THE greatest ever Transformers movies ever made was NOT made by Michael Bay. In fact, it wasn’t a live-action movie at all. No, the greatest Transformers movie ever (to this fanboy at least), was the animatedThe Transformers: The Movie (TT:TM) made back in 1986 when Bay was just graduating from film school and had not started blowing things up on set yet.
Who could forget Optimus Prime’s last stand and battle against Megatron; the awe-inspiring sight of Unicron, a gigantic planet-eating Transformer that transformed into a planet; Grimlock and the Dinobots kicking butt, and of course, the rise of Rodimus Prime? Heck, the scene where Optimus Prime dies alone is enough to make a grown man cry.
Sure, he may have made four live-action films based on the awesome giant robot toy line, but for trueTransformers fans (well, this one at least), Bay’s live-action movies don’t hold a candle against that little cartoon movie.
But still, the Michael Bay Transformers juggernaut rolls on. How can it not, considering the first three films have collectively made almost US$3bil (RM9.66bil) worldwide?
After three movies of awesome transformations and giant robot skirmishes spoiled by crappy stories, bad dialogue, and annoying characters, Transformers: Age Of Extinction (TFAOE) is Bay’s attempt to establish some form of credibility back into the franchise. Well, as much credibility as a franchise based on transforming robot toys can have.
In doing so, he digs deep into the Transformers mythology and ends up, er, lifting elements from TT:TM. From the origin of Galvatron, to some Unicron-like scenes inside a Decepticon spaceship, and Optimus Prime sporting his original Generation One (G1) box truck mode, there are some elements here that were definitely inspired by that TT:TM, and TFAOE is the better for it.
Anyway, on to the story. Four years after the Decepticon invasion on Chicago in the last movie (where 1,300 people died), the Autobots are no longer considered heroes.
In fact, all Transformers have been outlawed, and are being hunted down mercilessly by a governmental special taskforce called Cemetery Wind, led by the ruthless Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer).
Meanwhile, struggling robotics inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg, who is a vast improvement over Shia LaBeouf), comes across a beat-up old truck at a junk sale, and decides to bring it home and strip it for parts.
Little does he know that there is something, well, more than meets the eye about that that truck, and that he and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) are about to become the latest human recruits in the Autobots’ war against the Decepticons.
If you liked the first three movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well, as Bay gives us more explosions, and more scenes of giant robots killing each other – a LOT more, in fact, as this movie runs up to a mind-numbing two hours 45 minutes.
The addition of character actors like Wahlberg, Grammer, and Stanley Tucci is also a definite plus, and helps to elevate this over the last two Transformers sequels (it also helps that there are significantly fewer annoying characters this time around too).
However, four movies in, there is a sense of fatigue setting into the franchise, as Optimus Prime gets more and more colourless and less likeable as a character (Peter Cullen seems to be just dialling his voice in these days), and the Decepticons get more and more generic and characterless.
After the armies of undistinguishable Decepticons in Revenge Of The Fallen and Dark Of The Moon, Bay all but dispenses with giving the bad robots any semblance of character.
In fact, only three of them have proper names – Lockdown (a Decepticon version of Boba Fett), Stinger (only memorable for his cool red sports car alternate mode), and Galvatron, whom TT:TM fans will be very familiar with.
The Autobots, of course, fair a little better. Optimus Prime and Bumblebee return and they are joined by three seasoned Autobot warriors – fan-favourite Hound (John Goodman), the Japanese-samurai-like Drift (Ken Watanabe), and the cranky paratrooper Crosshairs (John DiMaggio).
And last but not least, in another fan-pleasing addition to the robot cast, we’ve also got four Dinobots joining the fray, led by the mighty Grimlock, of course.
Now, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ll know that Optimus Prime eventually ends up on the back of Grimlock the Dinobot, riding him to battle.
At this point, I was reminded of the ill-conceived “Action Masters” line of Transformers toys released in the 1980s, which featured non-transformable Transformers riding vehicles instead of transforming into them.
Back then, even as a young kid, I wondered what the point of those action masters were. Transformers are meant to transform after all, right? This movie gave me that same feeling.
What I loved about Bay’s first Transformers movie were the awesome transformations, and the fact that Optimus Prime and gang had more character than a dozen Megan Foxes put together.
Four movies in, the Transformers themselves seem like nothing more than colourless killing machines that hardly even transformed anymore, much like those aforementioned Action Masters.
As far as Bay’s franchise goes, Transformers: Age Of Extinction is so far, the best movie after the first one, with loads of action, some much improved action and dialogue, and those cool Dinobots.
But if you’re looking for a Transformers movie with more heart (and even cooler Dinobots), I’d suggest you go watch that little 1986 cartoon movie again. Now that is one Transformers movie that had the touch.