Reviewed by Markus Watson
Rated PG-13. Running time: 2 hours 45 min.
Our content ratings (0-10): Violence 8; Sex/nudity 4; Language 3.
Our star rating (0-5): 3
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Let me say first that I love the Transformers. As a kid during the 80’s, Transformers were probably my favorite toy; and the after-school Transformers cartoon was probably my favorite cartoon.
Which is why, for me, these twenty-first century Transformers movies are kind of frustrating. There’s lots of action. Lots of explosions. Lots of special effects. And very little substance.
This latest movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, introduces a new set of human characters led by Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), a second-rate wannabe inventor who buys an old broken-down truck and discovers it is actually Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), leader of the benevolent Autobots.
Because of the destruction wrought in the battles between the Autobots and Decepticons in the previous movies, humans have grown to hate all Transformers. As a result, CIA agent Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammar) establishes a unit whose sole purpose is to hunt down and destroy all Transformers. This, of course, leads to lots of chasing, shooting, threatening, transforming, exploding, and wisecracking.
What Cade, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), her boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor), and Optimus Prime don’t know is that Attinger is being assisted by another alien robot who is searching for Optimus Prime.
Meanwhile, Attinger is working with billionaire tech mogul Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), who is attempting to create man-made Transformers. More specifically, he is building a Tranformer he calls Galvatron, using the remains of Megatron as a blueprint. Though he believes he is taking advantage of Megatron to achieve his own ends, what Joyce doesn’t know is that Megatron is fully conscious and is actually using Joyce to come back in the form of Galvatron (Frank Welker).
One of the unfortunate ironies of this movie revolves around the Dinobots (a fan favorite), who were heavily promoted as playing an important part in Age of Extinction. The movie, in fact, opens with a scene on prehistoric Earth. An alien ship uses a weapon to turn all animal life into metal. It seems that this will be the origin of the Dinobots; the movie sure seems to be set up for that. But when the Dinobots finally do appear—almost at the very end of the movie, by the way—their appearance has absolutely nothing to do with what seemed to be set up as the back-story for the Dinobots. It left this movie-goer thinking, “Huh?”
If this movie has a theme, I suppose one could say that it has to do with power struggles. Throughout the film, we see the struggle for control in Cade and Tessa’s relationship. We’re also presented with the question of who is actually in control when it comes to Joshua Joyce and Galvatron.
Theologically speaking, the question of control is an important one. It comes up in the tension between ideas like predestination and free will. The question of control also emerges in the struggle with sin. To what extent can we control our sinful nature? How much power does sin have over a person? And how does God fit into that power struggle?
In Romans 7, the apostle Paul expresses his frustration over his struggle with sin. Who really is in control? Himself? Or the sin within him? In the end, Paul rejoices that ultimately God is in control. And because of that, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
A set of reflection/discussion questions are included with the review in the August issue of Visual Parables.