I’m a pretty huge Transformers fan and the franchise has been great in many areas. Comics, TV Shows, and Video games have all been greatly produced. The live action films is the area in which Transformers typically falters. I had some decently high hopes coming into the fourth film despite the first three because the trailer was pretty solid and it should be a fun experience. Well, it’s essentially the same as the last film so things didn’t get much better for me. The film jumps in head first and manages to fall into just about every hole as it struggles to the finish line. Still, the film had some good moments…let’s look at how things played out.
Everyone is still sad over the battle of Chicago and the world has moved on. The government has decided to start destroying all of the Autobots who are still out there. Well, the CIA is doing this and the President is unaware of the situation. (The government is very uncoordinated in this film) Meanwhile, Cade finds a truck when he is buying things to help him invent something amazing and it turns out to be Optimus Prime. Together, they must find the other Autobots and stop Lockdown. (Who has made a contract with the humans) With a film that’s around 3 hours, there are definitely a lot of subplots to help keep the plot from ending too fast. Those will be mentioned in the character bio sections.
Cade is the main character and he’s a solid character. He’s definitely not great, but he does his best to get through the days. He’s tough when it counts. He may have been a little on the generic side and lacked character development, but it happens. He’s very overpowered and it’s hard to take his fight scenes seriously, but he doesn’t squander the power. He’s definitely one of the only likable humans and without him the film would have been a little tougher to watch. He did the right thing in helping his daughter to stay away from guys for a while and while it didn’t ultimately work, you can’t blame him for trying. Cade’s a noble character and we get so few of those nowadays.
Optimus Prime is back of course and this portrayal of him is definitely different compared to any of the others that we’ve seen in the past. Prime isn’t advocating for human safety anymore and he’s not here to show that all sentient beings have the fight to freedom. He’s here to destroy enemies and leave the planet. It’s definitely a big change from what we have seen in the past and I can’t say that it’s a good thing. Optimus starts off the film in a badly injured state thanks to the events which have transpired off screen. The humans want the Autobots dead after all and with their primitive technology, they’ve just about done it.
This likely hurt Prime’s logic circuits and his first few scenes are all about him saying how he will destroy the opponent as he fights a (losing) battle against the humans. The feral Prime battles with Lockdown, but it’s more of a chase scene since the Autobot is on the run. He begins to regain his reason once he’s back in normal form, but things don’t go so well during his big break in. After that whole operation and seeing what was being done…why didn’t he wreck the place? Leaving it intact was a huge mistake and then we get to watch the heroes get beaten up again. They weren’t as unprepared as last time, but it can be a little irritating to see.
Prime then makes the right move to leave once and for all after finishing up a mission, but ends up making a controversial move. After Man of Steel, everyone loves to use the controversial card as we have heroes stretching their limits to see if they are still heroes. We saw some of that in Amazing Spider-Man 2, Xmen Days of Future Past, older films like James Bond and Star Wars used this as well. It’s pretty unnecessary, but not nearly as bad as Superman’s moment. It will hurt Prime’s portrayal as the hero a bit, but it wasn’t a terrible moment. Letting his guard down is another story. I also really disliked how he handled the Dinobot situation. Threatening them and then forcing them to help out is pretty uncharacteristic and it felt like a Decepticon move.
In the end, I have to say that this version of Prime may be the worst one that I’ve seen. He’s not terribly heroic anymore and he seems slightly more mindless. Not completely of course, but he’s always going on about how he’s going to destroy someone. He just really sounds as if he’s broken and maybe that will be a plot point later on. Perhaps not because his voice slowly starts to go back to normal by the end, but he was definitely off. Since the next film will likely be a sequel, it’ll be interesting to see how his character arc goes. I do wish that Prime had taken a more traditional personality in the film, but these things happen. He’s still the best character in the film (Which says a lot eh?) and I just had a lot of complaints about his portrayal. I do like that he took matters into his own hands and finally decided that the humans are not always worth the trouble.
Galvatron gets a role in the film, but it’s relatively small. There are a few twists about his origin and they were well played. I wish that he could have appeared more since his short appearances were pretty epic. His plan is decently well thought out and his minions being so weak was likely not in his calculations. Otherwise, it could have been the end of everything! He’s the best antagonist in the film and I was surprised by how cool he was.
Lockdown is the main villain of the film at least according to all of the trailers. In the actual film, it is a little debatable with all of the major human players around. Still, Lockdown’s a solid villain and he definitely means business when battling the Autobots. Since he’s a mercenary, Lockdown gets to make fun of the Autobots and Decepticons. Power wise, he’s high tier, but one of the weakest ones of that caliber. He would likely get wrecked by Sentinel Prime, Optimus Prime, Galvatron, or Megatron in a fair fight. His battles in this film were typically against opponents who were already weakened or against one who could get distracted. In a fair fight, I don’t believe that he would have done quite as well. Of course, power isn’t everything and he still looks pretty good. I can safely say that he’s much better in the film than in the video game. He’s one of the few likable villains in the film since he at least makes sure to have a motive and solid lines.
Bumblebee’s character is a whole lot different from the last ones. He’s a lot more reckless and he picks fights whenever possible. He risked jeopardizing the mission just to finish a personal vendetta. These are all great traits, but his character change just came out of nowhere. Also, getting humiliated by Drift didn’t help with this. Overall, Bumblebee was still a good Autobot and great compared to most of the other cast, but he didn’t feel like Bumblebee. Regardless, I wouldn’t mind if he kept this personality since it’s a lot more intense than how he used to be.
I really don’t like Hound and I have to wonder why they chose to include him when there are so many better Autobots that could have been in it. He’s the “hardcore” Autobot who’s been through his share of fights and now he’s very gruff and experienced. He shows this by shooting a defenseless alien creature after going to the cage and getting spat at. Hound completely destroys the creature and it was essentially an unprovoked attack. He definitely doesn’t make the Autobots look like the heroes with actions like that. Hopefully he is not in the sequel.
As much as I didn’t like Hound, Crosshairs may have been even worse. How he became an Autobot is beyond me, but he’s always acting like a Decepticon. He clearly says that he plans on becoming leader and he loves to start fights. We’re supposed to get back on his side when he makes the “hero” move to take out a few enemy ships, but why should that make me like him? He essentially had to do it as they would have blown him up anyway. He’s another Autobot that I hope doesn’t get to appear in the next installment.
Drift was one of the main Autobots in this film, but he was also wrecked. I didn’t care for his character as he was essentially a Japanese stereotype. He strongly believes in honor and he doesn’t resort to violence…except when he does. His only good scene is when he defeats Bumblebee in their fight, but even then I can’t say that it was very impressive. He barely even got a chance to use his swords and there was nothing to separate him from the others. He’s an excellent fighter in the comics and his personality is great. We don’t get to see any of that in the film. He just isn’t likable and I can’t say that I really care for the character design.
Ratchet gets a very small appearance in this film and it’s not a good one. Unfortunately, he suffers from the fact that the Autobots must stay true to their beliefs and stay away from retaliating against humans. Even so, I believe that he should have looked a lot better. At least put up a fight as you go down! The design also didn’t even look remotely like Ratchet. His scenes were definitely not enjoyable and it doesn’t help the Autobot cause.
Joshua (KSI head) is one of the big antagonists from the start and we get to watch his “character development” as he becomes a likable guy. Unfortunately, he was just too far gone and I couldn’t sympathize with him. I also just didn’t find any of his scenes very humorous. It was just over for me at that point and his faint attempts as being likable and emotional fell short. I just found it odd as to how much screentime he got in the later half and how we’re supposed to feel sorry for him. He’s not as bad as some of the other villains, but definitely bad enough.
Tessa was definitely one of the more unlikable characters in the film. We have another rebellious protagonist who makes things hard for Cade and she’s constantly lying so that he won’t know that she has an affair. At least she didn’t make “The call.” (You’ll know what “the call” is when watching the film. Let’s just say that it involves a whole lot of money!) Tessa was really just annoying from the beginning and it would be great if she could have been written out along with shameless Shane. (More on him in a bit) Making matters worse is her refusal to cross the bridge later on due to the dangers of heights. I can sympathize as I’m mildly hesitant to go to high placed myself, but I’m in the middle of a firefight…I would make the effort. Her character development just took her south the whole time. She was a decent character at the beginning and slowly started to fade when Shane appeared on the laptop. Then she dropped off of the character development cliff when Shane actually appeared. Staying out late and deceiving Cade just aren’t cool traits in a hero.
Shane is a pretty terrible character and he definitely didn’t help the film at all. Not only does he make sure to give up and essentially leave his friends to die whenever possible, but he’s really…stuck up. We’re supposed to take his side (I think) and sympathize with him because everyone only lives once and all, but I definitely did not. All of his lines were pretty cringe worthy and I’m glad that Cade gave him a tough time for the whole film. Shane should have just walked away and exited after his first scene. He would still be a bad character, but at least his appearances would be limited. His line about the mouthwash was just as bad as his other lines and I have to wonder how anyone could stand his “Cooler than you” attitude throughout the film. It works for guys like Gary Oak…but Shane. At least he (hopefully) won’t appear in the sequel.
Harold is another one of the big human villains in the film and he’s just as unlikable as you may have expected. There really isn’t any light at the end of the tunnel for him and he should at least expect that nothing will come of his plans. Does he really think that he will be able to just disappear and keep all of the money? I don’t believe that he thought things through and he just makes for a boring antagonist. Well, he also serves to bring up the moral aspect for the film, which we really didn’t need, but it happens.
James does things personally as opposed to hiring others to do the dirty work. He’s a decent fighter and he has a lot of past experience. In the end, he does get his own fight, but it’s out of place in this film and the fight scene is not fun. Michael Bay decided to make it ultra realistic and gritty so that it ends up being a scuffle that you want to fast forward instead of an epic fight. He’ll never be a likable character and I’m sure that everyone won’t even remember his name as they walk out of the theater.
Lucas is “The Friend.” Why the quotations? Well, in the Transformer films, there is always that one character who talks to the main character, thereby exposing that he’s a pretty petty person at heart. Sometimes, the character is just downright bad like Lucas. His first lines are terrible and I immediately disliked the guy. Haven’t we had enough characters who were attracted to everyone? Getting hit in the face by a Football was also embarrassing and his scenes get worse. He is supposed to be funny, but it’s hard to find him humorous when 1 out of every 3 jokes would just be in bad taste. Luckily, his appearance in the film is pretty brief. Tough to watch, but still brief.
As for the Dinobots, they were clearly added just to sell the tickets. They only really get to appear for a few minutes and most of their scenes have already been online for weeks thanks to trailers and clips. Worse than that is the fact that they just didn’t look very good. They were essentially mindless brutes who crave action, but lack skill. It’s cool for Optimus Prime fans to see him beat up Grimlock, but the fight is incredibly one sided. Prime just shows how slow and ineffective Grimlock is as he lands blow after blow. If he can be bested so easily, why are the Dinobots a game changer? It would appear that they are strong, but without skill and reason. Luckily, this is enough to take out the fake Transformers. The flying one was definitely the coolest design wise, but I can’t say much else for them. I expect much bigger things in the next film.
I have to say that I was disappointed in the film from the very beginning. Transformers’ intro for this film is one of the worst that I have experienced in quite a while. We start by getting to see an animal eaten and then a mass genocide where the animals don’t really get to make it. It didn’t get much better from there as that may have been the only big case of animal violence, but it was a really sad way to start the film.
The Transformers films have always had a lot of gross violence in them and I’m afraid that is doesn’t end with this film. An alien uses its tongue to attack one of the heroes and I’m sure that we all know what will happen as soon as the hero grabs the knife. It happens so often and it’s always pretty wince worthy to see the act. The hero may not have had a choice, but it’s the film made the choice to add the irrelevant scene as well.
How about the fight scenes in general? Well, the main problem with them is that there isn’t really any substance. The fights aren’t glamorous like Spiderman or expertly choreographed like Captain America. This results in really gritty human fights that aren’t even fun to watch and robots wrestling with each other. The human fight scene is just awful so I won’t really go into it, but it’s not enjoyable. It’s what you would expect from a film like 300 or a big war film like the Hobbit, not in Transformers. Then the fight scenes simply aren’t very enjoyable and I blame it on the effects.
Maybe Live Action simply isn’t ready to have large robots fighting each other. Every time they transform, the robots typically have to hit the ground or take a long time to complete the action. They just seem as if they aren’t comfortable as that size and every movement is an effort. A good example of this is when Prime tries to jump to another building as he’s being chased. His jump is pretty terrible and it would be akin to me trying to jump over a fire hydrant and tripping over it. Based on his size, the jump should have been no problem and easy for him. It’s as if the robots are just wearing robot suits, which restrict their movements and make everything stiff.
So, that translates into the fights. The only good fights in the film were really Prime’s final fight against Lockdown and also his fight against Galvatron. Even those weren’t amazing, but they were good enough. They were actual fights. The rest of the action in the film mainly consisted of just blowing up minions or car chase scenes. Technically, those two battles were probably the only fights in the entire film. We had a brief skirmish with Bumblebee and Lockdown, but it wasn’t long enough to be considered a fight.
That’s likely another one of the problems that we have here. The film has a lot of explosions and action throughout and it may have worked for another film, just not Transformers. I was waiting for the big mecha fights so I will admit that I was basically waiting for that the whole time and the rest was just padding. Unfortunately, that was pretty much all of the action that I was going to get. The film loves to show off Cade shooting the Transformers and the heroes “epicly” slaying the villains, but one hit KO attacks are never fun if they are around constantly. It’s like the Avengers film as they beat up on the aliens. At least we got some scuffles and a Hulk vs Thor fight before that. I would have been satisfied if we got more fights, but none of them really happened.
Horror films have a tendency to have the main characters swearing every few minutes, but typically action films don’t follow this. Now, Michael Bay is involved with the Transformers franchise and that could be why, but the characters are always yelling crude things whenever something explodes or they are shocked. We have the generic moment where the guy uses the “big” word and the audience clapped a lot. I could only metaphysically shake my head and wish that the G1 film would suddenly go on the air.
The next issue with the film was the….Fanservice! I really saw this one coming from a mile away, but it doesn’t make it any more bearable. We have the obnoxious friend of the main character who makes sure to be point it out and show that he isn’t a good person. Then we have the whole plot between Tessa and Shane, which is terrible. I’ve already talked about it in length so I won’t go into it so much, but it’s not cool. Naturally, Tessa is using the new fashion of super short pants that really do not even count as pants anymore. What is the world coming to? I could really go on, but you get the picture. To the film’s (Really) slight credit, there is much less fanservice than the first two films and possibly the third. So, the series is making some slight improvement in that area, but it’s happening too slowly. There really weren’t too many scenes like that, but the problem was that they were mostly at the very beginning, which really takes you out of the film as you have to try and forget them as soon as possible.
Human Empowerment is the theme that really helps to wreck the film. At one point, Cade gives Optimus Prime a speech about how he needs to learn how to trust humans again. Yeah…….no. No, that is not what Prime should do and Cade should feel ashamed for even mentioning that. He has no political power so he would be convincing Optimus to stay in a hostile place where the government will just destroy him at any time. Prime has already lost a whole lot thanks to the humans and he shouldn’t need to lose more. Unfortunately, we’re supposed to agree with Cade since we’re humans and all. I’d rather that Prime just blew up the planet or decided to rule it. Either way, the Earth would likely be a lot more peaceful.
Unfortunately, the biggest effect of human empowerment is that they look too good in the fight scenes. See, these kind of moments are added because it is supposed to unite us as fans. Many people cheered when Jaws was taken down and they did the same thing in Alien and Terminator. The problem is that it can be very hard to root for the humans in the modern films. I can safely say that the protagonist was likable in Alien and Jaws and the government wasn’t to bad so it was okay. Innocents were being taken down in Jaws so the main character took some steps. Capturing Jaws would have been a lot better and it would have helped the film jump up a few stars, but it happened. There weren’t really any innocents in Alien so it’s a little trickier and I don’t want to get too off topic. The problem in Transformers is that they show such a large amount of evil humans. These guys just want an excuse to murder sentient beings and they figure that destroying a Transformer will be fun. Thus, we get to see the humans destroy many robots and they’re sure to do it in cruel ways.
That’s one of the problems about being a hero. If the main characters had been 5 Decepticons, you can bet that the humans would already be destroyed. Unfortunately, the heroes don’t fight back until it’s too late and they’re never as advanced as the villains. The Decepticons always have some big weapon that they can use to enslave humanity, but the Autobot tech tends to be primitive in comparison. Aside from evil humans taking out the Autobots, we have the equally (un)believable moments of humans taking on villains.
Cade is the main offender of this as we get to see him mow down over a dozen robots. There’s one particular scene that is reminiscent of the Storm Troopers as he’s in plain view and all of the robots keep on missing him. There is no one else in this scene so you can’t make the argument that they are distracted. The robots simply keep on missing until Cade has fired enough shots to beat them. Another sad moment is when Cade jumps into the climax and he actually blocks a sword strike by lifting up his gun. I didn’t know that this guy could bench press several tons. The robot was swinging with full force and Cade just blocked it. That’s really unbelievable and it drives the human empowerment thing way too far.
The soundtrack is pretty good and Lockdown’s theme is easily the best part of it. It comes whenever he appears and it’s a nice theme of tension and sadness as you know that things won’t go well for the heroes. It’s pretty catchy and it definitely works for the film. The insert songs are also decent some of the time. We get a nice rock song as one point I believe and then we also have some soft ones that can be a little off putting. It definitely depends, but through it all, the soundtrack was pretty good. Not 5 star material, but definitely good enough.
I won’t even get started on the “rage” scenes where Optimus Prime and Cade fail to deliver. Every time….it just doesn’t work. I expected some more retaliation from them. The guy in the elevator who knew hand to hand combat was good and the girl with the motorcycle was a decent character as well. These two just got really small roles although the girl’s was almost big enough to be considered as a supporting character by the end. The lady who finds the bones in the opening basically vanishes so I can’t say that she got much of a role either. It was essentially filler since the Dinobots weren’t there. Then again, this film had a whole lot of filler so that it could get around 3 hours. All you need to do is look at the scene where a man asks if Cade has insurance…nuff said.
The film did have a moment of brilliance as one of Hasbro’s biggest franchises of all time got to make a cameo. MLP…Yes, My Little Pony:Friendship is Magic got a cameo as Rainbow Dash entered the stage. It was pretty intense and fans of the series will either like the cameo or feel that it is parodying the whole Brony issue. I won’t get into that here of course, but I’m sure that it was the latter since Bay loves to throw in stereotypes whenever possible. It was still nice to see Rainbow Dash get included though.
Overall, my hopes for this film were shattered. I just barely didn’t give it a negative rating as the film had so many flaws. I’m a pretty huge Transformers fan if I do say so myself and seeing this version of it can be unsettling. They essentially wrecked Optimus Prime and Drift. The Transformers look very weak since simple armaments can take them down for the count. The Dinobots were essentially thrown in at the last minute and the film still had some of the usual (terrible) humor and fanservice. Most of the characters were downright unlikable and the action wasn’t really enjoyable. Lockdown, Prime, Galvatron, Case, and the soundtrack helped the film to stay afloat. Believe it or not, I still have high hopes that future Transformers films can be good, but I believe that they will have to change a lot of the current roster. Getting a new director and writer would be a very good start and it should be a remake. This continuity needs to end! The ending for the film is decent thanks to the fact that it could help the sequel if we follow the big plot, but I have a feeling that it will be ignored and the next film will be on Earth again. I certainly hope not. Either way, the film was really long so there isn’t any replay value and I would definitely not recommend this film to anyone. (There isn’t even an after credits scene) If you want a good Transformers film, check out the original animated one. Now that was a film!