While we were all waiting for the new James Bond movie to come out, our attention was turned to another franchise that came out with a new movie last year. The Transformers were back, and so was our fandom for these cartoons and the characters within. In 2014, it was all about the action and the robots fighting each other.
When it comes to movies, we like our action. And what better way to show off our excitement for a new movie than by going to see it multiple times? Well, for those of us that are huge fans of the Transformers, it was the perfect opportunity to go see them in the big-budget action movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, many times. The opportunity to go see Optimus Prime in person was too good to pass up. Plus, this movie was going to be the debut of Mark Wahlberg as the human incarnation of the trombone-shaped robot, “Beetlebum”, so it was going to be a big deal.
And then there was also the matter of Robert Pattinson. Many of us hadn’t seen the Twilight movies, but we knew of the vampire star’s work ethic and how much he had on his plate. So, as much as we wanted to see the Transfomers in action, we were also interested in seeing how Pattinson would handle the big-budget blockbuster that would make or break his acting career. After all, he wasn’t always going to be known for his action movies.
The Big-Budget Blockbuster That Is Breaking Convention
The first question that comes to mind when thinking about Transformers: Age of Extinction is, “How was it made?” It was a challenging question to answer because, well, it wasn’t like any other Transformers movie. This was the first movie in the series to be shot in 3D, and it was also the first time that Michael Bay had ever directed an “A”-list movie. And then, of course, there was the money. This was a massive production with a $200 million budget, which is a lot of money for an “unknown” actor like Pattinson. For reference, the second highest-budgeted movie of 2014 was Jurassic World, which cost $150 million to make. So, you can see why many were curious about how this one was going to turn out.
What Bay did differently this time was not only shoot the movie in 3D, but he opted for a more practical, “realistic” approach to CGI – which is a lot more expensive and time-consuming than traditional animation. He also wanted to push the envelope and try new things, so he made the decision to go with a more practical approach to combat, which meant giving the audience a more grounded sense of reality.
The results of all these changes are, for the most part, excellent. We got to see more of the world through the eyes of the bots, which is something that fans have been asking for since the beginning. The action is non-stop for the majority of the movie, and it never feels dull or predictable, which is a feat for a blockbuster with this much action. Plus, the practical approach to combat makes perfect sense because these bots aren’t cartoons, they’re real robots that look and act like real robots. For the most part, this was a good call by Bay – aside from the overly-intense action scenes, which are a bit much for anyone to watch more than once.
Pattinson Does Great
While we’re on the subject of the director, let’s talk about one of the bigger casting coups of the year. Mark Wahlberg is an actor that we know and love from his work in films like Boogie Nights and The Departed. He’s been a great addition to the Transformers franchise, and it was great to see him finally get to show off his acting chops in a big-budget Hollywood movie. One of the benefits of working with big stars like these is that they bring in a lot of publicity for your movie, and even if the movie itself isn’t that good, it doesn’t matter because it’s associated with these huge stars.
Pattinson did great. Maybe too great. Some people have commented that he had the hardest job in the industry this year, and with good reason. The guy is talented, but he’s not exactly a blank slate, and Bay had every right to expect some improvement from him. There were times when he was over-the-top, which made the audience smile but which didn’t translate well to the screen. This was because he’s an excellent real-life actor but has a hard time bringing that same energy and commitment to acting. He also seems to have an unnatural attachment to Michael Bay, which is a director that more often than not, doesn’t like to give his collaborators the credit they deserve. He’s a demanding boss that doesn’t always treat his staff kindly.
So, while you shouldn’t necessarily take this as a critique of Pattinson’s performance, it’s important to note that this is a person that Bay can be difficult to work with. Which is probably why he decided to part ways with him after two movies. That’s a lot of pressure for anyone, but especially someone with Pattinson’s talent. It’s a testament to his talent that he was able to carry so much weight for such a long time, but these pressures began to take its toll, and it was only a matter of time until he broke down. He still has a lot more to offer, but with the right team around him, he could really flourish.
The Reaction From Fans
Fans of the Transformers went to see it multiple times. Not only did we see Mark Wahlberg kick ass, but we also got to see a lot of our favorite bots and characters from the “childhood” of some of us. In some cases, it was the first time that we had seen certain characters in action since the 1980s, which is definitely a testament to how much care was put into making sure that this was a memorable experience for anyone that watches or has watched the series. More than anything else, this was about preserving the “magic” of the Transformers for ourselves and for future generations. As such, it seems that fans of the franchise were more than willing to help pay for Mark Wahlberg’s trombone.
The fact that Transformers is such a huge part of our culture and zeitgeist means that we’re always going to have an interest in it. Unlike other film series that have one or two entries a year, each new entry in the Transformers saga is a veritable monster that is going to keep us busy for months. This was especially true in 2014, when we got not one but two full-length movies, which is more than enough to keep us going for a while. If anything, this is the type of series that we can’t really stop watching once we’ve started. Even if we wanted to, we’d be hard-pressed to find the motivation to stop caring about these amazing characters and this amazing world that we’ve come to love so much.