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Transformers: Age of Extinction

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After three long years, Optimus Prime and the Autobots have finally returned to cinema screens – but this latest offering from director and Transformers veteran Michael Bay may disappoint some fans.

Since the events of Dark of the Moon, the alliance between the humans and Autobots has soured and our favourite alien heroes are now public enemy number one, ruthlessly hunted into near extinction by a zealous faction of the CIA.

Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) is a down-and-out single father on the verge of losing his home when he discovers a beat-up old truck and decides to restore it for easy money. Enter Optimus Prime (once again voiced by Peter Cullen), but the once-proud leader of the Autobots is just a shell of his former self. Jaded by his time in hiding, Optimus has little interest in saving humanity, until a crack team of agents led by James Savoy (Titus Welliver) swarm Cade’s farm and threaten him and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz).

Branded a traitor and relentlessly pursued by Savoy and his team of Matrix-inspired agents, Cade teams up with Optimus to clear his name.

Wahlberg delivers a plausible performance as the hapless Cade and there are funny moments in this film, but the idea of this clueless “farm boy” taking on the government, committing acts of espionage and grappling with an advanced alien species is less credible than previous Transformer film plots.

Peltz’s Tessa is a stereotypical teenager, while Jack Reynor adds to the hilarity as her “secret” boyfriend Shane. Two well-known actors among the cast are Kelsey Grammer as the despicable Harold Attinger, whose “us versus them” mentality inspired the persecution of the Autobots, and Stanley Tucci, who plays Joshua, an egotistical businessman hoping to harness the power of the Autobots for his own devious purposes.

Like its predecessors, Age of Extinction delivers impressive special effects and explosive action sequences, but I was disappointed with its lacklustre 3D element, which did little more than highlight the ash and debris after each fight scene. There are times when the plot seems unnecessarily drawn out, and the film’s largely political storyline often sees the Autobots sidelined in the conflict between Cade and the US Government.

For fans of the Transformers series, it’s unfortunate that so few of the favourite Autobots return. There is also a noticeable difference in the personalities of those who do feature – although their appearances have been greatly improved.

Despite strong action sequences and an experienced cast, this latest addition really lets down the franchise. Perhaps it’s time to retire the Autobots while audiences still have good memories of them.

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