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July 3rd, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Stanley Tucci, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, Peter Cullen, Frank Welker, John Goodman, Ken Watanabe, Robert Foxworth, Mark Ryan, and more.

Directed by: Michael Bay Written by: Ehren Kruger Cinematography by: Amir Mokri Music by: Steve Jablonsky

Premise: Five years after the battle in Chicago, both Decepticons and Autobots find themselves being hunted down by the humans. Unbeknownst to them, there's an alien helping the humans. One who wants nothing more than to get his hands on Optimus Prime. Yet it is Cade Yeager who finds the leader of the Autobots. And when a well meaning friend rats them out to the CIA, Yeager and his daughter are forced to flee for their lives, with Optimus lending them protection. The group goes forth trying to find answers. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Thumbs Up: Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, and Jack Reynor have some decent dynamics to play with in the film. Stanley Tucci was perfect for the high roller business man, but the comedy bits they tacked on to him later on did not fare as well. While Kelsey Grammer's performance was great, his character still didn't quite make sense aside from the usual cutout of the corrupt, unhappy CIA agent. Bingbing Li was a lot of fun, but underused.

2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Towards the end of the film there is a ton of combat, and it looked great. The giant ship, the magnet and the effects on the cars, ships, and Transformers were pretty spectacular. The explosions, missiles, collisions and more, were well done. They were stingy at first about showing the transformations, but once Optimus was active again, we got plenty.

The meshing of scenes with the live actors and the CGI ran incredibly smooth for the most part. The fire breathing tyrannosaurus rex was worth the wait. I have to say, however, that the new morphing for the improved Transformers was very cool, but later jarred because though they kept saying the metal had the ability to transform into just about anything, they still kept the new bots to only changing into humanoid and vehicle forms.

Best sequence of the film was the beginning one, back in prehistoric times. The bird like dinosaur was adorable and made for a really nice POV character. What the seed did there was amazing in its brutality and a cool piece of work.

3) Plot/Story - Neutral: The script was very character heavy, and a lot of them seemed to have been shoved in there with no real background or need, other than convenient for explanations or getaways. Worse, they tried to add bits of comedy here and there, and for the most part, they fell flat.

The overprotective father routine was cute at first, but they dragged it along bringing it up a few too many times. It would have also worked better if Cade had initially done more to help Optimus wake up than just connecting him to a car battery. Since the man's dream had been to invent something, it would have been nice to see something he'd thought of that ended up making the difference with bringing Optimus back, but alas...

A lot of the science was looser than usual. Interstellar drives normally aren't used in atmosphere because they tend to mess it up. When the bad bot's ship left the first time, it never even caused a ripple. Kinetic energy was pretty much ignored multiple times as the humans were thrown into the air, the Autobots transforming around them and catching them mid leap or fall. The falling glass alone would have cut the humans into ribbons.

Also, while most of us can suspend disbelief about the Transformers shifting into human vehicles to stay hidden, they took things too far with a couple of the characters. Hound and Drift in their normal shapes were a bearded, cigar smoking, sergeant and a samurai warrior - but they are aliens! They've lived for hundreds of years, so why would they have been made to resemble a sergeant and a samurai? It made no sense at all.

Worse, one of the Autobots in the film is a trouble causing semi-coward, and the rest suffered from infantile infighting. And when they find a weird space creature being kept as a prisoner in the giant ship? Hound kills it because it's ugly. What message are they trying to impart here?

There was also information they sprinkled here and there but never with enough substance to ground the viewer. It was enough to confuse and make us feel like we were missing something though. And they never do tell or show what happened to the giant ship!

There were no real surprises in the script. This plot line has been done over and over. There was little that was unexpected or something to get excited about.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of combat scenes, explosions, gun play, and buildings being destroyed. Tons of pedestrians having to jump out of the way of speeding cars, falling busses, buildings, fishing boats and all manner of things. Nice work there.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of varied locations which gave the film a broad feel. Texas didn't exactly look like Texas, but they did film there. The Blue Cross Blue Shield offices in Illinois made for a neat venue to represent the offices of KSI. Even better were all the shots in China taking us from opulent offices and laboratories to the common streets and buildings.

Lots of lovely shots of the horizon with the sun setting. The Monument Valley shots were nice as well.

Conclusion: "Transformers: Age of Extinction" was overall somewhat disappointing. It looked good, but we didn't see anything new. The plot was typical with no surprises. Lots of two dimensional or convenient characters.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better For Matinee)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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