Mark Wahlberg breathes new life into a dying franchise, as he and his on-screen daughter (Nicola Peltz) fight to defend the autobots that are being wrongly hounded by the American government (again). The Transformers series has a patchy history, meaning that it doesn’t take much for this film to impress in areas where the previous ones failed to make an impression.
The action of the film begins when Optimus Prime is inadvertently revived by a wacky (but perfectly toned and tanned) inventor (Wahlberg). The leader of the autobots has been in hiding, disguised as a shabby truck since the events of the last film, and he soon sets out on a mission to locate his comrades and take revenge on those who are hunting them down. Aided by his new human friends (who act as stand-ins for Shia LaBeouf and whichever woman the producers choose to place by his side), Optimus goes to extreme lengths, and experiences quite a lot of emotional turmoil, in order to secure his existence on planet Earth.
As is usually the case with Transformers, the female lead is demoted to a role which identifies her solely through her relation to the male hero. Before, Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley played ‘the girlfriends’; here Nicola Peltz is very much ‘the daughter’, relying on her bickering father and boyfriend to protect and lead her. To be fair, most blockbuster films are guilty of this character stereotyping, but not all pair it with such unabashed shots of said daughter’s ass cheeks in small denim shorts.
Aside from this, Age of Extinction does boast some sort of coherent story, which means it is a far more pleasurable watch than 2009’s Revenge of the Fallen. Scenes follow on from one another with surprising ease, and the action set-pieces can actually be appreciated thanks to their ever so slightly slower pace. Stanley Tucci is a brilliant replacement for John Turturro, who seemed to get five decibels louder and five times more annoying with each film he appeared in. And let’s not forget to mention the spectacular dinobots who are probably the most impressive pieces of CGI in the entire Transformers series.
Overall, the film never quite finds its footing, and continually wavers between being an acceptable summer blockbuster, and a sad example of wasted potential. Mark Wahlberg is excellent in these sort of roles, and is without doubt the highlight of the whole 165 minute affair, but unfortunately not even he can carry the franchise to the heights it so desperately wants to reach.
FINAL VERDICT: ★ ★ ★