Michael Bay likes the boom. The boom boom pow. And a lot like Will.I.Am, he doesn’t care how silly his lyrics are or how manufactured his stylings. The difference being that while Black Eyed Peas songs have their moments of dumb fun, Transformers: Age of Extinction only has moments of dumb.
Conversely Bay himself might actually be quite smart in peddling his products to the mass-market lowest common denominator. Maybe he knows audiences won’t mind that high-tech military helicopters somehow can’t accurately shoot an 18-wheeler… as long as the surroundings get blown up. Or that when said 18-wheeler’s robot mode has been defeated in battle (not a spoiler, it happens every movie), an advanced alien spaceship picks up the remains not with a tractor beam or a high-powered magnet, but with a net… as long as a hot blonde gets caught in it too. Or that the same robot, after spending most the movie driving to and from peril as a clunky 18-wheeler, suddenly exhibits the ability to rocket off into space… as long as it means there’s a sequel.
From a fanboy perspective the movie is still bad. There are a few nice effects shots, but nothing jaw-dropping or significantly different from the previous three movies. The Dinobots offer the potential for some impressive action and destruction, but as with Devastator’s appearance in Transformers 2, it goes largely unfulfilled. Fans often say they want to see less of the humans and more of the robots in these movies, but as annoying as the human characters can be, the Autobots are actually worse, ranging from a pot-bellied, potty-mouthed robotic redneck to a bright blue bot with a Japanese accent (Ken Watanabe’s second bad movie of the summer) and a sword.
It’d be nice if one of these Transformers sequels didn’t make a billion dollars so the studio would have an excuse to get a different director. But much like Megatron there’s no keeping Bay down, and even as producer he’d still likely put his unsightly stamp on the series (as seems to be happening with the awful-looking TMNT reboot).
Maybe some things are better left in the ’80s.