Transformers: Age of Extinction scored a $100 million opening weekend at the domestic box office, banking even more coin overseas. That’s a lot of money for a movie that the best people can say about it is “At least no one tried to murder me while watching it.”
In addition to making tons of money, Extinction has become Michael Bay’s worst reviewed movie ever -- 16% on Rotten Tomatoes – and for good reason. As the film continues to prove that audiences love big robots destroying things, here’s a look at ten reasons why that love is very misplaced. (SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie.)
1. Autobots Really Want to Kill Humans
Remember in the cartoon – based on kid’s toys – when Optimus Prime and his fellow Autobots discussed at length their desire to kill humans? We don’t either, but Extinction would have you believe that after the events of Dark of the Moon, these so-called heroes would spend most of their interactions talking obsessively about how they can’t wait to kill some homo sapiens. That’s what happens when screenwriter Ehren Krueger attempts to invest the robots with personality.
2. Trademark Logic Issues
If only Michael Bay’s plots could be as consistent as that string of tree lights that appears in every one of his films.
The story, along with its action scenes, are violently allergic to the physical and emotional geography required to make them make sense. Our favorite offenders: Why do we attack Chicago again? Didn’t we get enough of this in the last movie? In one scene, Prime is racing down a street in vehicle mode, and a beat later, he is somehow in the middle of a rooftop brawl we never saw the beginning of. In another, Prime frees the enslaved Dinobots only to later beat their leader into submission under the threat of death and in the name of freedom. Because reasons.
3. Optimus Prime Is the Worst
Optimus Prime is one of the most simple (in a good way) heroes of the '80s – the guy’s modeled after John Wayne – and the filmmakers’ attempt to edge-up Prime results in the character coming off as a 3-story, murderous gun thug. Inconsistent heroics and out-of-character homicidal desires drive a character the franchise has built as someone who, no matter what, sees the good in humanity even when humans can’t. Bet all the kids can’t wait to get their hands on that new Prime toy, “now with 100% more “killing the guy from Frasier action!”
That’s the name of the metal Stanley Tucci’s character uses to make his own army of Transformers. Really? Really?! Oh movie, you’re not even trying!
5. Most Unlikable Humans Yet
Mark Wahlberg’s Texas inventor Cade Yeager (which is a name that exists never) is a slight improvement over Shia LaBeouf’s Sam, but we question the choice of saddling the former with an unlikable daughter and her fantastically useless boyfriend. When these two characters do anything but remain silent, they make LaBeouf’s antics seem like a Golden Age.
As for Stanley Tucci as the supposed comic relief? Someone needs to remind both him and his director that comedy isn’t having talented actors yell ad-libs. That’s… just yelling.
6. Cade Yeager: Bad Inventor, Even Worse Father
We said slight improvement because the only thing Wahlberg’s character sucks at more than inventing things is raising children. He doesn’t want his teenager daughter to date, ever – so fresh! But all she wants to do is date! Clutch the pearls!
Conflict and lots of bad acting ensue, all of which stems from Cade’s genius plan to send his daughter to college by using his business partner’s money to buy a cab-over truck sitting inside an abandoned theater and then sell the truck for scrap. Hey, Cade? Instead of, uh, any of that, how ‘bout you use your business partner’s money to make a down payment on your kid’s education, sell your farm, move into an apartment and send her off to college?
Also, how come no one asks “why is there a cab-over truck sitting in the middle of an abandoned movie theater?!"
7. The Death of T.J. Miller’s Character
Silicon Valley’s T.J. Miller plays Cade’s aforementioned business partner, one of the few characters remotely approaching “likable” in the movie. But the script gives him a very hollow and unintentionally funny death. The script is unable to have its surviving characters take a beat – or even feign taking one – to mourn the loss, which ultimately denies the death any narrative value.
8. Wasting the Dinobots
Fans have sat through three movies to see Grimlock and Co. get ILM’d on the big screen. At the 2 hour and 15 minute mark, they get to see them – albeit in the form of personality-less things that exist to do to Hong Kong what Gallagher does to melons.
9. Aftermath of the Hong Kong-ocalypse
With the help of transforming dinosaurs, one of the largest cities in the world has been turned into toothpicks, by the same alien robots that not once, but twice, murdered Chicago. How does it all end? Not with the Chinese attacking their attackers, despite a scene showing military personnel ordering a military response. Nope, instead the Autobots and Dinobots stand at the edge of the city they destroyed for a happy ending, which involves Prime sending the Dinobots to roam free across China apparently like one would let dogs out in the backyard.
And there is no way that the Dinobots and the Autobots get to stand around on the edge of the city they destroyed for a happy ending – especially after showing key Chinese military officials order a military response on their robot attackers.
10. That dialogue!
We saved the best of the worst for last.
Our favorites? Cade, appealing to Tucci’s character to help them save the world: “You’re an inventor, just like me, so I know you care.” Also, his response to a ship-sized alien magnet: "It's sucking up metal and then dropping it!”
But all of that is Sorkin-esque when compared to Optimus Prime’s parting words: “When you look to the stars, think of one of them as my soul."