‘Transformers 4′ Early Reviews: Fresh Start or More of the Lame?

Published 11 months ago by , Updated June 23rd, 2014 at 9:07 pm,

transformers 4 trailer 2 optimus prime Transformers 4 Early Reviews: Fresh Start or More of the Lame?

Tranformers: Age of Extinction is blowing into theaters worldwide, carrying with it Michael Bay and Paramount’s continued hopes in a billion-dollar (or more) payout. This time however, things are different (as the many advertisements for the film would have you believe). A whole new human cast (led by Mark Wahlberg) has been brought in to replace the actors of the original trilogy; while on the robot side, new Decepticons and Autobots (and Dinobots) will be introduced in order to help push up sagging merchandising sales.

The last week leading up to the release of Transformers 4 has provided any number of previews and trailers – but today brings something more telling: complete reviews of the film. There are those who have seen Age of Extinction (which has premiered overseas already) and have brought back a more complete indication of just what this fourth installment has to offer.

IN SHORT: More of the same, with prettier pictures.


transformers age extinction bumblebee 620x370 Transformers 4 Early Reviews: Fresh Start or More of the Lame?

Screen Daily claims that even with some new elements, it’s pretty much what you expect from the franchise at this point (read: no improvements):

The fourth instalment of Michael Bay’s big screen robot romp offers few surprises but an abundance of the series’ familiar tropes in another marathon-length, narratively vapid action spectacular. Bay’s trademark visual fireworks are as impressive as ever, while an all-new cast promises a new direction for what may become a second trilogy. Otherwise, it’s business as usual for the Autobots and Decepticons, which based on past performance means a huge box office performance everywhere.

According to THR, however, things are looking tired:

Sadly, Age of Extinction is neither controversial nor disturbing, but mostly just dull and middling — which is just so not done with a sci-fi action blockbuster designed to blast and titillate. It has neither the first film’s sporadic comedic pleasures born of the interactions between its humans and robots, nor does it attain the hyper-sensationalism that makes the second and third installments utterly over-the-top showcases of gratuitous demolition.

On the other hand, according to Variety, the new robot characters make up for the weak humans and unfocused story:

It’s not just that the Autobots look more distinctive and easier to tell apart than ever in “Transformers: Age of Extinction” — as Optimus Prime never tires of reminding us, these robots have actual souls. So who cares if the human characters are even more dispensable and the plot even more scattershot than usual?… As the sine qua non of the franchise, it’s the robots — endowed here with character-rich physicality and almost human-scaled facial features — who give the film its emotional heft.

HitFix gets to the heart of the matter – namely why this installment is going for a “fresh start” at all:

Ultimately, these are still just vehicles for the sale of more toys, and Hasbro is poised to clean up once again… Transformers: Age Of Extinction” more than delivers on whatever promises Bay makes to an audience at this point. Giant robots. Giant mayhem. Destruction on a global scale. You know what you’re in for if you buy a ticket, and Bay seems determined to wear you down with the biggest craziest “Transformers” movie yet.

The Early Word (In Summary)

Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz in Transformers 4 Transformers 4 Early Reviews: Fresh Start or More of the Lame?

Basically, if you read all of the above reviews they point to one overwhelming conclusion: More of the same Bay-style Transformers, just with new characters there to help sell new toys. No recapture of the coming-of-age magic or initial awe of the first film – but hey, better visuals than ever! Apparently screenwriter Ehren Kruger is still getting paid big bucks to put out the thinnest and most incoherent scripts possible – a tradition he’s carried on since Transformers 2, and will conceivably continue into Transformers 5.

If you have been a staunch critic (or outright hater) of Bay’s Transformers – it’s looking like Age of Extinction is NOT going to be the fresh start you may have secretly been hoping for. (Sorry, Grimlock…) At first it seems almost silly that one of these films can’t get a better script, but then one considers the billions of dollars the franchise has made and it suddenly becomes more a question of why this formula keeps working – as almost every reviewer notes it’s likely to again.


NEXT: Transformers 4 Preview Footage


Transformers: Age of Extinction will be in 2D, 3D and IMAX theaters on June 27th.

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  1. I’ll see it this weekend. I liked the first and third one while I pretend the 2nd doesn’t exist. It’s a live action cartoon, so I’m okay with a less than intelligent plot.

  2. As far as I am concerned, the death of Roger Ebert almost perfectly coincides with the death if credibility of the film critic.
    Before film critics worked for reputable institutions and had studied things like film and journalism, now every Joe Blow with a website gets his or her opinion counted towards the incredibly disingenuous percentage system.

    No offense to any of you, but I now care as much about what film critics say as I do about any random cat with a keyboard dropping their opinion on a message board has to say. Which is, not at all.

    T4 looks just like the other 3, which is to say a fun couple hours of watching cartoon robots brought to life smashing the hell out of each other!
    Count me in!

    • Only minus LaDousche, so it is rather win win IMO.

      • Well not for me and all the other people who love Shia, he was the main reason the other films were so funny (except part 2, not even he could save that one).

  3. SURPRISE! The story is garbage

    SURPRISE! The strange fireball god in the sky is back after going away and making everything dark.


    It’s a Michael Bay Transformers film, you KNOW what your going to get and LOTS of people enjoy this franchise just the way it is.

    Regardless of the quality of the script and story for the cinephile aspiring actor tutting away in seat K7, 8 out 10 cats like Bang, Bash, Smash….. add in a bit of “flesh” for the 12year old boys (and their bored Dads) and you’ve got box office gold – nothing like the common denominator. How else do you explain Adam Sandler.

    I’m not a particular fan of the Bay movies, saw the 1st one at the cinema, left the rest for rental releases.

    I have a number of issues with this franchise but the story isn’t really one of them, I fully accept that it’s there only as a device to lead to more Bang, Bash, Smash.

    I like Bang, Bash, Smash with the best of them IF, IF it’s done well and for me in this franchise it simple isn’t done very well at all.

    Best thing for this film series is to get rid of the necessity FOR a story. Get this franchise into space and to Cybertron.

    Your story is then, Decepticons don’t like Autobots, Autobots don’t like Decepticons, Autobots and Decepticons really, really don’t like Unicron.

    Lots of Bang, Bash, Smash without the stupid “fleshlings” getting in the way making “Story”, who wants that…..

    Then maybe people will just accept these films for what they are. Bang, Bash, Smash.

  4. I’m a huge movie nut…..and I mean close to clinically ill sort of movie nut….and I really don’t understand why people give these movies such a hard time. I don’t go to see these films for its multi-layered plot and intricate character twists… I go and see these films (with my 9 year old son, yep that’s my excuse) to see massive robots kicking the living s**t out of each other. Its sounds to me like this film is doing exactly what everybody expected it to do… I agree that Mr Bay isn’t the world’s best director but he’s doing exactly what Hasbro want him to do and to be fair…. What I want him to do with a Transformer film… Remember people this is a film based on a children’s toy and cartoon. Are you trying to tell me that Frozen didn’t do exactly what everybody thought it should do? Songs = recording sales, Princesses mean = doll sales, Massive robots battering each other = toy sales.

    …Raging Bull this is not.

    PS thank god I have boys… got a cold chill when I thought my house could be covered in pink princesses 

    • He’s a question for you then (This is NOT a flame, I’m looking for an opinion)

      As a movie nut who appreciates (one would assume) good camera work, design, shot composition etc. is this franchise made up of “good” films.

      Not bothered about fun or enjoyable but as a piece of film making.

      The problems I have with this series are

      The Transformer designs – too similar, when in action there’s not enough differences to CLEARLY identify who’s who and who’s doing what. Add that to…

      Michael Bay’s camera work in the action sequence. He doesn’t often give us a wide establishing shot so we can get the geography (key in action) and then he gets too close and adds a bit of handheld shaky cam so you can’t make anything out

      The human characters are AWFUL but that’s down to the script (along with the “humour”) and that’s not what I’m asking about.

      So it’s only a couple of points but as 80% of the running time of these films is either action, Transformers or Transformers in Action they’re pretty prevalent.

      So as “robots kick the sh1t out of each other” films…. are they well done or could they / should they be better.

      • Fair play these are good points…. but with these movies I know what I’m getting myself in for… We all know the Bayisams… We know the humans are going to be pointless, We know the explosions are going to be big… we know we’ll see a girl screaming in slow motion as something terrible happens behind her and we also know we’ll get slow motion helicopter blades… oh and his standard stock footage of some navel boats…..

        All I’m really saying is we know what to expect. We know Bay is going to deliver exactly the same if it’s robots or Will Smith running about.

        I know myself and my son will enjoy it….I think we ride this one out and see what the next director can do… (Hopefully Bay won’t take too much control over it)

      • In a movie like Transformers, the visuals are key. My main complaint all along has also been that when the Transformers are in motion, it gets difficult to tell them apart, I wish they used more colors on the Autobots at least. Story wise, it seems that writter Ehren Kruger is happy just handing in mediocre crap about giant robots. This 4th installment looked lame from the beginning and that notion was confirmed when I went to an early screening.
        It’s clear that Mark Walburg has been dying to join a “franchise” but he really needs to ditch this one. It’s also very clear that Michael Bay is enjoying the “action figure” money he’s receiving from Hasbro so I doubt he’ll be stopping anytime soon. I really hope this doesn’t become another trilogy and if it does, I really hope they get new writers.

  5. I wish they made a ROBOTECH movie

    • I don’t want Robotech to be destroyed the same way. Only ok if a really good director is on board.

  6. Yeah yeah more of the same, as if the trailers didn’t show you that any way… And yes I’m tired of the same MB look as most of you are, BUT MB transformers is better than no transformers at all in my opinion (would love to see a fresh perspective though). And get ready cause its not over… MB’s Teenage Mutant Transformer Turtles (are they even turtles any more???) will be here soon!!
    Oh and by the way loved the tittle Kof!! cheezy but I totally laughed!!

  7. Have a chance to see a sneak preview of the movie, decided to pass simply because Michael Bay gave us 3 movies to show what he wants to do, and all 3 was more about the people and less about the Transformers part even though all the trailers are like this trailer in that they show case way more Transformers action than people.

    So while I would love to watch 90 minutes of CGI Rock & Sock’em robots, I don’t want to watch a 120 minute emotional struggle that humans will have with survival and some robots slugging it out in the background.

  8. This franchise needs to die off now so that the fans of the original cartoon can get the film they deserve in ten or fifteen years, only problem is it won’t as the films make so much money…

  9. I mean what you expected? I dont expected a great drama o great acting o great dialogs…The transformers movies are:action,adventure,explosions,guns,fights and hot chixs period!!!..I know what a got to see when i buy the ticket…simple like that!!

  10. Once you have seen one of these movies you have practically seen them all. They could probably cut out a majority of the human cast portions of these films and dub different robot dialog over the CGI parts and make something more interesting.

  11. seen the movie this afternoon in the Phil, story wise there’s nothing new about it. still the extravagant explosions and use of unwanted transformers just like in TF3. still using more of the human characters and less of the transformers themselves. just wish they would stick to the canon of the cartoons to make this movie right. and the movie is long…..

  12. I think the movie quality is quite entertaining.
    There are many side of story. Good and evil human, space evil robot and Megatron evil plan ,Autobots and dinobots .
    I think they use more than 1 villain to make this movie more interesting.
    Avengers 2 will have more than 1 villain story as well. Maybe it’s new direction for future movies.
    Compare to 5 minutes Godzilla I prefer transformers 4 beacuse I paid same price for 2hours 45 mins movie, totally worth it.
    Its not the best movie but it worth the money.

    • Godzilla is way more worthy of your money than this horrendous franchise could ever be, don’t kid yourself.

      • +100,000,000,000,000,000 (anyone know how to do an infinity loop on a keyboard?)

        That IS something we can agree on, Godzilla rocked, best film (for me) this year.

  13. I don’t get the tried and true argument from Bay supporters of “I know what I’m getting into” and “I just want to turn off my brain”. I love being entertained as much as the next person, and when a movie is entertaining, it can usually shuffle past the occasional plot hole or WTF moment.

    But Bay movies actively insult your intelligence. They are titled ‘Transformers’ but they are about humans. The Transformers action in a Bay movie will consist entirely of what you see in the trailer plus about 15 minutes of additional footage.

    Transformers is a relatively silly intellectual property at its core, but at least the 80s ‘toy commerical’ cartoons, and all the subsequent shows retained a fun camp factor to them by focusing on the robots, their personalities and conflicts.

    • Nobody expect you to have good brain if you care to buy Transformers ticket tho.

    • See, I never understood the “shutting off my brain” comments because when I watch a film, whether it’s an intelligent piece about a historic event or a Jean Claude Van Damme 80s flick, my brain never switches off.

      I guess they mean switching off their brains as in actually being dead and no longer alive, which wouldn’t surprise me since that’s probably the only way you could ever get enjoyment from these films, to literally die during a screening.

      Genocide is more entertaining to watch than this franchise. I’ll never understand how anyone can defend them or find them to be good in any way.

  14. Seen the movie 2 hrs ago here in the Phil… The movie is soo long.. Its overcrowded and overstimulated… The only saving grace is Stanley Tucci!!!..demn, i love his character.. Overall, its a visual orchard of toxic excess..!!

  15. I agree with most of the comments here. ANYONE with a keyboard can now suddenly be a professional film critic. I mean if they’re so good a criticizing other’s film, maybe they should write and direct their own film. The reason movies like Transformers can make money is not to please the film critics. The purpose of those films are to bring the characters we love to the big screen regardless of the story and plot. They continue to cash in on movies like Transformers with a weak script and plot is because its targetted at FAMILY folks with kids. Kids hardly understand the need for intricate plots and complex character depths. We end up watching the film because it promises 2 hours of screentime FUN! Transformer will be no different and i will be enjoying myself when watching it.

    • Lol ok buddy, by your logic then don’t ever complain about the service at a fast food joint or restaurant until you have worked at that particular establishment for at least a week. While we’re at it, don’t criticize any political figure until you have served one term in their in their elected position. See where that logic is breaking down?

      No one in the comments is claiming to be a professional film critic. I enjoyed the first film tremendously, in fact, I bought it on dvd almost as soon as it was available. But the sequels… utter garbage. Wasn’t entertained in the slightest while watching them.

  16. Just saw T4 in Phoenix. I, for one, do not regret dishing out the $ to see huge robots and mechanized dinosaurs fight equally big evil robots in Imax 3D. I think it’s fair too assume Bay and Company aren’t out to win any SAGs or Oscars, but that’s not why you go see Transformers, is it?

  17. I’m a big fan of Transformers, but I must admit that i am with this fourth part pretty disappointed! First, I do not like in this sequel to the manner in which the new Decepticon transformed! Exactly,the old way of transformation, and its the only genuine, that it is a classic transformation Transformers (Autobots and Deseptikons) is something unique and something that adorns Transformerse.To one of their main features and it shouldnt be changed…it have to be original transformation! Another thing I did not like is the design of Dinobots, especially their design in the form of a robot … too ordinary! Third thing that I do not like is that when original Dinobots thrown away Sludge(Apatosaurus) and Snarl(Stegosaur)and instead are inserted makes me Plesosaurus and some predator? And I do not understand why Swoop(Pterodactil) got two heads?
    Last thing might be a habit with the previous cast … though I love Mark Walberg … I still think that the previous team had more quality actors … from which everyone in it had a touch of humor as the previous parts of the elevator to a higher level!

  18. OK, who actually cares about the scripts? Humans do the main trash talks and have some funny moments, giant robots do the fights (and also have some funny moments), but in the end, isn’t it all about the visuals that you may never see from other types of movies? You wanna talk about logic and sense, come on, it’s giant robotic life-form kicking each others’ butt in a sci-fi universe, you wanna the general audience who just want some entertainment at the end of the day to take the story serious? Yeah, a planet full of robots fighting an endless (good vs bad) war is a very sophisticated story for you…(when you were…)? And yeah earth is so damn important and it just have to be a galactic conflict magnet? The cartoons focus on transformers because that fits with kids!OKey!!! These are the setup of the original story and I don’t get what the complaint is about? The movie story needs humans because it is our planet they are fighting on, what’s wrong with that?!! The movie is successful, judging by the box offices sales globally, despite all the reviews and comments (likes or dislikes), people are willing to pay and watch it, end of story.