Transformers is a movie based not on a television show, comic book character, novel or cartoon, but instead a line of toys. Sure, Transformers has been there, and done that – but it all started as a toyline. It amazes me that Hollywood has to reach that far to find the next “sure thing.” But thankfully the concept is a good one. How can you go wrong with big alien robots fighting each other? Answer: You really can’t. Truth is, Transformers is the film I’ve been looking the most forward to in this summer of threequels. And it didn’t disappoint.
But you must enter into such a movie knowing that story will not take precedent. It’s probably the last thing on the list. Alien creatures have come to earth in search for a cube that could help create a new world for their near-extinct race. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is the grandson of an explorer who discovered Megatron frozen in the Arctic Ocean. It gets even more ridiculous. Before going into a comatose state Megatron used the last of his energy to engrave a map, showing the location of the Allspark cube, into the Captain’s glasses, and send a transmission to Cybertron. And Sam, aka usename Ladiesman, has put the glasses on eBay in hopes of raising some last minute funds for his first car. Still with me? And as Bernie Mac says, “You don’t choose your first car, your first car chooses you.” But to Sam’s surprise, the car that chose him is an Autobot in disguise named Bumblebee, who has been sent to protect him. And there is a government conspiracy, a group of college age kids who are trying to break a code, a group of US military survivors who have a photo of one of the alien creatures, and oh yeah, a bunch of kick ass action sequences where giant fucking robots kick each others asses.
You must enter into the film with the knowledge of this ridiculous world. Because if you’re looking for super realism, it’s better to look elsewhere (Pixar’s Ratatouille perhaps). I was shocked to learn that the budget for Transformers was somewhere around $150 million. In a day and age when a comedy film can cost over $200 million, and most of the other summer movies need to make over $1 billion to break even, it’s a relief to see a movie made so cheaply. And honestly, you can’t tell from the film. The Transformers look vivd and uber-cool. It doesn’t matter how many times you see a car transform into a big robot, it never gets old. The first transformation of Optimus Prime is EPIC. You’ll see what I mean. And there is just so much in this movie that hasn’t been shown in the movie trailers. There is more action than you could even believe. And sometimes it’s so nonstop that you might not be able to tell who is who or what exactly is going on. And yes, that might be a flaw, but I sat back and enjoyed every second of it.
And yes, Optimus talks, has lips, it’s true – its true. And yes, it’s very weird/odd looking, but you will get over it. Bay has successfully turned each of the Transformer characters into a living breathing character. They aren’t just big metal robots, they are living creatures. Without going into any spoilers, there are moments in the film where you will care for these robots like they were flesh and bones. And that is an accomplishment. I was also surprised at how much I liked the little transforming decepticon named Frenzy.
I was also surprised at how enjoyable the scenes without the transformers played, in particular, the sequences where Sam is on screen. Shia knows how to command an audience’s attention, and he was given a couple good jokes and some good dialogue to make it all worth it. And Megan Fox is good to look at, but frankly, that’s really about it. Does anyone really believe she knows anything about cars? Really now… And this is probably the only time you’ll ever see me write this but, they could have done without John Turturro. I did however enjoy Jon Voight as Defense Secretary John Keller. It was nice to see a big summer Hollywood action movie forego the cliche Presidential character for a proactive military leader.
Michael Bay is one of the flashiest directors in Hollywood today. You could take any 30 second segment out of most of his movies and it could work as a well produced television advertisement. He knows his visuals, and most people believe he goes overboard for no other reason but cool-factor. And I’ve been one of the few people who have enjoyed all of his movies, despite that fact. Transformers is not this type of film however. Gone are the over-saturated, filtered and stylized shots. Bay has matured as a visual storyteller, placing most of the big shots from a human point of view, instead of going for the easy and good looking sweeping hero crane moves we’ve come accustomed to. But it wouldn’t be a Bay movie without his patented cheese. Those cliche moments that happen in slow motion near the end of a film are uniquely Bay.
You will learn why alien creatures turn into cars. My friends always wondered how that was possible since they are earth creations. We also learn why they are called the Autobots. It’s all explained. That’s possibly one of my only complaints: too much is explained. There are scenes of exposition that are unneeded, like the opening prologue. But it’s a minor gripe.
Transformers is everything you might expect, and then some. It’s the type of movie that makes you look forward to the summer movie season. Oh yeah, and you can relive your childhood by sitting back and munching on some popcorn.
/Film Rating: 8.0 out of 10