"A Twirling Dance of Metal Mayhem"
What You Need To Know:
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION may be the best TRANSFORMERS movie yet. There’s plenty of action, awesome special effects, appealing characters, and some heartfelt moments. The movie goes on too long, however, and doesn’t always work. That said, it has a strong moral worldview promoting good values such as helping others in trouble, looking out for family, doing the right thing, and overcoming greed. Even so, there’s plenty of foul language and some very strong violence. Extreme caution is required for TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION.
(BBB, C, CapCap, PP, AC, AP, Pa, LLL, VVV, M) Very strong moral worldview, with some solid redemptive content, including mentions of having a soul, a positive father-daughter relationship, elements of heroism and self-sacrifice, helping others in trouble is exalted, good robots and humans fight evil robots and humans (some of the robots appear to be soulless because they were created by humans without the “spark” of a soul), having a “soul” is seen as a symbol of personhood and dignity worth protecting and saving, human admits to alien robot being that humans are flawed and make lots of mistakes, but you have to look for the “treasure” among the “junk,” but teenage daughter sometimes disobeys her protective father and has a secret forbidden boyfriend on the side, but situation is resolved somewhat positively and some strong capitalist content regarding protagonist father, and when inventor father appeals to another, richer capitalist inventor to do the right thing, and he does, plus patriotic father has American flags hanging and is battling corrupt tyranny, but the human villain is a greedy CIA agent looking to comfortably retire, and one “good” robot gets enjoyment fighting other robots and uses the “b” word against them several times; about 58 obscenities (mostly “h” and a** words, a couple AH words, one “f” word, some “s” words, a couple bada** words, three “d” words, a couple SOB words, several “b” words), one Jesus profanity, and 16 profanities such as MG and For God’s sake); very strong, nearly constant action violence includes robots fight humans and each other, humans rip apart one robot, large sword impales one robot, sword splits robot in two, lots of gunfire and machine gun fire, humans tossed around in about three crash scenes, many explosions, missiles fired, evil robot on spaceship uses magnet to pull up boats and cars and metal to then dump them on the good guys, humans in car and outside of car dodge thousands of objects hurtling around the area, flying T-Rex robot, villain threatens to shoot another man’s daughter in the head, speeding vehicles, robots and spaceships crash into buildings and one another spreading mass destruction, and green liquid innards come out from wounded robots; no sex scenes, but a double entendre about a woman and a stickshift in a car, father mentions he heard noises when daughter’s boyfriend secretly visited her at night, and a couple shots of young women as “eye candy”; no nudity but father complains daughter’s shorts are too short, and daughter wears a tight white knit shirt looking like a T-shirt; no alcohol; no smoking or drugs; and, a couple references to dinosaurs and 65 million years ago but no overt references to evolution, greed and lying but rebuked, mention of a “Romeo and Juliet” exception in laws regarding age differences between boy who’s reached adulthood and a girlfriend who hasn’t, and robot being says there are “mysteries” in the universe, we are never meant to solve, but asking “who we are and why we are here” aren’t one of them.
In many ways, TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION may be the best TRANSFORMERS movie by Michael Bay, since the action is often bigger and better, and the characters are more interesting and even nobler this time around. However, the movie overstays its welcome a bit. For example, the metal mayhem of robot battles and mass destruction goes on for nearly two hours and 45 minutes. So, while the visual effects are impressive, everything gets a little repetitious, and the character relationships are in danger of getting lost amid the metal mayhem. Happily, AGE OF EXTINCTION has some positive moral themes about helping others and taking care of family. It also has much less of the smarmy sexual content from the first three movies. However, there’s still a lot of foul language and the violence is very strong, though not graphic. Consequently, the movie isn’t for children, which is strange, because if any franchise should make an attempt to be as older child friendly as possible, the TRANSFORMERS franchise is the one.
The movie opens millions of years ago with huge alien spaceships blowing up and transforming the Earth’s surface while dinosaurs try to scamper out of the way. A bony alien finger is shown firing the weapons unleashing the destruction.
Cut to a night scene somewhere in the United States. A stealth group of soldiers are hunting down an Autobot, one of the good guy alien robots who helped stop the Decepticons, the bad guy robots, from destroying Chicago and taking over the Earth. The soldiers are working for a CIA official, named Attinger, who’s been charged with hunting down and destroying the Decepticons. So, why is he also hunting down the Autobots?
Attinger is working with an alien robot named Lockdown, who’s been searching for the lead Autobot, Optimus Prime, to take him back to the mysterious creators of the Autobots. Attinger has promised Lockdown to help him find Optimus Prime, in return for an explosive “seed” device that can create the special metal that allows the Autobots to transform themselves into almost any other kind of object, including cars, trucks and weapons.
Cut to a widowed robotics inventor in Texas named Cade Yeager. Cade is struggling to make ends meet. The town’s old movie theater is a closed, empty shell. Inside, Cade discovers an old rusty semi truck. He buys the truck and brings it home to his barn, where he tinkers with lots of other junk to create little robots that can do things, like serve things from the refrigerator. The problem is, none of Cade’s robots work perfectly, including the robot guard dog he’s created for the farmhouse next to the barn. This, and Cade’s strict no-dating rules, causes tension between him and his 17-year-old daughter, Tessa, who’s trying to get a college scholarship. With little income, the unpaid bills are starting to pile up.
Of course, the old truck turns out to be Optimus Prime, who’s hiding from the humans who, apparently, have betrayed both him and the Autobots, even though they saved Earth. Just as Optimus Prime awakens, the CIA soldiers working under Attinger show up, with Lockdown secretly watching from a nearby hill. While Optimus hides in the barn, Attinger gives the go ahead from Washington to threaten Cade’s daughter so Cade will turn over Optimus to them. Cade tries to refuse, but the lead CIA agent points a gun at Tessa’s head and gives Cade a 10-count to decide. With the countdown nearing the end, the soldiers search the barn. Optimus suddenly comes fully awake to save Cade and Tessa. During the resulting fight, Cade and Tessa escape in a sports car driven by Tessa’s secret boyfriend, Shane, a 20-year-old rally car driver who met Tessa when they were in high school. Tessa has kept Shane hidden from her father, who might be just a little over-protective but out of concern for her safety and wellbeing.
After a big chase scene, Cade, Tessa, Shane, and Optimus escape the CIA soldiers. Cade, Tessa and Shane are also now hiding from the evil Attinger, who’s kept his campaign to round up Optimus and the Autobots secret from the White House and the American people. Cade suspects that someone in Washington is controlling the soldiers who tried to kill his daughter. He promises to help Optimus and the Autobots discover who the culprit is, stop him from killing Autobots, and bring him to justice, one way or another. They don’t know yet, however, about Attinger or his deal with the evil Lockdown.
As Cade and Optimus Prime help one another, more and bigger metal mayhem ensues.
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION has a lot of good points, both quality-wise and content-wise. Mark Wahlberg creates an endearing father figure in Cade, who cares about his daughter and lays down the law to both her and his boyfriend. They don’t always listen to him, however. For example, at one point in the movie’s many action scenes, Cade tells them to stay put while he goes to help get Opimus Prime out of a big jam. Tessa and Shane don’t listen, however, and go to help both Optimus and Cade. This action is one of the movie’s many highlights.
AGE OF EXTINCTION also has some of the best special effects and action sequences of any of the TRANSFORMERS movies. They truly are amazing.
That said, the movie goes on too long and seems to have multiple endings. Also, some of the corny lines may turn off some viewers. They’re meant to be fun, however, so perhaps only the critics and grouchy moviegoers will be perturbed. However, some apparent plot holes in the movie’s story may be more of an annoying problem, at least for some.
Overall, AGE OF EXTINCTION has a very strong moral worldview.
Despite their differences, the heroic father and his 17-year-old daughter clearly love one another. Their differences are resolved positively. The father also reconciles himself to his daughter having a boyfriend, but he admonishes the guy to be careful and take care of his daughter, or else.
AGE OF EXTINCTION also exalts self-sacrifice, helping others in trouble, family sticking together, working to make a living and provide for one’s family, doing the right thing, and stopping evil. At one point, when Optimus Prime tells Cade he’s tired of being betrayed by humans, Cade tells him that humans are always making mistakes but that some good can still come out of that. “You have to look at the junk and find the treasure,” says Cade, who’s always using junk to invent something wonderful. This comment reflects the biblical notion that human beings have positive worth despite their sinful nature. At another point, Cade admonishes another, much wealthier inventor working with the villain to follow his conscience and do the right thing. Cade’s appeal redeems the man, who follows Cade’s advice. The movie also contains overt references to the souls of the Autobots and the souls of the humans, implying that, therefore, both their lives are worth saving whenever you can.
Ultimately, despite its positive content, TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION warrants extreme caution for lots of foul language. Most of the obscenities are “h” and “a” words, but there are some “s” words, an “f” word, and several “b” words. The movie also has lots of constant action violence, which gets very strong at times, but not graphic. Thus, TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION isn’t a movie children should see.
Finally, although the live action TRANFORMERS movies don’t have this problem yet, all the comic book and animated TRANSFORMERS stories seem to have some Non-Christian theology. In several incarnations, for example, the Autobots and Decepticons are said to originate from the battle between two super-powerful twin brothers, one good and one evil, created by another godlike being who, apparently, created everything. Christian parents need to be careful about exposing their children to such false religion, even if it’s clearly set in a fictional world.