Blinding shots of the sunset? Check. Slow-motion vehicle-exiting? Check. Upward shots of girls in skimpy outfits? Check. Military caravans? Check. Ok, you get the picture. It’s Michael Bay’s fourth installment of Transformers!! It has everything else you’d expect from the franchise that just won’t die: Wise-cracking robots, not-so-subtle racial stereotypes (this time we get to see Bay’s take on Asian robots, as well), Peter Cullen’s voice-over work using nothing but seemingly out-of-context one-liners, and Bumblebee’s stupid radio voice. Actually, as far as Bumblebee’s voice is concerned, if you saw the movie in the same theater I did, I was the guy who yelled, “STILL!?!?!?” when he first speaks. Sorry about that. But at least I still am not as annoying as the cellophane candy wrappers being opened all around you. The movie picks up a few years after Dark of the Moon. Autobots and Decepticons alike are being hunted by a black ops unit headed by a very evil Kelsey Grammar. See, he doesn’t trust those robots anymore because of the destruction of our cities during the battles, so he decides that in order to preserve peace on earth, he needs to highten our military’s defenses at all costs (yeah, you’ve heard this song and dance before— Captain America: Winter Soldier, perhaps…). This defense system also includes creating our own Transformers to patrol the earth to provide law and order (2014’s Robocop, anyone?). These new Transformers are being built by Stanley Tucci doing a blatant Steve Jobs impersonation out of something collected from the earlier battles. A new metal known as… get this…. Transformium. No, that is not a typo. It made me wonder what you’d get if you mixed Bay’s Transformium with James Cameron’s Unobtainium. Billions of dollars at the box office, that’s what!
Mark “Funky Bunch” Wahlberg plays a Texas inventor/ widower who lives with his teenage, rebellious, daughter and is facing eviction from his farm house. It turns out that guys who are smart enough to build robots in their garages just can’t seem to make any money in Texas. When Cade Yeager (Wahlberg) stumbles upon an old, rusty abandoned semi-truck, his attempts at stripping it for parts to make money to pay for his daughter’s prom dress, or something, he discovers that it is actually a disguised Optimus Prime! When Yeagar and his daughter, and his surfer friend suddenly replaced by the daughter’s boyfriend find themselves on the run from a robot-hunting black ops team for harboring a “terrorist,” Prime calls the remaining Autobots to help rescue the family AND stop world-wide destruction at the hands of a new human-created Decepticon possessed by a familiar old enemy. Fans of the animated 1986 Transformers: The Movie (and who isn’t?) will recognize this enemy, albeit with a total bastardized origin story, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise at this point in the series.
Fan favorites, the Dinobots make a brief appearance because, well, the fans have been demanding it at least since the second movie, Revenge of the Fallen, which I’m told was ONLY a bad movie because of the writers’ strike… (Actually, I remember seeing that movie, for one reason or another, like, 5 times the summer it was released, and I really didn’t think it was all that bad, personally…). There isn’t really any good explaination for the Dinobots’ appearance, but I’m not sure I was really expecting one, since the overall pace of the film didn’t lend itself to much stop-to-catch-a-breath exposition. After a brief beatdown by Optimus Prime himself, the Dinobots ally themselves with the Autobots for a few minutes, which leads to what may be the most fun climax of the series up to this point. Just all-out robot mayhem. Just like the last three Transformers films, we are given an Optimus Prime-narrated cliffhanger. Because, well, why stop at four movies? There are toys to be made and products to be prominently displayed on screen! Be on the lookout for a quick Oreo Transformer cameo. Much like the previous sequels to 2007’s Transformers, the movie is visually the same movie filmed from a different angle. It’s not bad, but then again it’s not a masterpiece, either. Make sure you stay good and dehydrated before going into the theater, though. At three hours long, you’ll wish you didn’t buy that extra large $5 bottle of water.