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Michael Bay
Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, Nicola Peltz, TJ Miller, Jack Reynor, Peter Cullen
Writing Credits:
Ehren Kruger

Prepare for Extinction.

A mechanic and his family join the Autobots as they are targeted by a bounty hunter from another world.

Box Office:
$210 million.
Opening Weekend
$100,038,390 on 4,233 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (2D Version)
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby Digital Discrete 5.1
English Dolby Digital Discrete 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Description
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 165 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 9/30/2014

• “Evolution Within Extinction” Documentary
• “Bay on Action” Featurette
• “Just Another Giant Effin’ Movie” Featurette
• “A Spark of Design” Featurette
• “TJ Miller: Farm Hippie” Featurette
• Trailers
• DVD Copy


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Transformers: Age of Extinction [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 21, 2014)

With 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, it appeared that Michael Bay might be done with the franchise. Instead, Bay simply finished off a “trilogy” – and then started a new one before too long.

Which meant 2014’s Age of Extinction relaunched the series with some new characters. In the aftermath of the battles seen in Moon, we learn that the good aliens called “Autobots” have been deemed a threat and have gone into hiding. Government agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) hunts the remaining Autobots with the desire to destroy them – and replace then with special engineered robots who’ll follow his agenda.

In the meantime, aspiring inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) runs a series of businesses out of his rural Texas home, all of which struggle to make money. Cade lives with his teen daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) and resists her efforts to get him to focus on more profitable endeavors.

Cade’s shenanigans seem to pay off when he finds an abandoned truck that happens to be a Transformer – and not just any Transformer, but head honcho Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). This drags Cade and family into a mix of violent excursions as Optimus attempts to reform the Autobots and battle a number of threats.

As noted at the start, Extinction breaks from the series of Transformers films that Bay made from 2007 through 2011, but it doesn’t mean that no continuity exists. Extinction refers to events in the prior movies but it loses all the humans from those efforts.

Which sounds like a good thing, as Sam Witwicky and company wore out their welcome. A change of heros and villains feels like a positive attempt to spice up the series and give it new twists.

But not too many new twists, as even with a focus on different protagonists and antagonists, it becomes tough to find much about Extinction that separates it from its predecessors. Indeed, even the seeming positive of the change in characters doesn’t necessarily come as a benefit to Extinction. Yes, I’m glad to be done with Sam and the others, especially since Shia LaBeouf’s public meltdowns have made him untenable as the star of a major blockbuster.

That said, I think the producers of Extinction could’ve come up with new characters who seem more interesting than Cade and the rest. It’s perplexing that although the film posits Cade as a Texan, Wahlberg doesn’t attempt an accent. I suppose this is a good thing, as Mark’s acting skills probably don’t lend themselves toward the Streep side of the street. Wahlberg has enough trouble creating a mildly interesting performance without the added challenge of a Texas drawl; I like Mark as a personality, but he can’t create life in a movie on his own, and he leaves a hole at the core of the story.

None of the other actors manage to do much to bring vivacity to the tale. Actually, as a tech visionary not unlike Steve Jobs, Stanley Tucci contributes a bit of verve, and he enjoys some moderately amusing interactions with a long-suffering subordinate played by James Bachman.

The other humans appear less compelling. As our new black ops baddie, Grammer falls flat; he should be able to pull off roles like this but he appears disinterested and invests little in the role.

As the film’s new cheesecake option, Peltz looks great but fails to show much acting skill. Jack Reynor’s work as her boyfriend shows a bit more life but not enough to turn the character into a memorable one – especially since the film’s contrived feud between father and boyfriend boasts some of the series’ worst dialogue.

When Extinction focuses on the robot-based battles, it does better, though only to a moderate degree. After three prior films, Bay seems to find it tough to invent new ways to stage these scenes, so we end up with something of a “been there, done that” feel. The action sequences create the tale’s strongest moments but they don’t do enough to maintain our attention.

Part of the problem – a lot of it, really – comes from the movie’s length. At 165 minutes, Extinction becomes the longest of the four Transformers movies; it goes 22 minutes longer than the first film and adds 15 minutes/11 minutes, respectively, to the totals of the second and third flicks.

The earlier stories already dragged, so the extra minutes here don’t come as a good thing, especially since the filmmakers seem to devote much of the extra time to human-related elements. As I noted, the people on display in Extinction appear more boring than ever, so more time with dull personalities equals a real drag.

The extended length becomes more perplexing to me because Extinction provides a less complicated plot than its predecessors. Those maintained a broader variety of characters and situations, while Extinction feels simple. Perhaps those behind it thought we needed the added minutes to set up the new characters, but the 143-minute 2007 film managed a whole lot more exposition in less time, so the decision to push Extinction perilously close to three hours doesn’t make much sense to me.

On the positive side, Extinction continues the series’ dedication to top-notch visuals, and its effects look better than ever. Also, Bay couldn’t stage a truly dull film if he tried; while his reliance on style over substance can be wearying, I must acknowledge the man knows how to create a vibrant visual piece.

For all my complaints about the characters, I like Extinction’s lowered reliance on cheesy comedy. That’s always been a weakness of Bay’s, as he loves to insert lowest-common-denominator gags where they don’t belong. For instance, Sam’s parents became more and more cartoony as the first trilogy progressed – and less and less interesting.

Bay doesn’t totally avoid that sort of material in Extinction, but he minimizes it compared to his other works. This means one embarrassing scene with a sassy black realtor – Bay can’t get enough of this sort of character – but much of the rest of the film stays dramatic or integrates its humor in a more natural manner ala the interactions between the Tucci and Bachman roles. The lessened role of cheap gags allows the movie to deliver a better visceral punch.

Extinction also fares much better in its second half. While the second hour-plus doesn’t truly redeem the rest, it offers a superior concentration on action and burdens us less with the dull character elements. Like I mentioned, Bay knows his way around action, so even though he doesn’t innovate here, he keeps things watchable.

All of this leaves Extinction as a mediocre launch for a second Transformers trilogy. Even with a bunch of new characters, it remains rather similar to its predecessors and does nothing to improve the existing (flawed) model. I can’t say I dislike the film, but it doesn’t make me a fan of the franchise – as much as I want to enjoy these movies, they’re too inconsistent.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Transformers: Age of Extinction appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Michael Bay movies tend to look great on home video, and Extinction doesn’t provide an exception to that rule.

If you’ve seen prior Bay films, you’ll know what to expect from this one’s palette. As usual, teal and orange dominated, and while that trend was predictable, I couldn’t complain about the replication, as the hues looked strong within their stylistic constraints. Blacks came across as dark and tight, and shadows appeared smooth and easily discernible.

Sharpness worked well. Only the slightest sliver of softness ever affected wide shots, so the vast majority of the movie brought us terrific clarity and definition. No signs of jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to materialize. All in all, this offered a fine visual presentation. <

For the first time ever, a Blu-ray comes with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack – if you own the equipment to play it. The track works on standard Blu-ray players but requires an Atmos-equipped receiver – as well as more speakers. Maybe someday I’ll upgrade for Atmos, but that day isn’t today.

Happily, the Atmos mix plays back as Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those of us with “antiquated” systems – and as I expect from a Transformers movie, it’s an excellent mix. The soundfield presented an active and lively piece that constantly engaged the various speakers. The film showed distinctive imagery throughout the movie that placed different auditory elements accurately within the spectrum and meshed them together nicely.

Music provided strong stereo imaging, and effects popped up from the appropriate locations. Quieter scenes displayed natural ambience, while the many action set pieces involved engrossing and vibrant imaging. All the Transformers movies have provided terrific soundscapes, and Extinction offered no exception.

Audio quality also seemed positive. Speech consistently appeared natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded bright and dynamic as the disc neatly replicated the score.

Effects packed a nice wallop when necessary, as these elements seemed clean and distinct at all times. Bass response came across as deep and tight, and the low-end added a good layer of depth and oomph to the package. This was a soundtrack to challenge your subwoofer, as it really administered a heavy punch. I thought this was a consistently impressive soundtrack.

Most of the set’s extras appear on Disc Two. The main attraction comes from Evolution Within Extinction, a multi-part documentary that runs two hours, two minutes, 50 seconds. It includes notes from producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Ian Bryce, Hasbro VP Transformers Franchise Lead Jay Duke, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft, executive producer/Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, Paramount Film Group president Adam Goodman, screenwriter Ehren Kruger, director/executive producer Michael Bay, 1st AD/co-producer KC Hodenfeld, art director Benjamin Edelberg, transportation coordinator Randy Peters, paint sign writer Sean Sult, Aria Group Chief Production Manager James Desmond, GM Design show car coordinator Mike Erdodi, transportation captain/driver Joey Freitas, stunt coordinator Mike Gunther, drivers Corey Eubanks and Kyle Woods, supervising location manager JJ Hook, set decorator Rosemary Brandenberg, lead person Jon Bush, robot inventors Steve Norris and Miike Smyth, special effects coordinator Jim Schwalm, visual effects supervisor Scott Farrar, special effects foreperson Craig “Tex” Barnett, special effects technician Richard O. Helmer, co-producer/stunts Michael Kase, unit production manager/co-producer Allegra Clegg, executive producer Mark Vahradian, supervising location manager Ilt Jones, GM Aerodynamics Engineering Group manager Robert Niemiec, supervising art director Mark W. Mansbridge, set designer Rob Johnson, armorer Chuck Rousseau, lead assistant location manager Leann Emmert, special effects supervisor John Frazier, construction coordinator C. Jonas Kirk, art director Sebastian Schroder, lead assistant location manager Manny Padilla, propmaker foreperson Jeff Scott Hall, special effects technician Matt DiSarro, assistant set decorator Kevin Kropp, sound mixer Peter Devlin, 3D rig technician Seth Gallagher, Hong Kong 1st AD Sylvia Liu, location manager Matt Wersinger, ILM visual effects producer Wayne Billheimer, ILM animation supervisor Rick O’Connor, digital supervisor John Hansen, digital artist supervisors Andy Proctor and Michael Balog, composer Steve Jablonsky, musician Dan Reynolds, and actors Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer, Titus Welliver, TJ Miller, Sophia Myles, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing, Melanie Specht, Abigail Klein, Victoria Summer, Mark Ryan, Patrick Bristow, Kevin Covais, and Peter Cullen.

“Evolution” looks at new characters and Transformer design, story areas and changes from the prior films, cast and performances, various vehicles and stunts, sets, locations, and production design, practical and visual effects, editing, music and audio. With more than two hours at its disposal, I hoped “Evolution” would offer a rich, detailed look at the production. While it does give us plenty of information, it still seems more than a little superficial. There’s simply a promotional veneer that affects the overall impact of the piece. “Evolution” comes with more than enough material to make it worthwhile, but it doesn’t wholly satisfy.

Four featurettes follow. Bay on Action lasts 10 minutes, 45 seconds and delivers the director’s thoughts about his visual style and his take on action sequences. Love him or hate him, Bay tends to be an interesting speaker, and he makes this an informative piece.

During the 10-minute, three-second Just Another Giant Effin’ Movie, we get a compilation reel. It acts as a blooper reel of sort as it shows nuttiness during the production. Some may enjoy it, but it leaves me pretty cold.

A Spark of Design fills 15 minutes, 24 seconds with info from Jay Duke, Brian Goldner, qTransformers Senior Design Director Joshua Lamb, Transformers Design Manager John Warden, Transformers Creative Brand Manager Jonathan Newkirk, Hasbro Model Shop Senior Designer Patrick Marr, CAD modeler Steven Gray, Supervisor RP Design and Engineering Development Peter Baker, senior caster Mike Cody, and model artist Mark Maher. “Spark” looks at aspects of the design and creation of the Transformers toys. If that subject interests you, it turns into a decent piece, but I must admit it feels like a long ad for Hasbro.

Finally, TJ Miller: Farm Hippie occupies 19 minutes, 43 seconds and gives us a video diary with actor Miller. He visits Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Kelsey Grammer and Optimus Prime. All of this attempts comedy, and it occasionally succeeds. However, at almost 20 minutes, “Hippie” runs too long so the potential for amusement fades along the way.

Under trailers, four ads appear. In addition to two standard trailers for Extinction, we find “KRE-O Transformers: Take Us Through The Movies!” (3:42) and “Angry Birds Transformers: Origin Story” (1:16). Based on the KRE-O toys – and clearly influenced by The LEGO Movie, “Take Us” gives us a run-through of the first three films’ plots; it’s cute and fun. “Birds” emulates the format of the 1980s Transformers TV series to sell the new video game. It also entertains, though it seems less enjoyable than “Take Us”.

Finally, a third disc provides a DVD copy of Extinction. It lacks any extras.

Going into the fourth film in the franchise, fans know what to expect from Transformers: Age of Extinction. Even with new protagonists, the movie follows the formula established in the first three flicks, and that means we get another sporadically exciting but often tedious experience. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio along with supplements highlighted by a long – if erratic – documentary. Extinction won’t turn off fans of the Transformers series but it seems unlikely to convert new partisans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.25 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main