What to Expect From "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
With summer just around the corner, moviegoers are primed for the first big action/sci-fi hit of the year. "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the fourth installment of the Transformers film franchise, is poised to be that hit. Viewers can expect lots of action and thrills from what is sure to be a blockbuster.
A Blend of the Old and New
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is not a reboot. The movie hints that its story is on the same timeline as the last film "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Though the human cast is entirely new (led by Mark Wahlberg who takes over the main human role from Shia LeBeouf), the story remains in the live-action continuity established in 2007 with "Transformers."
Director Michael Bay told the L.A. Times: "We're taking the story that you've seen - the story we've told in three movies already - and we're taking it in a new direction. But we're leaving those three as the history. It all still counts." A sign in one of the scenes shown in the trailer reads: "Remember Chicago. Report alien activity," referring to the events that took place in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." "Transformers: Age of Extinction" is set four years after those events.
Where the first three films divided the focus equally between the human characters and the robotic ones, Bay promises that "Transformers: Age of Extinction" will focus more heavily on the robots themselves. Audiences should have plenty of time to get used to the new humans and robots, as the film is slated to kick off its own trilogy with a second to be released in 2017 and a third at an unspecified date.
Audience members should not let the movie's title fool them. The addition of a multitude of fresh robots suggests that the Transformers are not going to be extinct any time soon, despite the U.S. government's efforts to eradicate them after the fierce battle in Chicago. Optimus Prime finds the new army he seeks in the Dinobots, a team of Transformers that morphs into dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures.
Fan-favorite Grimlock, a fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex, proves himself to be a valuable, if not a slightly arrogant, asset to Optimus Prime and the Autobots. However, trailers suggest that the initial meeting between Prime and Grimlock is not all sunshine and roses; a Super Bowl spot shows Prime punching the Dinobot square in the mouth. Additional Dinobots include Slug, the transforming Triceratops, Snarl the Stegosaurus and Strafe the Pteranodon.
Earthlings are even developing transforming robots of their own by reverse engineering the Transformers' technology. A new Transformer called Stinger serves as an example of their work. Stinger is very loosely based on Wasp, a character from the original Transformers cartoon franchise that looked like Bumblebee and later joined the Decepticons. However, the ambitious scientists (one of whom is Stanley Tucci's Joshua Joyce) behind Stinger and the effort to build more Transformers soon discover they may be in way over their heads.
Familiar Voices and Faces Plus New Ones
Fan favorites Peter Cullen and Robert Foxworth return as the voices of Optimus Prime and Ratchet. Bumblebee rounds out the veteran members of the Autobot team. The three are joined by Brains, the Lenovo ThinkPad that first appeared in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and Hound (voiced by John Goodman), weapons master Crosshairs and a samurai Bugatti Veyron called Drift.
With Megatron disposed of in the previous film, "Transformers: Age of Extinction" has Galvatron as its main villain. Galvatron is voiced by Frank Welker who also voiced Megatron in the 1980s "Transformers" cartoon series. Other new Decepticons include the aforementioned Stinger, Lockdown, a bounty hunter that is eyeing Ratchet as his next target and Junkheap, a garbage truck transformer.
Alternative rock band Linkin Park made its mark in the first three "Transformers" films with "What I've Done," "New Divide" and "Iridescent," respectively. The group is back with "Guilty All the Same" for "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and is joined by Skrillex and Imagine Dragons. Skrillex's lent his sound-designed skills to the film, while Imagine Dragons, who also had a featured song on the soundtrack of last year's blockbuster action film "Iron Man 3," have its song "Battle Cry" featured in the film.
Fans of the franchise can expect to walk away from this latest installment awed and satisfied. There is plenty of mayhem, fighting robots and human heroism to please even the most discerning action/sci-fi lover. "Transformers: Age of Extinction" hits theaters on Friday, June 27, 2014.