Sunday, 20 April 2014

Age of Extinction Blurb

After three fairly forgettable live action movies and their associated toylines - the best of which somehow conspired to be the toyline for the worst of the three movies - I honestly wasn't expecting much from any continuation of the TransFormers movie franchise. Hell, I wasn't necessarily expecting further continuation at all.

I had some vague hope that another director might be enticed to take Michael Bay's place but, honestly, Bay isn't such a bad director. The problem always seems to be the material (and screenwriters) he's working with and I, for one, am glad to see the back of Kurtzman and Orci in the TransFormers franchise. They are capable of writing good stuff (I recently saw and loved The Amazing Spider-Man 2, for example), but just didn't seem to bother with TransFormers. They were utterly dismissive of the giant alien robots - theoretically the main characters in the concept - in favour of a gobby teenager, his girl troubles and his embarrassing parents.

And so comes TransFormers: Age of Extinction, a movie wholly scripted by the guy who put the coherent story into Dark of the Moon, who turned a movie about a toyline into a Science Fiction Conspiracy movie... The guy who killed off Ironhide in a fairly graphic way (OK, maybe that was the CGI people... but you get the point: Jazz got ripped in half by Megatron and didn't even warrant a footnote, Ironhide dissolved away in front of our eyes after he got blasted with Cosmic Rust by one of the greatest Autobots in the history of Cybertron, who had made a deal with the Decepticons for the sake of Cybertron). Age of Extinction has been described - wrongly, it would seem - as a 'Reboot'. This is a very popular phrase in Hollywood, and is used even on occasions where a new director takes on a new movie in an existing franchise/series. Thing is, AoE is a direct continuation of the story of Dark of the Moon, as evidenced by the posters bearing the legend "Remember Chicago". How can a direct continuation, with one of the same writers and the same director, be considered a reboot?

Probably just because the word is overused. Going from Spider-Man 3 to The Amazing Spider-Man was a complete reboot. Age of Extinction merely marks a change in direction.

There were hints as far back as Revenge of the Fallen that the section of Humankind that was aware of the TransFormers was dissatisfied with their presence, particularly with their reluctance to share technology. What little I know of AoE suggests that a small group of these people have taken matters into their own hands, and intend to combat the alien robots, regardless of their professed intentions or affiliations. It's a bit of a cliché that the 'heroes' of one movie become the pariahs of the next (Christopher Nolan's Batman series, anyone?), but it's an interesting idea when the outcasts are giant alien robots who can transform into terrestrial vehicles, and thereby disguise themselves, at least to our eyes.

While they have thankfully disposed of Shia 'Nonononononono' LaBeouf, the human element of AoE is still fixated on Family. This time, we have 'Marky' Mark Wahlberg as a mechanic, trying to protect his daughter from the alien robot hijinks that ensue when he happens upon a disguised - and apparently deactivated - TransFormer. There also seems to be an intriguing (potentially awful) take on Galvatron, an alien robot bounty hunter whose agenda is currently unclear, and a bunch of humans who are destroying any TransFormer they find. Oh, and the mechanic's daughter has a boyfriend her father doesn't initially know about, just to add a bit of human interest.

Oh, and there might be Dinobots?

Regular readers of this blog may have picked up on my utter disdain for Dinobots, not least because they don't make any sense as part of the internal logic of the franchise. These robots transform for disguise. How is an enormous robotic lizard any kind of disguise? Ever?

I'll admit that some of the Dinobot toys look pretty cool... but I just won't be buying them as I have no interest in robotic dinosaurs, with or without an incongruous 'European Knight' motif (given that they are apparently uncovered in China). In fact, looking at the toyline thusfar, there aren't that many Hasbro releases I'm especially interested in. Neither the Leader Class nor the Voyager Class Optimus Prime look worthwhile compared to the bewildering majesty of Revenge of the Fallen's Leader Class figure (though 'Evasion Mode' Prime looks decent enough, albeit rather too slavishly G1-ified), and I'm not convinced I want another full hive of Bumblebees. Crosshairs looks interesting, Drift has entirely the wrong colourscheme and a silly head sculpt, Galvatron looks like a total shell-former... and, with the Dinobots already well and truly absent from my want list, there doesn't seem to be much else to the toyline. I gather we'll be getting Lockdown... but will the toy have a face that turns into a BFG? Will it even have a BFG attachment?

The Japanese line has some interesting repaints that I may attempt to pursue (RotF Sideways as DotM Mirage, TF1 Payload as Dispenser (the Mountain Dew machine that got AllSparked into life for all of two seconds of screen time) and a fairly decent repaint of DotM Jolt as RotF Jolt, complete with Electro-Whips), but there still aren't that many of them.

That said, here's a quick poll: Yes or No, when you look at Crosshairs, are you hoping for a repaint (preferably, but not necessarily, with a new head sculpt) as Nightbeat?

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