NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For a movie as big and as costly as Transformers: Age of Extinction, you would think all of the pieces would work together and fit to make the year's biggest blockbuster.
Unfortunately, the pieces are there, but they never combine for a cohesive cinematic experience.
Being a huge Transformers fan myself, I went into the movie with tempered expectations, given the first three movies had mixed results, despite performing exceptionally well at the box office. This one is no different, having done over $300 million at the box office worldwide, with $100 million in sales from the U.S. and $90 million from China for Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom (VIAB), according to preliminary results from Rentrak.
The acting in this movie is much, much better than in the first three, led by Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer, and Stanley Tucci. Tucci, who plays the CEO of KSI Corporation, a fictional cross between Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Apple (AAPL), is almost Steve Jobs-like in his quest for perfection on screen. He achieves that in the first half of the movie, but toward the latter half, he starts to ham it up too much, and it becomes a bit of a distraction. The rest of the human cast, including Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, T.J. Miller, Titus Welliver and others, play their roles effectively, but no more. They could be replaced by any similar actor or actress in Hollywood, and the movie wouldn't miss a beat.
Turning to the robots, Director Michael Bay did a much better job of character development this time around, (maybe with some help from Hasbro (HAS)?) but still falls short. Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots is more aggressive than usual, but his characteristic nobility returns in the end. Lockdown, the film's main bad guy, was given more lines than the last main bad guy, Shockwave, who for some reason, returned this time around, despite being killed last movie. A bounty hunter who has been sent by "The Creators" to bring back Optimus Prime, Lockdown proves a worthy foe for Prime, much more so than Megatron did in the second and third movies, a major complaint fans have had over the years.
Other Autobots were given more screen time this go round, including Drift (a Japanese samurai bot voiced by Ken Watanabe that turns into a helicopter and black and blue 2013 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse), Hound (voiced by John Goodman, an Oshkosh Defense Medium Tactical Vehicle), Crosshairs (voiced by John DiMaggio, a green Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray), and Bumblebee (2014 Chevrolet Camaro concept).
However, the big draw for this movie was the inclusion of the Dinobots, enormous mechanical robot dinosaurs that wind up helping the Autobots rid the world of Lockdown, and the Decepticons, including the man-made Galvatron. The Dinobots were on the screen for maybe 20 to 25 minutes and had no lines. (Me, movie reviewer, not happy about this one). They weren't even introduced as Dinobots, rather as legendary warriors, who are set free at the end of the movie. Why would you just set free robot dinosaurs to roam the Earth? Doesn't seem like the wisest decision to me.