Its been 3 years since Michael Bay ended his first Transformers trilogy and now he is back with his first entry in what is a new trilogy that he hopes will “reboot” the series. Bay hoped by coming back he could possibly right some of the wrongs and address some of the criticisms from his original films with the promise of a better story with less annoying human characters. (i.e. No Shia LaBeouf or Megan Fox)
Michael Bay’s “reboot” is more or less a continuation of the previous trilogy taking place 4 years after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. When the film picks up with the help of a Transformer bounty hunter called Lockdown, all Transformers are now being hunted and killed by the US government, regardless of their affiliation of Autobot or Decepticon. The events that took place in Chicago has united the nation against the Transformers, all while the government is harnessing their technology and using it to build transforming weapons of their own.
The human protagonist at the heart of the story is Cade Yeager played by Mark Wahlberg, a single father and inventor who accidentally discovers the leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime, who we find is Lockdown’s primary target. The humans hope to turn Prime over in exchange for “The Seed”, an alien artifact that will give humanity the ability to create their own army of Transformers by giving them an unlimited supply of “Transformium”, …yes “Transformium”. I guess we can officially stop making “Unobtanium” jokes now.
While the film starts strong, it slowly devolves into a rehash of the first film with the Autobots trying to keep the dangerous artifact from falling into Megatron’s hands, all while giant robots decimate yet another city. I know what you’re thinking, this is a Transformers film and of course Bay brought Megatron back from the dead, again. At least this time he tries to keep it canon by calling him Galvatron and while he may not be at the forefront of this story, he is the insurance policy that they will get at least one more film out of this franchise.
Aside from the apparent flaws, the film is indeed more human focused and with less transparent characterizations. While Mark Wahlberg definitely manages to hold his own on screen with the giant robots, I can’t help but wonder what the film would have been like with his Pain and Gain co-star The Rock in the role instead. The Rock did happen to save the G.I. Joe reboot. The Transformers designs are also a bit less convoluted this time around and by the end of the film the Autobots get to ride around on Dinobots with swords while they destroy Hong Kong, which is a pretty damn cool sight to behold.
So, if you’re a fan of the original films you’re not going to be disappointed. But for those looking for something different you should probably sit this one out. Bay delivers the spectacle and action he is known for in heaping portions for 3 hours, but can’t seem to break free of the superficial mold he set for the series. While I have to admit I had fun and the 3D was well done, its going to be another 7 years until we can revisit this property as anything more than garish product placement with a series of action set-pieces all trying to outdo the one before it.
But hey giant robots riding robot dinosaurs breathing fire? That’s pretty damn cool.