My experience with the Transformers is limited, indeed.  Years ago I saw the first Michael Bay Transformers movie in the theater with my Geek Patrol friends, and it was a fun but ultimately dizzying experience.  And basically … that’s it.  I never saw another Transformers movie, never watched the TV show, never played with the toys.  I figured that I would still be able to watch this movie and get the hang of what was going on, and I was proved correct.

Trasformers AOE poster

Transformers: Age of Extinction opens with a scene that I had to watch several times before I comprehended that it was showing how the Transformer robot things originally caused the extinction of the dinosaurs on earth.  Mm-hmmm.

Then we meet our human characters, the first being a girl who is very hot, but smarter than we would expect.  Her father is an inventor who is smart, but hotter than we would expect.  The father has a funny and sarcastic friend who is not hot and who I assume isn’t going to live to the end of the picture.  The girl has a secret boyfriend who is also hot and who just happens to be an excellent driver.

Transformers Human CharactersSoon the Transformers show up (specifically our buddies the Autobots, who have been in hiding since humanity turned against them), and then a lot of stuff starts blowing up.  And … that’s basically what happens in this movie.

Oh, don’t get me wrong.  There are nuances here and there, and even a few surprises.  I also got a kick out of the casting, as TJ Miller and Thomas Lennon filled the “comedian in an action movie” roles, Kelsey Grammer played one of his best evil villains since Sideshow Bob, and Stanley Tucci started off as a bad guy but then partway through the movie a switch was flipped and he turned into a comic relief character.

I had two very distinct reactions while I was watching this film.  The first is that I was glad I was watching it on a small screen instead of a big screen.  I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that watching the first film in the theater was a dizzying experience, and seeing this movie on my TV made all the CGI easier for my eyes and my brain to comprehend.  The second reaction I had was, This is exactly how little boys would play with toys in the sandbox!  The more I watched robots slamming into other robots, guns and missiles firing, and things dramatically falling in slow motion, the more I had that same thought.  Then I saw the Dinobots show up, and I saw the Autobots RIDING the Dinobots.

Autobot Riding DinobotAnd then I thought … wait a minute … is this just so that they could sell some Dinobots toys along with the other Transformers toys?  Maybe I was just being cynical.

Dinobot toys … or maybe not.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is a movie about robots that fight each other and the humans that will sometimes help out, sometimes get in the way, and sometimes have to get rescued like King Kong picking up Fay Wray.  It’s about robots that fight each other until they’re all battered and busted-up and dusty and then they transform into cars that ALWAYS manage to look pristine.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTIONI can say that even though this movie was nominated by the Razzies as one of the worst movies of 2014, it wasn’t actually BAD.  It was just okay.  It was exactly what you’d expect a Transformers movie to be.  Winter’s Tale was worse.  Transcendence was worse.  Both of those movies aspired to be something better but ended up falling far below their expectations.  This movie, on the other hand, simply meets our expectations, which when all is said and done isn’t the worst thing in the world.