhere to be found. And then Bee suddenly reappears into view aboard one of the ships, but it’s very hard to tell if he’s suddenly back on the same one as the humans or on one of the enemy ships that are chasing the humans’ ship. I’ve watched the scene over and over and cannot make a lick of sense out of Bee’s vanishing and reappearing.

The chase ends with the humans’ ship crashing into both a Bud Light truck and a guy’s car. The guy demands insurance for the damage, and Cade goes a little nuts in his response, grabbing the guy by the collar and partially drinking a Bud Light bottle that he drops in front of the guy at his car. Was this supposed to be funny? Cuz it wasn’t. It really wasn’t.

Lockdown finally launches into orbit (which took about 15 minutes to do, despite Crosshairs saying “ten minutes” earlier) but not before the Autobots manage to separate a piece of the ship from the main body. Back at KSI, Joshua orders a relocation of their projects to their China facilities (for reasons unspecified since I doubt he doesn’t have any other KSI facility in the United States to move to), at which he will accept the Seed from Attinger. It is in this scene that a certain associate of his who has been in a few shots before is finally given some proper camera time in this movie: Su Yueming (played by Li Bingbing), head of KSI’s Chinese branch. As a character, there really isn’t much to her. She’s mostly all business and constantly at odds with Joshua for his lack of concern for certain things, due to his overconfidence getting in the way. The most she contributes to the film is three things:
  • A recognizable face for the Chinese audiences (since a large portion of this film was shot in China).
  • The fighting skills she makes use of for a scene in the upcoming final battle.
  • Some James Bond film style fanservice, in that she’s an attractive woman for audiences to drool over, but without necessarily being overly sexualized as a person (which is pretty tame compared to the kinds of fanservice seen in other Bay films).
Also, Joshua recalls to Wembley (one of the KSI scientists) how wild Galvatron was behaving earlier and demands to know what went wrong. I’m glad that he’s at least on top of realizing that Galvatron is not only acting irregularly, but even taking note of things like Galvatron speaking and such. Too many other movies in which the creation becomes a monster has the creator being too blind to see the truth until it’s too late, so it’s nice to see at least one character of Joshua’s type not completely in denial of the oddities of his creation, and actually taking a proactive role towards figuring out what’s going on with Galvatron. Or at least, as proactive as one who orders others (i.e. - Wembley) to figure things out for him without doing it all himself can be.

When Bee and the humans regroup with the other Autobots at a train yard, their time of momentary victory is squandered by exposition of MORE bad news (as if their situation wasn’t already bad enough in this movie). Switching back to Storyline B again, the Bots explain Galvatron’s true nature:
Optimus: “You humans… After all we have done… you don’t know what you’ve wrought upon yourselves.”

Cade: “What?! What is it now? What are you talking about? I mean, I’m doing stuff out of my league, here?!”

Optimus: You don’t see who’s controlling who. Within that manmade prototype I fought, I sensed the presence… of Megatron.”

Cade: “What, the Decepticon who started the Chicago war?”

Brains: “How’dya think KSI built those bots in the first place, hmm? They had a whole mess o’ dead Decepticon heads, and they were downloadin’ their minds! And I was in charge o’ autopsy duty. No union, no benefits, no nuthin’. They hooked me up to Megatron, and that mind wasn’t as dead as they thought. He fed ‘em the science and specs, all so they could build him a brand new body! Then, he infected it, with his evil nasty chromosomes. That red beady eye, hoo, got all’a them a lovely lots, oh I can smell it right now! Total inside custom job! KSI might’a named the body the snappy name of ‘Galvatron’, but that’s just Megatron reincarnated.”

Tessa: “You knew this and you didn’t warn them?”

Brains: “Little girl, you can go to a pretty dark place when you on death row. He’s been playin’ KSI all this time, all so that he could manipulate ‘em into goin’ after the Seed.”
Remember when I said I’d get into Megatron’s head later? (No, not like that!) It is now ‘later’ and I’m going in. (Stop thinking like that!)

HOW in the world is Megatron’s head still alive? I’ve already expressed how KSI has no means to give life to lifelessness, so they couldn’t have kept the head alive. In order for it to still be alive, it’d need a spark or a “spark substitute substance” (Dark Energon, AllSpark fragment, etc.), but we’re giving nothing to from this movie to understand how it’s alive. Back when Megatron was resurrected in ROTF, the AllSpark fragment was inserted into the Spark Chamber in his chest, and then Optimus tore Megatron’s head off its body in DOTM. So with the head no longer connected to the body, it should have been cut off from the power of the AllSpark fragment, right? After all, that fragment was all that was powering Megatron after the AllSpark did what it did to Megatron’s spark in the first movie. So now that the body is gone, it would stand to reason that the head is cut off from its only source of life and should not still be alive. But if there was some residual AllSpark energy within the head, would it have killed the movie to have told us this? It really would have saved us so much grief and debate over all this if it had.

What’s more is that it was previously acknowledged that Galvatron has no spark, so Megatron’s head didn’t give him one, which just further begs the question of how Galvatron is even alive without a spark or a “spark substitute substance”. After all, Optimus said that the spark contains both the lifeforce and the memories (which are aspects of the mind) of a Transformer, so without a spark, it stands to reason that Galvatron ought to be mindless. Same goes for Megatron’s head. Lacking a spark means it shouldn’t have a mind that KSI could download info from. Likewise with any other “dead Decepticon heads” KSI has. No soul = no spark = no mind.

And frankly, after the way Megatron behaved so apathetically and indifferently in the last movie, I can’t really see him wanting to come back to life and try yet again to conquer the world for the fourth time now, let alone go through this elaborate plan of playing Possum just to get a whole new body. In DOTM, Megatron was tired, sick of the conflict, and ready to give up after Sentinel had pretty much taken the spotlight away from him. Only after some harsh words of motivation from Carly climbing on him (something he likely would have never let any human do in the first two films) did he decide to get off his butt and do something. And the first thing he did was save Optimus (and also get back at Sentinel) and ask for a truce with his old authority job back, instead of trying to dominate everyone by brute force. He chose a diplomatic approach (if a bit skewed in his favor) over going with a more violent approach to get what he wanted. He was done with the fighting and seemed to want to retire from it, while naturally still wanting to be in charge. And even though he didn’t get what he wanted, his being killed still got him out of the fight, granting him peace at last. So I really can’t see him wanting to be rebuilt here just so he could try one more time to take over the world through force after having grown past all that.

After all this nonsense about Galvatron, they go further into the nature and purpose of the Seed, that 65 million years ago, the Creators used Seeds to partially cyberform many worlds (Earth included) and create the substance that KSI would later dub “Transformium”, which the Creators mined to make the TFs (and that that’s what Galvatron wants to do again, to create enough Transformium for Galvatron to make an army big enough to wipe out humanity). This is literally the only callback the movie makes to that opening scene at the beginning of the movie, which leaves a big hole in another part of the plot that is to come later in the movie since the movie willfully leaves this chapter unexplored.

And after all this exposition concludes, Brains just leaves, just walks offscreen, never seen again. Yep.

Cade breaks into a train to give them a place to sleep, and Tessa states that she’s tired of all the stealing and breaking in. Another small but nice character moment, as I like bits like this where the characters show they have a conscious and really do feel bad about the unethical things they feel forced to do to survive.

I also like the little heart-to-heart Cade and Shane have while Tessa sleeps, in which Cade admits to both Shane and himself that while he always believe he could protect Tessa by himself, he can’t do so alone anymore and needs someone like Shane to help keep Tessa safe. He thanks Shane for being there for both Tessa and himself, and Shane thanks Cade for not shooting him earlier. Cade notes that he’ll have other chances. See, this kind of humor is good. Nice, clean, subtle, and makes for great moments like this that add to the emotion of the scene.

The Autobots intercept a transmission informing them of Joshua’s relocation to China, and Cade gives him a call to warn him about Galvatron. Amid this phone call is this line spoken by Cade: “Look, I know you have a conscience because you’re an inventor like me.” I understand his reasons for saying this, but… come on, Cade. Bad guys can be inventors too. There can very well be inventors who don’t have a conscience. The two things very well do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

Act 3 comes to a close as the authorities drive up to arrest our heroes before they take off for China. Prior to their departure, though, Optimus declares that once they get the Seed, they’re done defending humanity and will be leaving Earth. I kinda have to wonder why they didn’t consider this idea way back when the alliance between the Autobots and the government ended. Sure, they might not have had a ship back then, but they did have the Wreckers and access to N.E.S.T. technology. So why didn’t they and the government decide to conclude the alliance by making one final project together to let the Autobots get off of Earth and be on their way? It would have saved them all so much trouble and would have spared them of the whole fiasco with Cemetery Wind and Lockdown hunting them down. Sure, we probably wouldn’t have had a movie in that case, but I’d bet a lot more Autobots would still be alive if they had all left a long time ago instead of remaining on Earth, vulnerable to Cemetery Wind.

The ship takes off to the tune and vocals of Imagine Dragons’ song “Battle Cry” …but then we see that Lockdown is very displeased that both Prime and a piece of his ship are missing, and orders a return to Earth, ending Act 3 and making this the first act of the film to not end on a sad note.


To be continued...
"When there's gold feathers, punch behind you!!"

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” -- C.S. Lewis
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Sabrblade » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:29 pm

Third part of my review


Now, even with Act 3 completed, we’re still not done with the movie. Far from it, even. There’s still a whole other act left to go. One of the many complaints people had about the movie was its running time being too long, which is understandable with it being close to three hours long. But what’ more is that, because how long the film is and how much stuff was put into it, it is not a three-act movie, but a four-act one. Instead of having a beginning, middle, and end, it has an extra long beginning, two middles, and a super long end.

Act 4 commences with Joshua and Yueming arriving at the Chinese KSI headquarters in Beijing where Joshua meets with Attinger and Savoy to receive the Seed. But, contrary to his previous phone call talk with Cade, Joshua shows that he really does have a conscience (lucky for Cade that he guessed right on that one) and is hesitant to accept the Seed at this time. It is here that Attinger shows his true colors, stating that he’s come too far for Joshua to delay this exchange any longer since Attinger has done everything asked of him and then some to get to this point, and demands to be given his paid dues of five million shares of the company. Though Joshua is not directly opposing their deal, he’d just rather wait until after the situation with Galvatron cools off and is brought under control. But as he doesn’t get a chance to explain, Attinger thinks Joshua’s double-crossing him. But all this is interrupted by a commotion downstairs.

Said commotion happens to be Galvatron waking up in all his sparkless glory, empty chest hole and all. And then he proceeds to do something just as confusing as his own state of being: He somehow hacks into all the lifeless KSI Prototypes and gives life to each one of them, without any explanation. When he does this, we see his body glowing with a blue aura of some sort, not unlike that of AllSpark energy. Thing is, though, we are never told what this aura is or how Galvatron is even able to bring all the Prototypes to life, making the whole ordeal into being yet another unexplained moment of headscratching nonsense.

Now, notice that I keep calling them “Prototypes” instead of something more Transformer-y like, say, “Vehicons” or something. Well, the reason for that is simple. That’s what they’re called in this movie: “Prototypes”. More specifically, the movie refers to KSI’s manmade Transformers by at least three designations: "KSI's newest civilian prototype robots" (by a KSI staff member), just "Prototypes" (by several of the main cast members), and "Brothers" (by Galvatron). They are not called “Vehicons” because they are NOT Vehicons. To put in bluntly, there are no, I repeat, NO Vehicons in this movie!

Several of them even do have distinct identifiers beyond those of Galvatron and Stinger. Like, this is called a “Trax”:

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This is a “Two Head”:

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This is a “KSI Boss”:

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And this is Junkheap (who, btw, is NOT the same garbage truck Decepticon from DOTM):

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The only things in any AOE-specific media that are identified as being Vehicons are the following two toys:

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Neither of which appeared in the film. Though their altmodes are based on the Rally Fighters and SUVs driven by Cemetery Wind in this movie, those were only shown to be ordinary vehicles in this movie rather than Vehicons in disguise, so it would be foolish to assume that the Cemetery Wind vehicles were anything more than what they appeared to be.

But, for those going by the newest Kre-O Vehicons that came in the sets themed around AOE, those Kre-O Vehicons are based on more Lockdown’s compatriots than anything, and those guys certainly weren’t Vehicons in this movie.

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In other words, none of the Prototypes are Vehicons. Nor are any of them even fully Decepticons, what with their being akin to the AllSpark Mutations from the first movie or the Appliancebots from the second movie, being Earth-born TFs of limited drone-like/animalistic intellect who haven’t willingly joined any political faction and exist only to cause mindless wanton destruction, regardless. Not to mention their having been given their own unique faction insignia in the “Ultimate Transformers Showdown on the official movie website:

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Even Galvatron has one instead of a Con symbol. The only reason his toys (and those of Lockdown and Stinger) have Con symbols is because Hasbro likes to put them on their bad guy toys for simplicity’s and formality’s sakes. After all, every Unicron toy since 2006 has labeled him as a Decepticon, when he really isn’t. Plus, the Movieverse Decepticons as a faction were all destroyed in DOTM, ending that faction’s existence for all intents and purposes. Sure, Galvatron could start the faction back up again later, but for now, his army is just a bunch of semi-mindless monsters that he programmed into being his servants rather than giving them the will to recognize and cement themselves under the Decepticon banner like the Cons of the previous films were implied to be. For all that we can tell from this movie, none of the Prototypes are ever identified as Decepticons here, so I’m not gonna either.

Joshua takes the Seed and is helped away by Yueming and Darcy (remember her?), who get away to Hong Kong, with Attinger, Savoy, and the Prototypes all in pursuit. Also en route are the Autobots aboard their commandeered ship, in which Optimus and Cade share another very good moment between the two of them:
Cade: “You said you were done fighting for humans, you didn’t mean that, did you?”

Optimus: “How many more of my kind must be sacrificed, to atone for your mistakes?”

Cade: “W-What do you think being human means? That’s what we do. We make mistakes. Sometimes out of those mistakes come the most amazing things. When I fixed you, it was for a reward. That was it. That was why. For money. That was me making a mistake. Without it you wouldn’t be here. Even if you’ve got no faith in us, I’m asking to do what I’d do. I’m asking to look at all the junk and see the treasure. You gotta have faith, Prime. In who we can be.”
For all that this movie has done to Optimus to give him a character arc, for ill or for good, this scene is one of the few that cannot be denied as being a fine example of this movie trying to do right by Optimus’s arc. Optimus has lost faith in humanity, and here we see a member of the people who have betrayed him trying to show him that there is still goodness in the world. As the Batman character Jim Gordon said to a young Bruce Wayne in the first episode of the new Gotham TV series, “However dark and scary the world might be right now, there will be light.” This scene is one of the very few in this and all of the TF movies that serves to remind us of the small glimmer of hope that exists among all the misery in the world, and that if we hold onto and chase after that hope, it can and will lead to a brighter tomorrow.

Though, this scene had another line cut out from it in the final version of the movie. In the trailers that depicted this scene, Cade’s last line was spoken as “I’m asking you to have faith, Prime. Maybe not in who we are, but who we can be.”

On a different note, this scene also seems to have a bit of a double-meaning on a more Meta level, as though the filmmakers are trying to speak to the haters and doubters of these movies, asking them to give these movies a chance and to not give up on them, for among all the things people give these movies flak for, there are still good parts hidden within, and all we have to do is look for them. And while this may just be wishful thinking on my part, it almost sounds like they’ve recognized that there have been some things in these movies that were less than satisfactory and are asking us to keep our faith in the movies possibly improving in the future. Almost like, we gotta have faith in not what these movies are, but in what they can be.

Or, maybe I’m just reading too much into it. :P

En route to Hong Kong, Joshua texts Wembley to learn how lethal the Seed is, and we get a quick bone thrown to Hasbro’s other currently popular major brand with a brief cameo by a Rainbow Dash plushie made of Transformium, which quick changes into a machine gun. Well, can’t blame the film for trying to be 20% cooler. Also, Wembley’s text tone is the tune of the G1 theme song line “More than meets the eye.” Cute.

In Hong Kong, Darcy exits the movie, er, I mean, exits the scene, for a while and Joshua and Yueming try to borrow a guy’s motorbike in a very awkward moment that seemed to just pad out the movie some more. What’s more is that the chase scene it leads to is likewise just additional fluff that felt like more stalling and included what had to be the longest open elevator ever. And with the lack of any Transformers in this, it makes one wonder what exactly is taking the Prototypes so long to get here when we previously saw just how fast Galvatron was in the highway chase/fight he had with Prime earlier, and he’s a big ol’ truck while several other Prototypes are fast cars and such.

Plus, it is here that we see Joshua shift from being a serious character into being Shane’s replacement as the movie’s new comic relief character, as he keeps hitting on Yueming and losing his marbles about the Seed being like a tactical nuke, and has a random scene of his drinking a milk pack he took from someone’s fridge on the roof, along with further antics to come.

Well, at least Yueming got her fight scene, along with some random bystander from the elevator. Though, she disappears after this point.

The Prototypes and the Autobots both finally arrive in the city and, as is standard protocol for these films, things pretty much go nuts from here on out. The Prototypes shoot down the Autobots’ ship, and I mean “down” in only the loosest of ways since it has one of the most horizontal crash landings I’ve ever seen. Attinger and Savoy go after the good guy humans to kill them, while Galvatron and the Prototypes also go after them to get the Seed. Two different sets of villains from two different plotlines both going after the same group at the same time.

This is another reason why the movie feels too long. It feels like two different movies that were mashed together. We got one plotline involving the Autobots being hunted by the CIA and the space bounty hunter Lockdown, and another plotline involving the Autobots investigating the KSI company’s manufacturing manmade Transformers with Galvatron secretly manipulating them. Plus a third sub-plotline involving the Knights and the Creators, which is only sparsely touched upon in here and feels more like a setup for the next movie. But looking at this movie by itself, those underdeveloped aspects do more harm than good to the congruence of this movie’s plot on its own.

In a way, it almost feels like how Transformers: Prime’s 5-part pilot “Darkness Rising” was, in which that also felt like two stories merged together. One involved Starscream seeking out the Autobot base, and the other involved Megatron’s endgame with Dark Energon Terrorcons. In fact, this movie, being the jumbled mess that it is thanks to the two plot trying to overlap each other, sort of feels less like a movie and more like several episodes of a live action TV series edited together as a feature-length presentation. With as long as this movie is, one could split the first and fourth arcs in half and reconstruct this movie into a format of six episodes. And, with a little editing, it might actually prove easier to follow in episode format than in movie format. Just something to think about.

Savoy catches up to our heroes and Cade has to separate from the others to lure him away. As the others make their way down through the building, we get yet another really unnecessary moment of gratuitous swearing, this time being the F-bomb dropped just for the sake of it. And the way it was pulled off by having those slow-moving elderly women all on their phones seemed like it was a framed specifically to get the word blurted out onscreen for a cheap reaction from the audience. All Joshua had to do was tap the ladies on the shoulder and let them know he and the others needed to get by.

Savoy chases Cade across rooftops and balconies in a scene that goes on for just a bit longer than necessary since it’s not only another human-centric scene with no TFs but both Hound and Bumblebee literally have to stop what they’re doing and wait for Cade’s scene to end so he can catch up to them, meaning that the plot surrounding the Transformers in a Transformers movie honestly depended on this human-focused scene getting finished up first for this part of the movie, even though Hound and Bumblebee now have the Seed in their possession and are free to take it to safety.

Cade and Savoy come to have a standoff in an apartment in which Cade fires a Chekov’s Gun to beat Savoy: He hits Savoy in the head with a football, just as he did to Lucas earlier in the film. And speaking of Lucas, when I previously suggested that the movie could have had Savoy kill Lucas instead of what was done to him, it is this scene in which Cade would have avenged Lucas’s death, instead of just getting Savoy back for just coming after his family, when he pushed Savoy out the window here .

At this point, Lockdown contacts a now distraught Attinger, who has had enough of all this and wants Lockdown to take down the Autobots by any means necessary. Also returning to the movie is Darcy, whose appearances in this film have been so sporadic and hasty that she has honestly felt like a last minute addition in every scene she’s been in, and yet still somehow manages to feel like a part of the movie. Also, Joshua makes a crack at Hound’s weight that Hound returns by flicking his cigar at him. Heh. But the main point of Joshua’s remark is to also let them know how powerful the Prototypes are, and that they’re gonna need some serious help in taking down all fifty of them. Hound calls Optimus to ask for help: “Optimus, what of our orders with these humans? Can I squish them all dead?” Charming.

Crosshairs likewise gives up on us: “Ah, this isn’t our fight! I’m doing bein’ an underdog! Underdogs suck! I say they get what they deserve! What’s the play, Prime?”

With about another 30 minutes till the end, the movie decides to squeeze in one. More. Thing. To really show how big it wants to go. Because reasons. With the Autobots needing help, Optimus decides “It’s time for reinforcements!” And he proceeds to do something that just raises a whooooooooooooooole lotta questions. He walks back into the crashed ship and, with the words “Recognize one of your Knights,” he pulls a sword out of a pulpit holding many other swords, causing him to undergo a super quick blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cosmetic change to his arms (JUST his arms). He uses the sword to break open a cage housing a large creature that we got an incredibly brief glimpse at earlier in the movie, to whom he speaks in an alien (possibly Cybertronian) language: “The legend exists.”

Outside, Crosshairs and Drift are flabbergasted to see four oversized newcomers suddenly with them. Optimus addresses them with some rather in-character dialogue: "Legendary warriors, the powers that created us now want us all extinguished. We must join forces, or else forever be their slaves. So today, you stand with us, or you stand against me." That is to say, until the last part, in which his tone shifts into an uncomfortably threatening one. Cuz, you know, threatening the guy you just freed from prison because you want them to help you, and who are twice your size, is always such a good idea.

Naturally, the biggest warrior lashes out at the smaller bot who just threatened him (can you blame him?), and both Crosshairs and Drift decide to sit this one out (smart bots). And apparently so do the other three warriors since they've disappeared from sight for this part. As Prime fights back, he tries to get back into character with: "Only together can we survive! Let me lead you!" But then the warrior shows his true colors by transforming into a giant fire-breathing T-Rex.

...

Okay... a giant fire-breathing T-Rex is cool, but... well, I'll get that in a moment.

Though, I did get a chuckle out of Drift saying "I was expecting a giant car."

Anyway, Optimus yells "Come here!" at the T-Rex like one would yell at a dog, and with a cry of "We're giving you FREEDOM!" he smacks the big creature aside like it was nothing (Fo’ FREEDOM, yo!). So much for that big impression. Oh, and the other warriors have reappeared at this point.

And to top it off, Optimus subdues the creature by holding his sword to its neck and declaring "You defend my family... or die!" And almost immediately after mounting the thing, Optimus pulls a 180 in his attitude with "Autobots, we're going to prove who we are, and why we're here!" which leads to Crosshairs and Drift having this little exchange:
"You just wanna die for the guy. That's leadership, or brainwashin' or something."
"No. That's Optimus Prime."

The other warriors likewise turn into dinosaurs, are mounted by Drift and Crosshairs, and they all "roll out!"

So, what exactly is wrong with this scene? Well...
  • Why did pulling that sword out change Optimus’s arms? Was there some specific need for his arms to look different in order for him to wield that sword? I know that it was likely originally meant to be an upgrade into his toy-only Silver Knight form, but what we got was just a change to his arms only, begging the question of why change just his arms at all?
  • What did Prime mean by “The legend exists”? The way he said it didn’t sound like an exclamation of surprise, and he did seem to know well enough what he was setting from the cage. So why did he say it? Is it supposed to be some secret society-esque code/greeting that the Knights used to address each other with?
  • If Optimus knew those guys were in the ship all this time, why did he leave them imprisoned in there until now?
  • If they and Optimus are supposed to be old comrades, why does he have to threaten them and subdue them to get their cooperation?
  • Why are these guys such primal brutes while Optimus is an intelligent being if they're all supposed to be from the same group of Knights?
  • Why do they turn into dinosaurs? It's cool, yeah, but WHY DO THEY TURN INTO DINOSAURS? They aren’t connected to or affiliated with the metalized dino remains we saw at the beginning of the movie, so just what exactly is the deal with their altmodes being dinosaurs of all things?
  • What’s more is that their altmodes aren’t even Earthen dinosaurs, but instead are heavily fantasized versions. The flying one’s even got two heads and two tails. EXPLAIN, movie! EXPLAIN!
  • Why are these guys being ridden like animals if they're supposed to be of the same ilk as Optimus? Isn't that the least bit disrespectful? I mean, Optimus is basically treating his old teammates like animals rather than people.
  • Why is Optimus so bipolar in this scene? Sure, he's been like this is previous films, but here the shifting of his demeanor from one end of the spectrum to the other and back again is so quick that it's almost played up for comedy! One minute he's speaking nobly, the next he's speaking viciously, then nobly, then viciously, noble, vicious, noble, vicious, on and off, on and off. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, PRIME!
  • What took them SO LONG to get these things into the movie?! Seriously, we've less than 30 minutes left of a nearly 3-hour movie, and they're only just NOW bringing these things in?! It is so painfully obvious that their inclusion was a last minute ordeal and, as I noted much earlier, Ehren Kruger confirmed that they originally weren’t going to be in this movie.
  • Seriously, Drift? SERIOUSLY, DRIFT?! Optimus’s bipolar behavior is NOT something to be admired!
Meanwhile, things begin to heat up more in the city and Hound starts to say some really silly things that I cannot help but find so endearing: “Stay behind me, I’m coverin’ ya. If I stop coverin’ ya, it means I’m dead. But that ain’t gonna happen,” and “I’m a wicked warrior robot!” John Goodman really must have been having a ball with his role at this point. I only wish the other Autobots were as enthusiastic (in a not-so-psychotic sense) as he was.

The humans then take shelter in a glass tea shop, which even Joshua points out is a pretty dumb move. Though, it’s pretty amazing how well that structure holds up throughout the remainder of its screentime in the rest of the battle.

Hound eventually needs help fending off the Prototypes and asks Cade to help shoot. Uhh, where's Bumblebee? And Joshua's fuss about his life being put in Cade's hands would have been annoying if not for Cade getting him to think twice about their situation by offering him the dagger gun and then telling him to shut up.

But then we see Hound using a yellow truck for a shield at one point, and it is so painfully obvious that he's not really holding it; in reality, it’s really just being suspended in the air by a cable or two, judging by the way it dangles in its movement. Hound's holding it only becomes believable when he later throws it at some Prototypes, by which time the truck is no longer a real truck but a CGI one.

Oh, and here's another lovely line from Hound: "Come and get some! You're all gonna die!" :roll:

Elsewhere, Prime and the others ride on-- okay, I know they're supposed to be the Dinobots (Grimlock, Slug, Scorn, and Strafe), but the movie doesn't really go into that at all. Anyway, the T-Rex (Grimlock) busts through a structure that was NOT in his way, as he could have just gone around it or jumped over it (jerk!), as they make their way towards the city.

"I'm like a fat ballerina, who takes scalps and slits throats!"
"Got yer fortune cookie!"
It's like every time Hound does something despicable, he keeps finding ways to redeem himself, or keeps doing something bad after each redemption, making him both equally likable and deplorable at the same time.

Bumblebee finally reappears from his disappearance only for Hound to have exhausted his ammo. But who should come to their rescue but Optimus and his savage steed! Aside from another "I'll kill you!" line from Optimus, seeing the Dinobots tear through all the Prototypes is pretty cool. And I'm not nearly as bothered by the massive slaughtering of the Prototypes in this movie as I was of all the Decepticons getting slaughtered in the previous films since these Prototypes are more along the lines of the Beast Machines Vehicons into terms of being living persons, whereas the previous films relied on Con cannon fodder made up of beings who were supposed to be their own people but were treated as little more than monsters. Here, though, it's justified since the Prototypes are, for all intents and purposes, soulless creations of pure science given animation through artificial means. In other words, there is no potential for characterization that wasted by the slaughtering of the Prototypes in this movie, whereas the previous films made most of the Decepticons into monstrous mooks and squandered their potential for being interesting as characters by having them all killed off before allowing us any chances to get to know them. A similar thing happened with each Autobot that was killed off in the previous films, but that’s a different topic. Basically, if the movies wanted to have this level of enemy carnage all along, this is how the previous films should have done the Decepticons.

Though, I should note that the music used during this scene seems pretty solemn and sad for the most part, as though this were a sorrowful moment of fearfulness rather than a crowning moment of awesome. Come on, guys. This isn’t the time to be playing sad tunes of sympathy. When you got giant robot dinosaurs tearing up the streets and fighting 50 footsoldiers, it’s time to crank up the soundtrack and dish out the most metal, most rockin’ good tunes to emphasize the awesomeness. Are they trying to make us feel wowed or forlorn?

Oh, and Galvatron pops up to remind us that he exists, having done next to nothing since he and the Prototypes first arrived in Hong Kong earlier.

And Hound shoots a hidden bullet from the back of his cigar at a Two Head. Awesome.

Prime orders Bee to "Jump!" as Strafe swoops in to pick him up, which leads to the long-awaited fight between Bumblebee and Stinger and... we barely get to even see it. While it starts off with a decent view of their fight, the camera then becomes too busy pretending like we're watching part of a theme park ride instead of a movie scene to really let us get a good view of the rest of the fight. The most we get a look at at this point is Strafe flying around everywhere and then crashing, followed by Bee destroying Stinger at the end (while also reminding us that Victoria’s Secret exists). And here we were led to believe that we had gotten past the incomprehensible fighting of the first two movies.

Though, Bee's radio line of "I hate cheap knockoffs," did get a chuckle from me.

We then come to the moment of Joshua’s completed character arc, in which he stumbles to find the words to explain/apologize to Optimus, and Cade steps in with “Maybe all he wants to hear you say is that some things should never be invented.” It is in this moment that not only does Joshua try to admit that he was wrong to have done what he did, but Cade also shows that he too has realized his own mistakes in all this. As Tessa had asked him if “some things should never be invented” much earlier in the movie, his original answer back then was that that was “backwards thinking”, but now he sees that he, like Joshua, was wrong to let his dreams cloud his better thinking. He’s seen through Joshua how allowing oneself to get caught up in one’s own ambitions for the future prevents them from seeing the bigger picture of things that really matter the most in the present. In many respects, Joshua is an example of what Cade could have become had he continued to allow his technological visions to overtake and consume his humanity. And by helping Joshua to see the light, so too has Cade. So by saving Joshua, Cade has also come to save himself.

Under the cover of the Autobots, the humans try to get the Seed out of the city via an abandoned car, and Shane reminds us that he partly only exists in this movie for driving scenes. And just when it looks like they’re in the clear, the movie reminds us of another plot thread still waiting to be resolved. The Seed starts beeping and the Knights’ Terminus returns. The Hong Kong military takes notice and (with one of them strangely speaking English to his Chinese-speaking compatriots) says they gotta call the central government for help. Remember this.

The ship activates a large magnetic vortex that starts sucking up various kinds of metal, including a car containing a for-the-Asian-audiences-only cameo by singer Han Geng. The Chinese government gets word of the crisis and the Defense Minister sends fighter jets to assist. Again, keep this in mind.

As our heroes almost make it to a bridge, metal debris from the ship’s magnet begins to rain down upon them, forcing them all back in a human-centric action sequence that runs too long without the titular characters of the movie (much like, but not as long as, the falling skyscraper scene from DOTM), and is especially rough to watch since the whole thing involves Shane having to drive backwards without hitting anyone or anything, instead of turning around real quick to make the drive easier for him.

Although, we do get an absolutely ADORABLE scene of Slug trying to dig his way into the ground to keep from being pulled into the vortex, but to no avail. I mean it. For a big ferocious beast, he suddenly became the cutest thing ever in his scraping the ground trying to hold on. So much so that I legitimately want Hasbro or somebody to make a plush toy of him. I WILL buy one!

Strafe saved him, though, but why was Strafe not pulled in during this part when he was directly under it when saving Slug?

After that ends, Bumblebee’s suddenly on Strafe for some reason (bet it would have been cool to see what he and the other TFs were doing in the driving scene, huh?) and there’s a random line of “I’m proud of you,” from Darcy to Joshua. Proud of what, exactly? Proud of pioneering in a robot uprising and dealing with guys associated with a space bounty hunter that’s brought disaster to Hong Kong? Cuz that’s currently what’s going on right now. If she’s proud of him for seeing the error of his ways and trying to make amends, now’s neither the time nor place to express it. At least wait until after he’s accomplished what he’s doing so that he can have actually done something to be proud of.

After Strafe crashes again, Optimus orders that the Seed be taken over the bridge out of the city, but the ship catches up to them and starts to pull up both him and the Dinobots. And with them all finally nearly within the ship’s grasp, how do they get out of it? Optimus just shoots the darn thing. I repeat, Optimus simply SHOOTS the darn thing. An action so simple that NO ONE seriously thought to try and do before now? All this time, they could have stopped the vortex with a couple of well placed blaster shots, and it’s only NOW that they think to try and do this? Good grief, that is dumb! There is no defending this. That is plainly and simply STUPID on their part to not have even tried the simplest of solutions until the last stinkin’ minute. Really would have made their lives a whole lot easier, and could have avoided that pointless driving scene, had they tried to take out the vortex when it first showed up, but nope. Our heroes had to succumb to a dose of Plot Induced Stupidity for the sake of a longer running time. Just peachy!

Oh, and by the way. Do you know what Bumblebee and Crosshairs were doing all while their leader and the Dino Knights were in danger? Driving along at first, and then just sitting there. Off to the side. Just waiting it all out in vehicle mode. No help offered from them, just sitting quietly off on their own without a care in the world. Jerks.

Also, Hound’s been gone ever since the scene where Joshua got roared at by Grimlock. He’s still nowhere in sight, so the movie’s forgotten about him, too. Wonderful.

After Prime and Dinos recover, he yells “It’s you and me now,” to no one, and runs off towards no one. Lockdown’s still aboard his ship at this point, which is now miles away from where Prime is when he speaks this line. As Optimus was only speaking in a normal tone, neither hollering at the top of his robo-lungs nor speaking via radio com, his line wouldn’t be heard by anyone not in the immediate area. So really, he was talking to nobody.

And Cade suddenly thinks that he has to help Optimus, as though he honestly believes he’s capable of providing some kind of actual assistance to the giant alien warrior that he feels he absolutely must provide. And all this time we were led to believe that he’d finally started thinking rationally, cuz he’s gone Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs if he thinks that not only CAN but HAS TO provide backup for Optimus. I mean, why doesn’t he just have one of the other Autobots or any of the Dinobots help Prime out? After all, the Dinobots were previously held prisoner by Lockdown for who know how long, so they ought to have first dibs at getting back at him. Wouldn’t it have been cool to see a fight with all five Knights teaming up together to oppose their former captor? That would indeed have been awesome to see, and could have made for a nice homage to Marvel G1 issue #8, with Optimus replacing Ratchet and Lockdown replacing Megatron. But instead, we get Cade suddenly thinking he’s LEROOOOY JEEENKINS!

As Optimus runs, the movie remembers that Attinger exists, since we haven’t seen him since right after Savoy fell to his death. Lockdown emerges from his ship and we begin the final boss battle of this movie, cuz apparently Galvatron couldn’t be bothered to confront anyone in this battle that he’s up and vanished from since his “They’re ruining everything!” line from earlier.

Meanwhile, Tessa, Shane, and Bee go back to help Prime and Cade, while Crosshairs and the Dinobots fortify the bridge to let Drift, Hound (who’s suddenly reappeared), Joshua, and Darcy get the Seed across to safety. And the fighter planes from the Defense Ministry finally arrive at this point.

While Prime and Lockdown fight, Cade moves in to try and help, but is confronted by Attinger who holds Cade at gunpoint. And here is where we get the last controversial moment of Optimus’s actions. As Attinger threatens Cade, he says “There are no good aliens or bad aliens, Yeager! It’s just us and them. And you chose them.” And then, even though his intentions were good, even though he did it to save his friend who was being held at gunpoint and going to be shot, the movie chose to have Optimus directly shoot Attinger. Optimus guns down and kills the human Harold Attinger.

I know he was a bad guy. I know Optimus did it to save Cade. I know Optimus had to think and react quickly in the heat of the moment. But that still doesn’t make it right. No more than the Man of Steel filmmakers forcing Superman into a situation that made him kill Zod. It is not cool to take characters with decades of known history that established them as people who hold the sanctity of life to high regard and then change them into going against their nature to take the easy way out in overcoming their problems. These are the types of characters who look for another way, who strive to keep themselves from going down the paths of their enemies. It’s a quality of their character that is admired by so many.

Even as far back as Marvel G1 issue #76, the Nebulan Hi-Q once stopped Grimlock from killing a demon of all things:
"Grimlock! I see your pain, but this is not the answer! Whatever the creature is--perhaps part of a race created even before us--it is still life! I understand you, Grimlock--I always have. Like Scorponok, you walk the fine line between good and evil, Autobot and Decepticon! Your mind is a perpetual battleground, your war a lonely struggle against your own nature! Give in to hate and anger and you lose! Part of you dies! But every time you find peace, stay the hand that slays, you win! That is why you must remember that whatever shape it wears, it is still life. And life is the most precious thing of all!"
This is a line that all of the movies could stand to learn from.

Though, sadly, this isn’t the first time that an Autobot has acted rashly by killing a human to solve a problem. In issue #17 of the Mike Costa-penned 2009-2011 IDW ongoing, a number of Autobots were being held at gunpoint by a small number of humans armed with special guns modeled after Megatron himself, and packing enough lethal firepower to do some serious damage to a Cybertronian. After the situation had been calmed down enough for the armed humans to be arrested, one officer picked up one of the Megatron guns and considered blasting the Autobot hostages right then and there, as he blamed them for all the suffering humanity had endured in that continuity up to that point, and felt it was his duty as a police officer to serve and protect the innocent by eliminating the ones he felt were responsible for the deaths of so many people. After all, to him, the Autobots were not people. Bumblebee attempted to convince the officer to reconsider, stating that each of his fellow Autobots could have easily killed everyone nearby, but didn’t because they aren’t murderers. The officer seemed to be rethinking his actions, but at that moment, Jazz (who had been nearby on standby in vehicle mode for all of this time) had grown far too antsy to take any more of this tense situation, transformed, and, seeing the officer that Bumblebee was just getting through to as a threat to his fellow Autobots, gunned down that police officer right then and there, completely incinerating him. Even when he was constantly ordered to not engage the situation.

And what’s more is that Jazz’s act of murder did not come without consequences. He was penalized for his actions. His was removed from active duty and denied any release into the field. His killing that human made the Autobots’ situation with humanity far worse than it had ever been, painting the Autobots as being greater enemies to the humans in the public’s eye than they were previous perceived to be. And even though he did what he did with good intentions, he later admitted that he regretted what he did. That his killing that human hurt him more than it did anyone else, because of how much he loves this planet, its people, and its culture. Yet here, in this movie, Optimus’s gunning down Attinger is treated by the characters as though it was nothing. There’s little to no reaction and is quickly shaken off to get back to the fight with Lockdown. And even in the aftermath later on, it’s never returned to. Meaning that it was only done as a means to surprise the audience, just like Superman killing Zod was. A cheap shock effect that betrays what the character stand for in an awful attempt to be “cool”.

And I still can’t believe that I’m pointing to something from the Mike Costa-penned 2009-2011 IDW ongoing of all things for an example of something done right (or at least, for something done better than here).

Plus, Optimus shooting Attinger to kill him just helps to prove Attinger’s belief right that all Transformers are evil and murderous. Back when the Autobots confronted Joshua at KSI, Joshua told them to show him their true colors, and Optimus responded by holding back the Autobots and having them stand down. But here, his killing Attinger only reinforces Attinger’s belief that the Autobots are killers who are only good at killing. It is highly likely that Attinger felt confident enough that Autobots wouldn’t be able to stop him short of killing him, and here we see that fully brought to light. Optimus failed to stop Attinger without killing him. He resorted to murdering Attinger, showing all that, even in death, Attinger was the real winner in this ideological conflict, further making Optimus look bad in the long run.

And it’s not like Optimus had no choice in the matter, cuz it really wasn’t his only option. What he could have done was shoot towards Attinger but not directly at Attinger, just enough to knock him aside without killing him, like how did to the Cemetery Wind soldiers back at the Yeager farm. He didn’t shoot any of those guys, but did knock them away by firing close to them. Optimus could have at least fired at the ground Attinger stood upon, which would have sent Attinger flying and possibly knocking him unconscious, rendering him able to face justice for his crimes in the aftermath of the battle. After all, as Mr. Miyagi once said at the beginning of The Karate Kid: Part II, “For man with no forgiveness in heart, living worse punishment than death.”

And before anyone says that Attinger deserved what he got after all that he had done to the Autobots, that is beside the point. Had Optimus merely knocked him out, Attinger still would have lost in the end, having been stripped of his resources and assets. And he previously stated that, if the Yeagers got the word out that Cemetery Wind was secretly targeting Autobots, that would bring disaster to Attinger. But if Cade’s and Tessa’s words wouldn’t be enough, Joshua could still testify against Attinger and likely bring up more evidence against him. Either way, Attinger would, as I said before, have to suffer the consequences of his villainous actions, meaning that he’d still get what he’d deserve had Prime stopped him without killing him.

After all, this also isn’t the first time that the Autobots have gone into hiding while being hunted by a government organization. I refer once again to the IDW 2009-2011 ongoing in which the Autobots (and Decepticons) were at first hunted by the organization known as Skywatch, headed by none other than Sparkplug and Spike Witwicky (in portrayals that greatly differed from their G1 cartoon versions). Basically, for Skywatch, Sparkplug was like Attinger and Spike was like Savoy in terms of rank and authority. And in this continuity, Prime’s breaking point came when Skywatch had killed Ironhide. But in this case, rather than Optimus breaking his moral conduct of not killing humans (like Movie Optimus had done), IDW Optimus had come to realize how ineffective and self-destructive his leadership had proven to be up to that point, and took full responsibility for all of the losses he and his team had endured. As such, he formally stepped down and resigned from his position of Autobot Leader, and willingly surrendered himself to Skywatch, to atone for his failure as a leader.

Though, fortunately for IDW Optimus, Spike didn’t order him to be executed--only imprisoned--and eventually grew interested enough to want to speak with Optimus, necessitating that he be kept alive. And, over time, Skywatch later decided to join forces with just the Autobots, despite public outrage. Unlike Movie Optimus, IDW Optimus was not overcome by evil, but overcame evil with good. But while there’s no way Movie Optimus would have been able to willingly give himself over to Cemetery Wind without them killing him the first chance they got (since the likes of Attinger and Savoy are written to be way more callous than IDW Spike was), the fact that both Optimuses were put in the same situation and yet one of them still managed to remain true to his essential values in spite of all the suffering he had endured (and, again, in the Mike Costa ongoing, of all things) speaks volumes of how much more easily Movie Optimus was broken than IDW Optimus, and just how much the moviemakers don’t well enough understand either the Optimus Prime character or what many people have liked about him for all these years. It’s embarrassing to see Optimus depicted in such a demeaning and disgraceful manner, when there are decades of other media showing much better he is capable of being portrayed.

Anyway, Optimus and Lockdown resume their fight and Lockdown manages to pin Optimus down by impaling Prime with his sword. Bumblebee arrives with Tessa and Shane, and Bee jumps in to fight Lockdown. But, while Bee does his best, Lockdown basically tosses Bee around like a ragdoll until Bee eventually disappears from the scene. It’s a shame that Lockdown couldn’t display this level of competence when fighting Cade, though, as he seems to get hit by the Idiot Ball throughout the rest of the fight. Time and again, he practically lets Cade make virtually every shot he takes at Lockdown, and he stumbles around like a drunkard with every swing he takes at Cade. Seriously, this is exactly like earlier in the movie when Cade was blasting through all of Lockdown’s ship’s defenses and security personnel with relative ease. It’s embarrassing to see Lockdown reduced to such levels of incompetence as he and Cade go at each other. It’s like his armor is suddenly super weak whenever Cade lands a shot on him with the dagger gun, so much so that Lockdown shakes and shivers like a video game boss with each hit. And it almost looks like he’s deliberately trying to swing and slash just wide enough to allow Cade to dodge his physical blows; again, like a video game boss. Lockdown was such a cool character and a skillful fighter up until this point. But since he’s fighting a human that has to win/survive this battle, he’s reduced into being little more than a joke in this scene.

Tessa and Shane manage to free Optimus by, what else, utilizing Shane’s sole talent of driving, and Prime kills Lockdown by impaling and slicing him in half. At least it puts him out of his misery from the humiliating depiction from a few seconds ago. But then again, it also kinda feels like they wasted his character, since he had very little screentime in this movie and now can’t be used anymore.

Optimus: “Honor, to the end.” - - Whatever you say, Prime. Whatever you say.

And suddenly, more Prototypes just show up randomly out of nowhere, with a Two Head pointing towards Optimus’s location. WHERE did these things come from? Shouldn’t they have all been destroyed by now? I mean, there was only fifty of them, plus Galvatron. Though, to be honest, I actually can’t complain about these ones still being around since, going back and rewatching the whole battle against the Prototypes, I counted a total of just 45 Prototypes having been destroyed, Stinger included. And in this scene, it looks like there’s only about five of them that show up in this scene, so the movie was actually mathematically accurate on this? Wow. That’s some sharp attention to detail! BUT, it still raises the question of where exactly these last few Prototypes have been all this time. And how the Dinobots and Autobots all missed them earlier. And like many other questions raised by this film, there are no answers given.

To finish off these last few Prototypes, Optimus sets off Lockdown's grenade and, at first, it looks like he’s going to try and shield the humans from the blast, but he instead grabs them up and… blasts off via rocket boosters in his boots?!

WHAAAAAAAAT?!!!!!!!

That came out of nowhere! Prior to Optimus's entering the final battle, there was not ONE scene in this entire movie that even suggested that he could do that! Nowhere in this movie was he even remotely hinted at having this ability, and his only just now doing it came completely out of left field.

And YES, I KNOW that it originally stemmed from an aborted plan for Optimus to attain his “Silver Knight” upgrade that the toys had, as there exists concept art for it:

Image

BUT, this upgrade was never realized in the final cut of the movie. The only upgrades Optimus undergoes are first his Trans-scanning from one truck to another in the desert, and then later his minor cosmetic change when he pulled his sword out of its pedestal, which affected ONLY his arms. Not his legs, not his whole body, JUST his arms. We can speculate and guess that the arm upgrade might have also upgraded the inner working of his legs all we want, but at the end of the day, it’s only speculation, not truth. Therefore, this flight capability that was leftover from a discarded concept has NO explanation and comes completely out of nowhere in the final version of the movie.

Elsewhere, Galvatron walks off, swearing revenge and reminding us how he was more wasted a character than Lockdown was, now reduced to “next movie setup” status.

The Chinese fighter jets deal with the Knights’ Terminus (by shooting at it), and Prime lands safely with the humans back at the coast of Hong Kong . The other Autobots are all there well, when last we saw them was either on the bridge or, in Bumblebee’s case, fighting Lockdown. Tessa and her dad embrace, recognizing him as her hero in a tender contrast to the more humorous embrace she gave Shane instead of Cade when they were aboard Lockdown’s ship. Cade also wraps his arm around Shane as a sign of acceptance towards him, bring their arc to a close. And Joshua offers to help them with their lack of a home, granting him an embrace from Cade as well (Cade sure is a hugger, isn’t he?).

And Prime sets the Dinobots free. Free to roam around the Hong Kong countryside unrestrained and without authority. Because that sure is a good idea that won’t come back to bite them in the butt.

And Crosshairs gives Scorn the nickname of “Spike”.

Oh, and Su Yueming shows up again (having been MIA since the “longest open elevator ever” scene) for one last bit of comedy with Joshua: “Did you miss me?”Her answer: “No.”

Before Optimus gives his closing speech, he gives another one that I think is pretty decent on its own:
Optimus: “This Seed belongs to our Creators. Whoever they are. There remains a price on my head. I endanger you all if I stay. I shall take it where it can never be found.”

Cade: “Will we ever see you again?”

Optimus: “Cade Yeager, I do not know. But whenever you look to the stars, think of one of them… as my soul. Defend this family, Autobots, as they have you. Defend… all they can be.”
In this bit, we learn that, even though the Autobots are aware of their Creators’ existence, they do not know who they are. Meaning that there is some leeway for the first movie’s claim that the AllSpark was the Transformers’ only known source of life, in that they acknowledged the AllSpark as being what made their race, while the Creators were something less known to them. Still, though, that doesn’t excuse their knowing of their Creators’ existence even if they don’t know who exactly the Creators are. If they know about the Creators at all, that still conflicts with their previous recognition as the AllSpark being the progenitor of their race. Sure, we could speculate that the AllSpark was simply the tool used by the Creators to make the TFs, but that’s all that is, speculation. And we were specifically told that it was the AllSpark, no someone else using the AllSpark, but the AllSpark itself, that made their race. We can hope for some better explanation/reconciliation to come in the next movie, but it’s all still wait and see at this point.

Another thing we get out of this is Optimus’s character arc having reached its closure, with the beginning of the movie having him start out as distrusting of all of humanity, but now he has come to see the good in them that he saw before. Though, in a way, that kinda means that Optimus’s development was all in vain, since he basically ends up being exactly the same as he was in the previous films. Before this movie, he trusted humans, then this movie’s backstory undoes that, and then the rest of this movie redoes what was undone. Meaning that Prime essentially moved less forward and more backward-and-then-forward in his development, ending up right back at square one. Oh well.

Still, the speech isn’t bad. At least we got one more “spark/soul” metaphor, right? Right?

Optimus blasts off to give his closing speech, in which he states that such mysteries as “who we are” and “why we are here” are not among those we aren’t meant to solve, and that he’s going after the Creators. Good luck reaching them on just your jet boots, Prime.

The movie closes with Imagine Dragons’ “Battle Cry” playing over the credits. It’s an okay song with a catchy enough tune, but it’s kinda discouraging with its repeated cry of “Nobody can save you now!”

And no mid-credits or after-credits scene.


To be continued...
"When there's gold feathers, punch behind you!!"

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” -- C.S. Lewis
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby Sabrblade » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:33 pm

Final part of my review


So, wasn’t that a great movie?


Well, what can I say? I am extremely torn on this movie.

On one hand, it solved a LOT of issues I had with the previous films. For once, not a drop of toilet humor to be found. This is the first of these movies to be practically devoid of the unfunny garbage comedy that positively plagued the first three. No accusations of masturbation, no sexual jokes, no getting “high” on pot brownies, no exposure of sexual body parts, no antics in the bathroom; it’s all pretty much cleaned up its act for this movie. Every joke in this movie was either legitimately funny, or not that funny for entirely different reasons unrelated to vulgarity.

And it gave PLENTY of focal attention to the Autobots as characters, rather than as set pieces in the background. They were as every bit involved in the story as much as the lead humans were. And despite that, Bumblebee’s exposure was severely toned down in this movie to the point that there were times where I’d forget he was in this movie (though, to be fair, the movie itself also seemed to forget about him at points, but I digress). And all of them felt more like characters than ANY of the Autobots from previous movies (well, aside from the twins, Wheelie, Jetfire, and Sentinel Prime, that is). And they were so likable for the most part (I’ll get to more of this later).

Speaking of likable characters, this movie had hands down the best human cast of them all. Cade, Tessa, and Joshua were the best of the protagonists, while Attinger and Savoy (despite their cartoonishly evil depictions) were passable human antagonists. And while Shane was a somewhat pointless character, he isn’t detestable or annoying, so I’m just indifferent towards him, and I’d rather feel indifference than hatred towards anything.

And Lockdown was a pretty cool villain overall in spite of his limited screentime.

And because of how great a presence the Transformers actually had in this movie, this is the first one to actually feel like a Transformers movie. It’s the first one to actually BE about the Transformers as characters rather than as plot devices. Though I’ll argue that the first movie was a better movie in general, it wasn’t as much a Transformers movie as this one is.

But…

*sigh*

On the OTHER hand, this movie is a mess. Plain and simple. As I’ve stated before, it feels like two separate movies smushed together with the plots of each competing with each other, especially in the final act in which the final battle could essentially be broken down into five phases:
    Phase 1 - Joshua and Yueming vs. Cemetery Wind
    Phase 2 - Cade vs. Savoy
    Phase 3 - Dinobots vs. Prototypes
    Phase 4 - The Giant Vacuum Cleaner
    Phase 5 - Optimus vs. Lockdown
The third phase feels like the odd one out and the fourth phase felt the least necessary.

But you know what? Ehren Kruger has openly stated that he wasn’t trying to make a movie that holds narrative structure and/or logical sense to any high regard:
How do you write for Michael Bay’s style?

Writing for Michael is very — he’s a very sensory director, and sometimes an “overload” director. He’s someone who is always looking to top himself, certainly from an action perspective and a stylistic perspective. So very early on we’re throwing ideas back and forth. We talk about sequences and visuals and moments. Whereas in some other films, or “ordinary” films, you might be very slavish to story and narrative first, and logical sense above all. When you’re talking about aliens, robotic machines which disguise themselves as vehicles and animals, you start to make your peace with the idea that logical sense doesn’t have to be the be-all, end-all. It needs to be amazing fun for the audience. They need to be swept up, and be promised that they’re going to see things that make it worth spending money on a ticket.

This film, and some other Transformers films, does away with, for example, some basic connective tissue between story sequences.

At moments it is quasi-experimental, yes. You have to understand, with a big summer movie like this, especially this franchise, [Michael Bay] doesn’t quite look at it like competing with movies. He looks at it like “should I go see Transformers, or spend a day at Six Flags?” There’s a big spectacle quality to it that he is promising, and that is one of the things that makes this franchise different than your X-Men, Spider-Man, or Planet of the Apes films. It’s something this series does that is its own style. That is all part of the package. Some days, it’s like writing a Cirque du Soleil show.

Would some of those quasi-experimental aspects be received differently if there was a name on the tin other than Michael Bay?

Like… Nicolas Winding Refn? Yeah, maybe! It probably wouldn’t have the box office. [Bay] is a populist entertainer, and he’s delivering spectacle the way that P.T. Barnum promised. Every time out, he delivers it. He pushes ILM and effects companies to do things they’ve never done before. He always wants to push thrills, spectacle, humor, and fun. Somewhere way down the list is “all the ‘i’s must be dotted” for old-fashioned narrative practices.
So in the minds of these filmmakers, logical sense intentionally gets thrown out the window, these movies are treated less like movies and more like theme park attractions, and narrative attentiveness is specifically shoved way down the list of priorities.

Can we not SEE what is wrong with this picture?!

First of all, I get it. I get that Bay likes putting emphasis on the spectacle aspects of his movies. I get that he prioritizes that above all else. But really, that’s the issue. To put it another way, he focus primarily on making the most delicious icing ever tasted in existence, rather than putting enough focus on the cake itself. But the cake is main part of the dessert, with the icing being the extra flavor. Meaning that Bay gives more attention to the extra flavor than he does the main body of his work, and tries to hide a subpar cake behind layers of additional flavoring. To use a different metaphor, he tries to cure the symptoms rather than cure the illness.

And as for the theme park ride comparison, it really does show in this movie, with a LOT of the action sequences relying heavily on fast motion and crazy camera angles. But for me personally, whenever it's a decision between "going to a theme park" vs. "going to a movie I've been wanting to see," unless abnormal circumstances arise, "going to the movie" will almost always win in the end. In other words, I go to movies because I want to see movies, not theme park rides. And, frankly, that's probably why I feel iffy about these movies and yet have zero complaints about Transformers: The Ride – 3D. That ride is awesome, as it's a ride that succeeds at being a ride, while the films feel more like they're trying to be something that they're not: rides instead of films.

Stepping away from the technical criticism, let’s take a look at some of the more characterized issues I have with this movie. Namely that the Autobots, while I admit to their being entertaining, they are HORRIBLE people. They are mean-spirited, cruel, and spiteful psychopaths with homicidal fetishes. They are the worst heroes we’ve ever had in terms of morality and honor. They may have likable personalities at heart, but they’re hidden beneath external behaviors and actions that go too far too many times. Especially with Optimus. What this movie did to him was completely appalling. This isn’t a team of heroes meant to appeal to everybody, this is a team of heroes for the antisocial! And that is pathetic.

And far too many things go unexplained or unexplored in this movie. The Creators are an enigma, the Dinobots are complete forced in and treated like we’re expected to already know about them, the new Autobots are dropped in on us like they’ve been here all along, and Galvatron’s state of being is just one giant headache of confusion.

Speaking of Galvatron, what a waste of a character. He gets one battle scene in the whole movie, instigates a robot uprising of which he mostly remains on the sidelines all throughout, and only pops up one more time later after it’s over, just to go walking away. If he’s only being shoved aside to return in the next movie, they might as well had just left him to debut in the next movie. What they could have done instead was have Cade call Joshua to instead warn him about the danger of the Seed, rather than specifically Galvatron, and have it be Attinger who activates the Prototypes when Joshua hesitates to pay him for the Seed. And when the movie ends with Galvatron being the only Prototype still in KSI’s possession, they could have given us a scene where Galvatron’s eyes open on their own, as a lead-in to the next movie, possibly having this as a mid-credits/post-credits scene.

And there are parts that are just. So. DARK. Like Lucas’s death scene that was just deplorable on every level conceivable. There was no reason for this movie to have such unwarranted levels of darkness in it. All of its darkness was down for the pure sake of it, lacking any real meaning in it needing to be dark. It’s like, these movies confuse “realistic” with “dark”, in that in order for them to be believable, they have to be as depressing and soulless as they possibly can be. It strikes me as though these films are afraid of seeming even remotely like something for kids or nerds, trying to be as gritty and edgy as they can be, like an insecure male teenager who arbitrarily condemns anything cute or silly as a shallow means to assert his manhood and "maturity", when in reality such beliefs are no less juvenile and foolish than the things said teenager condemns. Some of these things might even be more mature than the teen is without his realizing it since he’s blinded himself to chauvinistic false sense of “manhood”, just as these movies blindly operate on a chauvinistic, false sense of what makes for a well made movie.

For once, this is the first movie to have no supplementary material published alongside it, so we can’t turn to any comics or novels for any answers to any unanswered questions. We can only hope that the fifth movie goes further into the things we want to understand, and that it makes them make sense. But as Kruger said above, “logical sense doesn’t have to be the be-all, end-all.” :roll:


So yeah, this isn’t a good movie.


But…

It’s…

It’s not a good movie… in the sense that Super Mario Bros. is not a good movie, or that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie is not a good movie. At best, it’s a spectacle movie worthy of being considered a guilty pleasure to watch and does have a fair amount of little things to like about it. To be perfectly honest, most of the little complaints I’ve made throughout this review can be forgiven since they’re mostly just nitpicks. But the bigger complaints I’ve made are ones that I cannot let slide as they seriously do bug me. This movie is both an improvement over the first three in some regards, and a step down from improvement in other regards. It’s not as well structured and/or as sensible as the first movie, but it did give us better characterization to the Transformers. It’s definitely a step up from ROTF in terms of decency, but… Actually, I can’t really think of much that ROTF did better than this one (in terms of things that actually mattered in ROTF, that is), so it stays above ROTF. And it’s certainly not as depressingly miserable as DOTM was, but this one still does have some unnecessarily dark moments that are darker than DOTM’s dark moments. I’m hesitant to really consider it better or worse than DOTM overall.

But in the long run, I really don’t believe that there’s ever really been a theatrical Transformers movie that I would consider to be a “good” movie. Not even the 1986 G1 movie, as that was so blatantly an extended toy commercial that it hurts. Beloved characters are sacrificed for consumerist purposes, new characters and concepts are introduced with no explanation or formal introduction (save for Galvatron and his pals), and the storytelling quality is so different from kind offered by the cartoon itself that it’s completely disingenuous, fooling those who had only seen that movie and not the cartoon into thinking that cartoon itself is just like the movie, when the two are vastly different animals. But I digress.

Overall, this movie is far from perfect. Did I enjoy it? Parts of it. Will I watch it again? Can’t say for sure. Will I recommend it to others? Only to form their own opinions about it, if they’re curious about it, that is. It’s very much a movie that I feel mostly indifferent towards, as I keep finding a lot of things to counter the things I dislike about it, and simultaneously keep finding things to counter the things that I do like about it. It’s a movie that’s really one of a kind, and a real… piece of work.

But don’t let my opinions stand as an intrusion upon your own. If you like the movie, that’s on you. If you don’t like the movie, that’s also on you. We’re all entitled to our own opinions, and we all see and think about things differently.

To close, I feel it would be appropriate to end on a quote from episode #283 of the radio drama series Adventures in Odyssey, spoken by the character of Jack Allen (voiced by actor Alan Young), as it really applies to these kinds of situations when we review and critique things like this:
”I guess the important thing to remember whenever we want to pass judgment or draw conclusions is, that we’re all at different stages in our growth and development… The truth is, every one of us is at various points in the process of change.”

Final Verdict: Indifference.
"When there's gold feathers, punch behind you!!"

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” -- C.S. Lewis
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Re: Transformers: Age of Extinction - first reactions thread

Postby cyberwuss » Mon Oct 13, 2014 11:45 am

I recently watched the movie for the second time on DVD, was better on DVD than the theater I saw it in the first time, it had sound issues where I saw it first time, some other people mentioned this online I saw too so it wasn't just this one theater.

I was also able to catch alot of the action especially after the dinobots show up a great deal better than before.

After watching again, the biggest complaint I have is how much it directly copies things from other TF media, meaning situations.

Most of them were copied from scenes in Animated or at least heavily had ideas taken from Animated in them.

The main autobot cast aside from crosshairs was even alot like Animated, aside from Ratchet being dead and replacing Prowl with Drift.

MANY of the situations and lines were almost verbatim from either the earlier bayformers or a series like Animated.

Other than that small complaint of copying themselves I think I liked this one the best of all the live action movies now that I've seen it in better quality and was able to pick up alot more of the voices and action toward the end.

Seemed like a lower budget movie, like a sequel with an all new cast (thinking Robocop 3 here, or Tim Burton Batman after Keaton) but had enough in it to stand up to the other 3 films in SFX and all.

The most disappointing part of all was Cade's overpowered scenes, like when he was dueling Lockdown hand to hand at the end.

After comparing it to other generic alien movies though it isn't so bad as some stuff that shows up in other nonTF alien movies, and I mean mainstream ones and not even odd ones from 1970s or earlier that people have forgotten about in modern times.

The movie was better than I had expected, seems more and more like ordinary people and Hollywood are growing apart from the movies I've seen, in that the audiences are getting harder and harder to please and the moviemakers are caring less and less.

There is only so much work and time that can be spent on or go into these movies and so far with the 4 live action TF films I think they did a good job overall. Especially with such a small cast as they had in this one, as compared to the earlier three.

Got a better look at the "liquid" transformium transformations too, the biggest complaint there is Galvatron's new Dracula style mistwalking, where he just morphs into a cloud and teleports at will, seems like the Autobots will be done for in the next one if they make it, especially if Galv comes up with a way to make Stunticons to help him out!

@Sabrblade: can't believe you actually counted the evil prototypes at 50!
The coward desires revenge but being afraid to die, he looks to others, maybe to the government of the day, to do the work of defense for him.
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