“Transformers: Smash-a-thon 4000”–sorry, that should be “Transformers: Age of Extinction” comes out this Friday in the U.S. The critical consensus: despite some impressive 3D eye candy, this fourth installment in the franchise, weighing in at a whopping 165 minutes, lags under its own weight and doesn’t make much sense.
Of course, it’s still probably going to smash the box office, especially with its extensive use of location shooting in Hong Kong and China, which will likely appeal to that very lucrative market. Don’t forget–“Transformers 5” is already on the docket for 2016.
Below, check out critic Kevin B. Lee’s 25-minute “Transformers: The Premake,” a video report on the making of this latest iteration, including a cranky Michael Bay insisting that commerce had nothing to do with shooting in China.
Here’s a look at some of the early reviews of “Age of Extinction.”
Despite boasting an entirely new human cast and many a new onscreen mechanical warrior, plus a half-hour grand finale set in very different Hong Kong locales, Transformers: Age of Extinction isn’t the breath of fresh air vitally needed by an aging franchise. No matter that these films set the tills ringing — all things come to an end, and if this is a reboot, Extinction promises the series will go out with more of a whimper than a bang further down the line. Still, the current film is very well-placed to rake it in big time in China and could surpass Dark of the Moon‘s record takings.
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? Resurrected to take on man-made knock-offs of themselves, these metallic superheroes cause so much destruction, it’s as if they’re trying to find a literal new definition for the term “blockbuster” — and indeed, as in the 2007-11 trilogy, which raked in $2.6 billion globally, helmer Michael Bay continues to evolve ways to make robotic shape-shifting look increasingly seamless and realistic in 3D. Extensive location shooting in Hong Kong and China provides a colorful new battlefield as well as an opportunity to cash in on the franchise’s second most lucrative market, and boffo B.O. is expected globally following the pic’s world premiere in Hong Kong and its public unveiling at the Shanghai Film Festival
Until I walked into the giant 3D IMAX theater in downtown Hong Kong, I hadn’t really given this film any thought. Even as someone who liked the last one, I’d barely paid any attention to what they had in mind for this film. Overall, I think this is a big step in the right direction. It’s visually just as wild as the last few Bay films have been, with the director pushing ILM to their breaking point. It is amazing to me that Bay keeps finding a way to somehow make this these things even bigger than they already naturally are, but he is a man whose career can be seen as a series of escalating aesthetic decisions. He knows that these films exist largely to give fans a chance to watch giant robots beat holy hell out of each ether, and on that front, boy, does he deliver.