We all know what these Transformers movies are about. They’re not known for being incredible movies but they have a ton of action, a lot of explosions, and usually a model who is somehow always covered in dirt but has perfect makeup.
The gist of the fourth entry into the Transformers franchise is that the world is pretty pissed at Transformers in general after the huge battle of Chicago in T3. So this government official (Kelsey Grammar) teams up with the head of engineering firm (Stanley Tucci) to track down and take out all current Transformers on Earth and eventually replace them with robots that are controllable. We meet a smalltown engineer (Mark Wahlberg) who stumbles upon a beat up old truck that turns out to be an injured Optimus Prime. He fixes Optimus up but is now caught up in this huge ordeal, as the Autobots must escape these death squads that are looking for them. There’s a twist, as we found out (relatively early on, don’t worry) that the humans have essentially hired a bounty hunter to take all Transformers out, named Lockdown, who has no love for either the Autobots or the Decepticons. He kills without bias.
This plot is actually interesting, as it brings in Lockdown, who is a much cooler villain that Megatron ever was. To make Megatron menacing, they always had to make him turn into weird thing. “And now he’s a helicopter with missiles and it shoots swords!” Lockdown is badass without any of that. It kind of reminded me of the Winter Soldier in the latest Captain America, as it had that same effect when he showed up to the scene. You knew things were about to go down.
Bringing in Mark Wahlberg was also a huge bonus. He wasn’t that convincing as an engineer but he was still likeable and it was nice to have a hero that fought alongside the Autobots. Shia LeBeouf ran away from the action for three movies, so this was a definite nice change in pace.
The human villains in this story were much more engaging than past entries as well. It’s nice to see Kelsey Grammar play a villain and he was great at it. Stanley Tucci was also (as usual) pretty awesome, so this actually made me a little more invested in some of these battles taking place.
The main reason you’ll want to see this movie is to see some amazing action scenes. Does it deliver? Mostly yes. There’s still the occasional problem of not being able to tell where one Transformer ends and another begins (so the fight just kind of looks messy) but it looked much cleaner than prior installments. The fights are pretty badass but it’s almost a case of Man of Steel, where it was almost too much. There were a few fight scenes that felt way too long or too redundant to what we’ve already seen, but some of you won’t mind.
What didn’t work?
The biggest issue with this movie is that it’s been stretched out to almost three hours long. That’s an issue because there is not three hours of content. I don’t complain about Lord of the Rings because it’s so packed with things happening. This movie could have easily been a 90-minute film and probably would have been much better. This means the fight scenes were redundant or too long and the occasional quiet moments didn’t have the desired effect but instead gave you time to look at your phone and check the time.
As a side effect of making the movie too long, there were some points that the story became unnecessarily confusing, by adding in twists and turns that didn’t really make sense. There’s this artifact they’re all looking for but the movie would have been solid enough with just a government vs. Transformer storyline, it got too bogged down in details towards the end.
There’s also way too many explosions in this movie. Things that should not cause explosions are now all of a sudden shooting off fireworks, it’s crazy. I got tired of explosions after the first two and a half hours of it.
Also… a big draw for this movie is the addition of the “dinobots,” Transformers who can turn into dinosaurs (just because, don’t worry about it). However, the amount of time these dinobots are on-screen is ridiculous. This is like how Rhino was marketed as a villain for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but only appeared in one (incomplete) fight scene at the film’s conclusion. If the dinobots are the reason you’re going to see this, you’re going to leave disappointed.
Here’s the thing. You know if you’ll like this movie. If you go in with low standards, knowing that it will be crazy CGI battles and a lot of explosions (with occasional forced humor), you won’t be disappointed. I enjoyed this movie a lot, especially the first half, but when it hits the 2.5 hour mark, your patience starts to wear thin. Overall though, if your standards are low, this movie would be a fun escape on a summer afternoon. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.