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Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/30/2014

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/26/2014

We're all friends here, so I'll admit a dirty little secret: I like to peruse movie chat forums. Yes, I enjoy reading the opinions of other movie fans, and I've noticed a trend: Apparently people will purposely go see a movie which they expect to not like. Now, when I was a younger man and has less children and more free-time, the wife and I would go to the movies just to have something to do, and while we saw some crap, we never knowingly paid money for a movie which would expected to disappoint. And yet, plenty of filmgoers do this and a movie like Transformers: Age of Extinction is often the target of such weirdness. If you didn't like the first three Transformers movies, why would you go see the fourth one? I have no idea, but I sat down to watch Transformers: Age of Extinction, I did hope for the best..

Transformers: Age of Extinction takes place some time after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Following the battle in Chicago, Transformers are now seen as alien combatants, and the CIA, led by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), is hunting them down. Meanwhile, Texas inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), who spends his time tinkering and fretting over his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz), finds a semi-truck which has crashed into a building. He takes the truck back to his garage and he quickly learns that the truck is not only a robot, but that it's Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). As Prime calls his fellow Autobots to help him, Attinger's men attack the farm, and Cade and Tessa find themselves on the run, along with Tessa's boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor). They then learn that a company called KSI, which is overseen by Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), is building their own Transformers. This issues pales in comparison with the fact that an ancient Transformer named Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan) has come to Earth to take Prime into space.

OK, let's start with a compliment -- Transformers: Age of Extinction is the best movie in the series since the first one. However, that's really not much of a compliment, as the second and third movies were pretty bad. What makes this one better? The infusion of new characters certainly helps. Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky had not only grown very tiresome, but there wasn't much else which could be done with that character. The same goes for the military characters from those films. Series Director Michael Bay has toned down some of the odd, and often out of place, humor which he likes to bring to these movies. The notion that KSI is making their own Transformers is an interesting one and it smacks of "Why didn't someone think of that sooner?"

But, that's not to say that Transformers: Age of Extinction isn't filled with the same kind of problems which have plagued the series. The Transformers movies have always been too long and at 165 minutes, Transformers: Age of Extinction is the longest. And it truly feels like the longest. All of the films feature action scenes which go on for far too long and this one is no exception. The robots just keep fighting and fighting and you realize that if you've seen one Transformers movie, you've seen them all. Not only do the fight scenes seem never ending, but Bay also pads the movie with hero and landscape shots which are totally unnecessary. Bay has always had an issue with editing and the problems are glaring here. One moment, we're being treated to a sunset shot which goes on a little too long and then something suddenly happens as if a scene is missing. (How is Cade suddenly on the phone with Attinger? How'd he get that number?) The script here by Ehren Kruger is grossly over-written and there are simply too many villains to deal with. The new Autobots have interesting designs, but it seems weird to bring in a new group of robots. Where did they come from?

At this point, it's really difficult to judge the Transformers movies. They are what they are and people will apparently flock to see them. But, save for some minor differences, they are also interchangeable in many respects. Transformers: Age of Extinction isn't a mess like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but it's not a very good movie either. Something like this should be lite and fun and Bay manages to suck all of the joy out of it by having it just go on and on. The movie has its moments and there is a surprising death, but it also gets far too bogged down at times. As usual, the visual effects are seamless and spell-binding and I can only imagine that the movie looked great in 3D on the big-screen. However, when a movie has Opitmus Prime astride a robot dinosaur and it's not the greatest movie ever made, something has gone wrong.

Transformers: Age of Extinction never touches on the need for sensible shoes when fleeing from robots on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing on grain and no defects from the source materials. The picture shows off a nice crispness which lends it a notable amount of detail and depth, even in this 2D version. The colors look fantastic, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.0 Mbps. (This is a Dolby Atmos track and despite the warning, it ran fine on my non-Dolby Atmos receiver.) The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. I can safely say that this is one of the loudest tracks that I've ever heard, as I had the volume set about 30% lower than usual. The subwoofer effects are unmistakable, as they are wall-shakingly good. The stereo and surround effects are very active as well, as we are constantly treated from sounds coming from off-screen in the front channels, while the rear speakers deliver very clear and distinct individual sounds. Overall, a great technical presentation.

The Transformers: Age of Extinction Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras, which are housed on a second Disc to accommodate everything placed on Disc 1. "Bay on Action" (11 minutes) has the director breaking down how certain action sequences were done and his approach to shooting big scenes. "Evolution Within Extinction" (123 minutes) is an 8-part feature-length documentary which examines several facets of the film's planning and production. This looks at the designs of the new robots, the stunts, the locations, the cast and the visual effects. "Just Another Giant Effin' Movie" (10 minutes) is simply a reel of on-set footage showing the cast and crew at work and the staging of some of the big scenes. "A Spark of Design" (15 minutes) takes us inside Hasbro to meet the designers behind the Transformers toys. "T.J. Miller: Farm Hippie" (20 minutes) shows the actor visiting Wahlberg and Grammer to deliver an edible bouquet and thank them for allowing him to be in the film. The extras are rounded out by two TRAILERS.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long