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Optimus Prime is Back – And on a T. rex

Posted by on Jul 3rd, 2014 and filed under Leisure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, rides on the back of Grimlock, the Transformer that turns into a Tyrannosaurus rex in the fourth Transformers film, ‘Age of Extinction.’

Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures
Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, rides on the back of Grimlock, the Transformer that turns into a Tyrannosaurus rex in the fourth Transformers film, ‘Age of Extinction.’

By Charly SHELTON

The Autobots and Decepticons have been waging war for centuries on their home world of Cybertron. That war spilled off their planet and into the stars. Since 2007, the Transformers have waged war on Earth. The Autobots have fought alongside the humans to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons, and benefitted from working together. But no more. After “The Battle of Chicago” in the third Transformers film, the humans have turned against all Transformers – Autobot, Decepticon or other. The age of the Transformer is over. This is the age of Extinction.

Unfortunately, the first three Transformers films featured a stammering, blank-stared charmer, Shia LaBeouf who was supposed to carry the story. Now salvation has come in the form of Mark Wahlberg. For once, the Transformers saga will be led by a human who doesn’t make you want to kill all humans.

The best part is there is no explanation of why LaBeouf isn’t in the film. Not once do any of the surviving Transformers even hint at wanting to contact him or even explain what he is doing. I think this is because not a single person cares where Sam Whitwicky is; we are just glad he is not here.

Wahlberg is a much better actor, and has a much better character to lead the film. A single father with an amazingly attractive daughter, he is struggling to make ends meet as an inventor and junk refurbisher. He unknowingly buys a beat up old truck, Optimus Prime. The Transformers are being hunted and executed by the humans, led by Kelsey Grammer in his finest role in years. Icy cold, he has no problem turning his forces on those Autobots who once fought to save us. But as we saw in the first film, humans can’t really kill Transformers easily. So they called in a specialist – Lockdown, a Transformer bounty hunter with no allegiance to either side in the Cybertron war. He was hired by the creators to bring back Optimus Prime.

Creators? Bring back – to where? These are all questions raised in the film that will be answered over the next films, a new trilogy of Transformers films with the release date for Transformers 5 set in 2016.

But I digress.

This movie is mostly about humans, unfortunately. As cool as Mark Wahlberg is, and as much as I would like to see a film where he squares off against Grammer, this movie is not called “Humans,” it is called “Transformers.” I want to see a giant truck turn into a giant robot and kick some other giant robot’s butt. And that’s exactly what you get, albeit briefly. Optimus Prime versus Galvatron, versus Lockdown, versus anyone. And to make it even cooler, put Optimus on the back of an even more giant Transformasaurus rex who turns into a robot the size of a seven-story building. Then give Optimus a fire sword and an angry attitude. Excuse me while I catch my breath.

This is so cool. I don’t care about the humans, I just want to see robots fight. You don’t go to a Michael Bay directed film to see great story, you go to see great explosions and fights. But there is always something lacking. For example, there is a shot close to the end of the film where Lockdown faces off against Optimus Prime in an oil refinery. Lockdown jumps from the roof onto a series of pipes spanning across a gap between buildings. The pipes are full of oil, and as he is falling toward them, Lockdown shoots the pipes and falls in slow motion. The shot is Lockdown landing on the pipes just as they ferociously explode and he rides the burning debris to the ground, falling, surrounded by fire and destruction. One of the coolest visuals in recent memory.

An anti Transformer slander campaign ran online earlier this year as viral marketing to drum up buzz for the film. Scan the QR code above to see the “news report” on the dangers of Transformers.

An anti Transformer slander campaign ran online earlier this year as viral marketing to drum up buzz for the film. Scan the QR code above to see the “news report” on the dangers of Transformers.

But he cut away halfway through the shot to show Wahlberg’s reaction. What?! This could have been one of the most iconic shots in modern cinema. It would have been his opus. But he cut away. It was still an okay sequence, but it could have been magical.

Thus goes the movie, where it starts being something resembling a solid film, and then realizes that it is deviating from the norm and resumes being terrible.

But despite Bay’s best efforts, the film isn’t too bad. Not because of his directing, but because you can’t hate Optimus Prime on a T. rex. With the awesomeness of the Transformers offsetting the human parts, it averages out to be pretty good. I will go see it again.

It was shown at the 4DX theater that just debuted in LA at the LA Live center. This theater, the first of its kind in America after a huge success in Asia, made the entire film into a theme park ride with motion seats, scent effects, fog and misters, air jets and more. For only a few dollars more, I suggest seeing it in 4DX.

Rated PG-13 and with a runtime of two hours and 45 minutes, I give this film a 3 out of 5.

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