Every two weeks this column will shed light on the underseen, underrated, or misunderstood. Most films will be vastly different from one another, so just consider this a bi-weekly recommendation from me. This week’s film is Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014).
There is no way I can truly convince most of you that Age of Extinction is one of the best action movies of the last decade, but like always I’ll do my best. Recently I’ve found myself fascinated with filmmakers with a distinct vision, indulging in their work even if it means making something that’s probably going to alienate audiences everywhere. The king of this is none other than the infamous Michael Bay—I’m not embarrassed to call him one of my favorites—almost always operating at such insane heights of his own style that you wonder if he has any self-awareness at all. I truly believe he’s fully aware of how tasteless most of his work comes off, but just doesn’t care. After the first entry in the Transformers franchise (something I consider Bay’s attempt at a mega blockbuster for all audiences) the sequels—specifically Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, and Age of Extinction—are practically just unadulterated Bay movies with robots. With the continued financial success of the series, Bay has been given more freedom, which he takes advantage of, indulging in his own style, upending the rules of what modern blockbusters should be, and besting almost all recent action spectacle movies from a visual standpoint.
In comes Age of Extinction. This is probably a hot take but although I’ve come to prefer Dark of the Moon, I consider Extinction to be the culmination of what he was doing with the sequels and possibly his whole career. It’s the Bad Boys 2 of the Transformers movies (hopefully this makes sense, stay with me). Extinction is by far the most cynical mega blockbuster I’ve ever seen. Bay has no respect for his characters, the American dream, corporate America, and possibly even his almighty robot creations, and it’s honestly nothing short of brilliant. The set pieces are breathtaking, the human characters feel more like caricatures but are easy to root for, and the Autobots—who have lost all faith in the human race—have no problem executing anyone who isn’t on their side. The movie just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and there are actual stakes because it’s an entirely new slab of characters that kind of feel expendable. It’s Bay at his loudest yet most self-assured, and it’s incredibly fascinating to watch. I’m aware it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but in a world of colorless and watered-down genre fare, Bay offers us his crass yet radiant trip through robot hell.
Where to Watch:
Available to rent on VOD platforms ($2.99 SD, $3.99 HD, $7.99 4K)