1. The Uncanny Mechanical Valley
I am impressed by the progression of animation techniques and technology. There are something like 10,000 points of articulation in the computer model of Optimus Prime, and that number is based on information from the first installment of Michael Bay's Transformers. The transformers are becoming more and more intricate, and their physical appearances, especially their faces, are becoming much more human. I don't like that, because they are Cybertronians, not Humans. Lockdown is the worst offender in this regard, as his robot form has no recognizable elements of his alternate forms.
Related, the KSI Transformers, turning into swirling cubes and reassembling themselves in a different location doesn't strike me as amazing, it strikes me as really lazy computer animation.
2. Made for China
The Second half of the movie takes place in Hong Kong, and China, both of which are basically show in a positive light. There is nothing really wrong with this, the Fast and Furious movies take place in countries all over the world, but the feeling is different. There are elements of style and presentation that feel like they were made for another audience. KSI and it's holdings in China feel like a jab at Apple, while the butt kicking Asian PA is almost trope for anime/Kung fu theatre. Movies like Pacific Rim did much better overseas and in Asia than they did in the US. Film makers noticed this, and I think this is the beginning of a shift in production and presentation. Asia is an emerging market, which means we are going to see more and more movies, especially the bigger blockbuster types aiming for a global audience and not a US audience.
Why don't I like this? Because it snaps the movie into two pieces and disrupts the tone of the narrative.
3. The Autobots are Jerks
At some point in the movie, each of the Autobots physically threatens one of the other Autobots, or is themselves physically threatened. Hound is a fat trigger happy slob who kills an alien for being gross, and threatens to shove grenades down Drift's throat. Drift threatens Bumblebee, Crosshairs, and Hound with his swords, and Crosshairs pulls guns on just about everyone. I don't care about any of these jerks. Hound is a caricature of how the rest of the world sees America, Crosshairs is a conniving jerkwad who jeers and sneers from the sidelines. Drift is a one dimensional character made of everything the typical 9 year old knows about Japan. Beyond that, Bumblebee is a fraction of what he was in previous movies, regressing to the butt of the joke, rather than a rising hero.
4. Optimus Freaking Prime
When I was younger, Optimus Prime was inspiring, the heroic leader, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, but not without taking half of the bad guys down first. After four Bay movies, Optimus reminds me more of Liberty Prime from Fallout 3, rather than the heroic even tragic leader, he is a bellowing billboard of one-liners and propaganda. He has the same emotional range as Kirsten Stewart or Steven Seagal.
While I don't expect a semi-truck that turns into a humanoid robot to have the same depth of character as a Shakespearean figure, but I do want something a bit better than WWE level smacktalk and soundbites.
5. The Final Decepticon
There is exactly one Decepticon in the movie, Megatron resurrected as a semi truck formed Galvatron. Lockdown is an independent contractor/bounty hunter. Stinger is a drone, and all of the other 'Decepticons' are drones infected by Galvatron's will. I have always been a fan of the Decepticons, and the first movie made Starscream look good. The second movie gave us Jetfire and the idea that being a Decepticon or Autobot is a matter of personal choice, not a matter of a logo or what you're told. The third movie gave us possibly the best incarnation of Soundwave, and a painful appearance by Shockwave. Age of Extinction gives us so very much less.
This annoys me because that means Galvatron is the last Decepticon on Earth, and the Creators are likely on their way to Earth, meaning that we are going to see whatever Baygasm the Quintessons inspired, and that the remaining Autobots and Decepticons are going to have to team up to fight them. No. Just no.
Side note: As far as I know, there are only three Transformers left from the original cast (Autobot or Decepticon): Prime, Bumblebee, and Mega/Galvatron. All the rest are dead in canon (Ratchet, Iron Hide, Jazz, and almost all of the Decepticons)
6. Wasted Cars
There are some really nice cars in this movie, and they are completely wasted in what they are. The Bugatti Veyron is the fastest production car in the world, built in France, and is incredibly solid planted on the ground for high speed, and is a Samurai robot named Drift. None of that makes sense when there are two Autobots noted for extreme speed, Blur and Windcharger. Windcharger is a C-list, but Blur made it into the animated movie, and was actually fast. At no point in the movie was Drift remarkably fast, which is a complete and total waste of the fastest car in the world. Much the same goes for Stinger, a clone copy of Bumblebee. What car is just like a Chevy Camaro, why yes, a Pagani Huayra. I was really disappointed because I thought we were going to see Hot Rod brought in as a Pagani. Instead, the Pagani is the Darth Maul of the show, looks cool, has no lines, gets killed after accomplishing very little.
I am a serious car guy, and I can accept the fact that the series is basically a commercial for GM produced cars (Lots of Chevy's, Cadillacs and GMCs in the movie, and lots of not GM cars as bad guys) but c'mon!
7. The Dinobots
Billed as the greatest of warriors, tens of millions of years old, and two to three times the size of Optimus Prime, all they can do is roar, spit, slobber and crash around like massive animals. Optimus prime wrestles Grimlock to the ground and then rides him into battle. Awesome? Retarded? Both? I guess it was inevitable, by redeeming Bumblebee from the whiny VW Beetle in the cartoon series to a legit Camaro, something had to give.
This is my #GetOffMyLawn moment, but they've really mucked up my Dinobots and that cheeses me off.
The original Dinobots were Grimlock (T.Rex) Slag (Triceratops) Sludge (Apatosaurus) Swoop (Pterodactyl) and and Snarl (Stegosaurus)
Somewhere along the line they decided to make 'slag' a Transformer 'slur' and Slag the Dinobot was renamed Spike.
Now in the last move we have an unnamed horned Tyrannosaurus Rex, Spike the Triceratops, an unnamed Spinosaurus (Thanks for ripping off Jurassic Park 3) a two headed pterodactyl (seriously, 2 heads???).