While Transformers: Age of Extinction opened to big numbers during its preview night screenings, pulling in $8.7 million, it is the lowest debut of the four movies, and it was also bested by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Godzilla earlier in the year. It's also receiving abysmal reviews across the board, with a 16% Score on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics don't just hate the movie, they loath it with a passion unseen in quite some time. Fans, on the other hand, have been across the board. Some love it, some like it and others are quite bothered by its lack of coherency. But that's become a franchise staple at this point. No surprise there. Despite its detractors, Transformers 4 still has a lot going for it. It's the best written movie out of the saga, and it is certainly bigger, bolder and packed with more action than anything that's come before it. But the movie also has some pretty big issues. Director Michael Bay doesn't care. He says let the haters hate!
"They love to hate, and I don't care; let them hate. They're still going to see the movie! I think it's good to get a little tension. Very good. I used to get bothered by it, but I think it's good to get the dialogue going. It makes me think, and it keeps me on my toes, so it's good."
Okay, with that being the case, here are the six biggest problems with Transformers: Age of Extinction! Maybe he'll listen before these same issues begin to plague Transformers 5, which is already set for a 2016 release.
1 The Late Arrival of the Dinobots
Many fans who abandoned the franchise after three lackluster installments were pulled back into the fold purely on the idea that director Michael Bay was ready to introduce the Dinobots, fan favorite characters since the late 80s. Well, as they sat down in their seats, they didn't realize the wait was going to continue on well into the third act of the movie. While we do get to see some real dinosaurs in the sequel's opening salvo, its not until the 2:20 mark that the Dinobots make their first appearance known in the movie. This happens right at the moment most kids will have to pee. Its almost as if the maniacal Michael Bay planned it that way. And while the wait is a long one if you're showing up just to see Grimlock on the big screen in action, you may be disappointed by his eventual reveal, as no character service is done at all. And the other handful of Dinobots are barely introduced or mentioned by name. Grimlock is a strong presence and fierce leader in the comics and animated series. Here, he's turned into Optimus Prime's bitch! The Dinobots merely show up for the climatic end battle to chomp on GoBot knock-offs, breath fire, and put the Dolby sound system to work. But then they are freed into the wild to roam Hong Kong at their leisure. While Optimus Prime claims they are the greatest warriors in the galaxy, we don't see too much of that prowess on display. Maybe Michael Bay is saving their best moves for Transformers 5.
2 Trading Decepticons for GoBots while Giving Galvatron Short Screen Time
Not only did Michael Bay keep his promise to bring Dinobots in for Transformers: Age of Extinction, but he also introduces Galvatron to the live action franchise...And then refuses to give him any substantial screen time. True, Galvatron, the reincarnated embodiment of Megatron, does get a pretty decent fight scene as he goes up against Prime in the middle of the highway, with Nicola Peltz trapped between their stomping feet. But then he's shuffled off into the distance as bounty hunter Lockdown takes over as the main villain (it should be noted that Lockdown actually has Megatron's old transformering abilities that allow him to shapeshift into a massive gun cannon that sprouts out of his face). Galvatron is never seen as a true Decepticon. There are no Decepticons in the movie except for the occasional severed head. Instead, our five main Autobots and their Dinobot companions face off against a squad of GoBot wannabes. Yes, Trans4ormers is as close to a GoBots movie as we're likely to get, with Stanley Tucci's billionaire inventive creating a team of knock-offs that don't stand a chance against Bumblebee and his pals. Made from Transformium and possessing a new transformation ability that far succeeds the Autobots, this army of cheap Santee Alley rejects are no Decepticons. At least the end of the movie promises we'll see the return of Galvatron, as he stomps into the hillside, heading towards the nearest payphone to call up his old Decepticon pals hiding in space.
3 Confusing Action and Transformation Scenes
Transformers: Age of Extinction has some of the biggest, craziest action set pieces ever committed to celluloid. And in 3D, they are a wonder to behold. But for every awesome moment, there is another moment that is just as confusing or out of place. And it's often time hard to tell what's happening, or what just happened. Which is the earmark of the franchise at this point. But it's a blurry mess of madness that will make your head rupture, splitting open your eyeballs and leaking them on the ground. I'm pretty sure we never see Hound, played by the great John Goodman actually transform. Maybe he's just too fat? And early on, there is a rooftop chase between Lockdown and Prime that seems to be edited into the wrong part of the movie. But its not. One minute we see them as vehicles (Lockdown is a badass sports car and a gun!), then suddenly and without explanation, they are robots running across rooftops. It's just an example of some of the confusing action scenes yet to come later on in the movie. The only thing to do is hold on and take it face first. This is what Michael Bay is known for. And while it may leave you shaking your head, it certainly doesn't go against what we've seen in the previous three movies. Who needs coherent editing in a movie where the main story is strewn all over the map?
4 The Early Dismissal of T.J. Miller
Remember Bernie Mac in the original Transformers? He was funny. But he was quickly shunted off screen to make way for more juvenile humor that didn't really click with older fans. Michael Bay promised he'd get rid of the goofy jokes for this new sequel, and he did for the most part. But Transformers: Age of Extinction still wants to be funny. And most of the best laughs come early on from comedian T.J. Miller. It helps that he's not improvising every line, like the actors were forced to do in previous installments. He has a likeable, breezy quality, and his one liners aren't as annoying as the one's zinged off by Sam Witwicki's parents. It feels like he might be around awhile, and he's a welcome human cast addition in a world where robots dominate. But Michael Bay has another agenda at hand. It wants to prove to hardcore fans that he's done with the laughs, and proves this by burning poor T.J. Miller to a crisp. And then lingering on his pitch black corpse, its eyeballs and teeth dangling out, for a very long time. The scene itself is to be cheered, and it brings a little of that 80s doom and gloom back into a kiddy franchise. This shit ain't soft! But we like the character. Why did it have to be T.J.? There are a lot of other characters that we would have rather seen meet this fate. They deserved it more. The problem here is that Michael Bay picked the wrong person to be the comic relief, so his act of obliterating that comic relief as a sign to fans that he's done with the laughs doesn't work. It's actually miscasting. He needed to have someone like John Leguizamo or Whoopi Goldberg in there. Someone irritating and not funny whipping off one-liners. Then maybe we would have cheered the death of goofy humor in the franchise. Here, it just comes off as gruesome.
5 Return of the Racist Robots
Have there ever been two more racist robots than Mudflap and Skidmark in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Michael Bay came under a lot of heat for these racially stereotypical depiction of Urban culture. He didn't care about the backlash, though, and continued on with his race baiting shenanigans in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. People thought he was done with these bold caricatures moving into Transformers: Age of Extinction. But nope. Drift is a Japanese robot that dresses like a samurai, calls Prime Sensei and has a thick accent. And Brains returns to continue his shuck and jive watermelon dance, even proclaiming that old slave mantra 'Free at Last!' Its pretty funny that Michael Bay refuses to let this go. Even Crosshairs can't help but sound ghetto in his delivery of most lines. It's a signature of the series that hilariously continues on.
6 Freedom isn't Free When It Comes to Optimus Prime
Optimus Prime is a real dick in this movie. And he has some pretty skewed ideas about freedom, which many critics are calling into question. Some even think that the movie supports the idealisms of the Tea Party movement, and that this sequel as a whole is an excessive piece of pro-gun propaganda being sold to little kids. That's hard to argue against in some respects, especially when the hero drives a truck with an 'I heart Ammo' bumper sticker, and only becomes empowered and able to stop evil when he has a giant alien weapon hot-wielded to his hand. The movie is full of gun violence, and I don't begrudge it that. I love action movies just as much as the next guy. Its Optimus Prime's views on freedom that have many worried! When he first unchains the Dinobots, he claims they will have their long desired Freedom. But only if they help him win his war. If they don't help Optimus Prime defeat the enemy, he will kill them all! How's that for freedom? When did Prime become a dictator? It's a weird political message to shove into a movie primarily aimed at kids. But you have to love Transformers: Age of Extinction's tenacity!
What parts did or didn't work for you? Did you love Transformers: Age of Extinction? Or did you loathe it to the core? We're hearing many mixed reviews. Even though I'm here pointing out some of the film's mistakes...I still greatly enjoyed the movie and believe its one of the summer's best bargains! See it for yourself and decide!