A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth installment in director Michael Bay's toy-based franchise, starring a new cast of characters but featuring the same amounts of over-the-top violence and explosive action audiences have come to expect from these films. The dialogue is peppered with strong language, mostly "s--t" or "ass," but there's also the occasional "a--hole" and one use of "f--k." As for sex, while there's only one big kiss, more problematic is the movie's pervasive objectification of women, with nearly all of the female characters wearing tight, revealing clothes. Families sensitive to racial stereotypes may not appreciate the way some of the Autobots talk or how, in one scene, it's implied that all Chinese people are magically experts at martial arts. Despite all its many iffy elements (and the nearly three-hour runtime), this film will appeal to teen boys who enjoy action flicks. While younger kids may be interested, especially if they play with the Hasbro toys, this series is best for older kids who can handle the non-stop chaos and massive destruction.
What's the story?
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION picks up after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon: A CIA black ops unit headed by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is hunting down the remaining Autobots with the help of Decepticon bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan). Meanwhile, in small-town Texas, Cade (Mark Wahlberg), a single father/nearly broke inventor buys a damaged old 18-wheeler in hopes of stripping it down for parts. But he quickly realizes it's not a normal truck: It's a Transformer -- Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). Cade; his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz); and her secret boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor), are immediately drawn into a fight with the brutal black ops agents. Optimus helps the trio escape, and together they join the remaining Autobots in fighting the corrupt government agents, Lockdown, and a new threat: a visionary CEO (Stanley Tucci) who's found a way to create an army of Transformers.
Is it any good?
This movie is saddled with cliched dialogue, sexist and stereotypical characterizations, and an overlong plot that never seems to end. Michael Bay is known as an overconfident director of mega-budget action films. While he admittedly has the technical skills to make the genre occasionally thrilling with his signature use of slow-mo shots during fast-paced battle sequences, there are really only a few moments when a discerning audience will feel they got their money's worth in this latest, ridiculous installment. Otherwise, unless you're a tween/teen, it's probable you'll end up rolling your eyes through the bulk of Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Let's not even harp on Reynor's terrible Irish accent (the screenwriter should have just made him Australian, since the Aussie actor's Irishness was only brought up once), on the gratuitous but predictable shots of women's bodies (every female character looks like a model and wears tight or revealing clothes), or on the laughable plot developments that reduce all Chinese characters into martial arts experts and all political employees into either hacks or traitors. In the end, the run time tells it all. With very few exceptions, action movies have no business being nearly three hours long. At least Tucci looks like he's having a blast playing a Steve Jobs-like innovator, and the friendly Autobots will be met with applause. But even a few admittedly awesome, jump-worthy action moments can't save this from being yet another hugely expensive but ultimately mediocre installment in a franchise that just needs to end.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Transformers movies' violence. Is it realistic and frightening, or does it have less impact because Transformers don't exist? How does Transformers: Age of Extinction differentiate between Transformer-on-Transformer violence versus violence against humans?
As in previous movies in the franchise, there are again some instances in which characters of a particular gender, ethnic, or racial group are depicted in a stereotypical manner. What do you think about those stereotypes? Does it matter whether they're depicted in the Transformers or in human characters?
How do you think this installment compares to the previous Transformers movies? Do you think there should be more?
Why do you think the movie focuses so much more on the various female actresses' bodies than on those of the male actors? What message does that send?
- In theaters: June 27, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 2014
- Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer
- Director: Michael Bay
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Robots
- Run time: 166 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.