The Case for Transformers: Age of Extinction
By Ryan O'Neill
July 4, 2014
Another example of not paying attention that I have read numerous times is the complaint of poor editing because of an action scene where Optimus and Lockdown are racing down a street and then suddenly battling on a roof top. Well that objection just fell off of the roof, because there is a scene in between showing them climbing up the side of the building. The critics missed it completely, but that doesn’t matter, it’s another reason to complain about Bay’s directing.
Age of Extinction is the first ever film shot in full IMAX digital 3D cameras. In the history of cinema there have only been six films shot in full 2D IMAX: The Dark Knight, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, The Dark Knight Rises, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The use of this camera for these films ranged from 10 to 35 minutes approximately. I’m bringing this up because a scene using the full IMAX camera is a stunning sight to behold. In addition to using the full IMAX screen, it is the highest resolution camera in the world. Transformers 4 uses this camera for 60% of its length. That crushes the previous precedent. It is also the best 3D that I have ever seen, pushing Avatar into second place. That alone should make for a positive review. I don’t think the plot is as terrible as it is being accused of being but even if I did, I would still recommend this movie because this is a technical achievement that must be experienced in the theater.
I am a fan of Avatar, but it is basically “Dances with Wolves” in space. I don’t care, though, because science fiction is my favorite genre. This is a movie that was nominated for best picture and the critics drooled over, basically because they loved the 3D. The critics ignored how unoriginal, even borderline plagiarized Avatar’s plot was because of the spectacle. Yet they could care less when a film finally surpasses its 3D because it was Michael Bay that did it. That is textbook hypocrisy.
The near three hour length is the next complaint that is frequently used against Transformers 4. One of my defenses against that objection is that you get more value for your money which I think is a good thing in this day and age. However, that can be more of a personal viewpoint and harder to argue against. I have always compared Bay’s technique to a moving painting. Every shot looks like it took a day to complete and cost a million dollars. His lighting and angles are beautiful. In addition, all of his movies have sound effects and a musical score of the highest quality. Obviously, these production values appeal to me more than most people, but I’m sure that some of the critics who call the movie boring because it is too long are art gallery fans. I would like them to explain how they can spend a day appreciating the paintings in a museum or gallery, but can’t stomach a few hours watching the very best visual effects, cinematography, and 3D on a movie screen.