Friday, June 27, 2014

SPOILERIFIC! Transformers: Age of Extinction - Part One

Welcome to SPOILERIFIC!  Today's subject will be Transformers: Age of Extinction.  As a note, I will be going in-depth on several plot points, so only read if you have seen the movie or do not care about spoiling the plot of the movie.  Without further ado, let's start the first SPOILERIFIC!

I lamented the other day that I wasn't entirely happy with the newest Transformers movie, and I plan to outline, in detail, why I felt that the movie could have done better.  For the first subject, let's talk about the humans.  Yeah, I know, nobody cares about the humans, but the movie spends most of its time with them, so I should hope that their story is worth the time, right?  Otherwise they could have shaved most of the duration of the movie down to a respectable hour-and-a-half.  After that a brief discussion about the Dinobots, and then tomorrow I will discuss the plot as a whole.

!!!WARNING!!! Spoilers After The Break!!!

So, the humans.  Let's start with Cade Yager, since he's basically the main character of the movie.  Cade is a 34-year-old inventor living in a country home with his 17-year-old daughter.  Cade is a bit of an overbearing parent because he doesn't want her to make the same mistake he and his wife did when they had her at the age she is now.  He's a motivated inventor, but he fails to create anything of worth or profit, and doesn't have a proper job to provide for himself and his daughter.  So that's his conflict.  So how do things end for Cade?  Well, we don't know.  At best we can guess that Joshua is able to give him a job?  That's if his company doesn't get shut down after the Galvatron fiasco.  Otherwise Cade basically spends the whole movie playing the "give humans a chance" role as Optimus's conscience, and meanwhile seemingly learning nothing about his own problems when the movie is done.  Oh right, there is that moment where he reiterates the "some things shouldn't be invented" line that he denounced when his daughter said it at the start of the movie, but it comes out of nowhere and comes-off as sounding like a scientist denouncing science after reading Frankenstein's Monster.  It's as-though the story-writer heard about repeating lines later in a story for the juxtaposition of meaning, but forgot to add the proper context to give the second time around any meaning.  It's just "Oh look, he learned his lesson," except that I'm not convinced.

Next up we have Shane, Tessa's boyfriend.  He starts the movie on a bad foot with Cade, since he spends most of the opening talking about how he forbids Tessa from having a boyfriend until she turns eighteen.  Seemingly playing the role of the boyfriend who's just in it for some sweet ass and doesn't plan to stick around long, Shane is intent on specifically antagonizing Cade throughout most of the movie.  Worse yet, he wants to piss-off the audience by showing-off his cowardice anytime Tessa isn't around; the movie even rubs his cowardice in our faces when Tessa rushes to his arms, ignoring her dad, when they find her in Lockdown's ship, even though he was ready to surrender to some robot guards just moments before.  Yet he continues to go-on about how he's doing all of this "for his girlfriend".  So this is building towards a sort of climax where she sees him for who he is and dumps his worthless ass, right?  Nope!  Oh... so it's building to a redeeming moment where he learns that he should make nice with Cade and shows a moment of bravery so that we as an audience can feel that he honestly cares about and deserves to have Tessa?  No, it doesn't really do that, either.  As far as I can tell, he's the same jerk at the end of the movie as he was at the beginning, except that he gets the girl anyway.  So this puts at 0-2 for the human characters so far.  So what about the third main?  Oh boy...

And then there's Tessa.  She doesn't really do much in the movie except wear the shortiest shorts she can find to show-off that she's got legs for days (okay, so she puts-on pants in time for the main plot to kick-in, but by that point her role as T&A has already been hard-coded into the audience's brain).  There's some conflict with her dad towards the start of the movie, but as I already covered in Cade's description, that never really goes anywhere nor gets resolved.  Outside of that, Tessa's only other job is to play the role of damsel in distress when she is accidentally captured by Lockdown and brought onto his ship.  A plot point that seems to only have been included so that Cade (and Shane) would have a reason to stow away and acquire the sword/gun that he uses throughout the rest of the movie.  So basically, like the rest of the human cast, she has all this set-up for some moral lessons at the end of the movie, but ultimately never pays-off any of it and she consequently ends up being little more than a maguffin for the second act of the movie.  So it seems that they indeed could have cut a lot of the human story to focus on the Transformers, and we wouldn't be stuck with a nearly 3-hour-long movie.

Screw it then, let's talk about the Dinobots.  After-all, pretty much all the promotional material was about them.  The initial teaser all-but said "The Dinobots are gonna be in the next one".  Even the name alludes to dinosaurs.  "Age of Extinction".  So how are they?  Well... they're kinda pointless, unfortunately.  Basically, they were prisoners on Lockdown's ship (apparently Grimlock is even shown during the Act 2 bit on the ship, not that anyone would know, so I don't know why it bothers "teasing" it), and Optimus sets them free.  Optimus comments that "the legend is true" when he finds them on the ship, but the movie doesn't dwell on that.  Anyway, Optimus pleas with them to join their cause, where-in they refuse and Grimlock attacks Optimus.  Optimus wins the fight and mounts Grimlock, and then they ride into battle with the other 3 Dinobots (who aren't even the Dinobots you're expecting) and wind-up being the turning point that wins the battle.  The big problem, aside from the fact that they're in maybe 15 minutes of this 3-hour movie that mostly hyped the Dinobots, is that they never talk.  On the one hand, this makes sense since they've seemingly spent the past 65 billion years in Lockdown's ship (it never explains when or how they got there), but on the other hand it means that they lack any of the personality that made the Dinobots a fan favorite in the first place.  No "Me Grimlock", no simplistic logic, no stubbornness, just nothing.  And after the battle?  Optimus grants them their freedom, and they walk off.  Okay.

My analysis of the plot itself is running a bit long, and it's getting a bit late in the night, so I'm going to break this into two parts.  I hope to have it up tomorrow.

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