Sweet mother of all that is good and pure in this world, Transformers is by far the best summer movie of the year. Hands. Down.
Ahem, in short:
I was transformed into a fan!
It’s Michael Bay at his finest!
It’s the best time you’ll have at theaters this summer!
This is the movie for which the entire computer-animation industry was created!
And if you think you’ve seen all the good parts in the trailers, think again!
[Note: Yes, I am purposely writing those statements as little pull-quotes which can be slapped upon the film’s subsequent marketing endeavors. Not that it’ll need any more marketing; I expect maaaaaaaaaaaassive box-office numbers.]
In all seriousness, I was truly floored by how good this movie was and how happy it made me. I was never really an avid viewer of the animated series and had only the most-cursory knowledge of the characters, so it’s not like I sat down in the theater as a rabid fan chomping at the bit. I knew director Michael Bay would deliver a big, fat, loud, flashy popcorn movie, and he did not disappoint. The eye-popping action begins about 2.5 minutes into the movie (I actually checked my watch) and doesn’t let up for more than two hours and 20 minutes. Bang for your buck? Heck, yeah!
The always entertaining Shia LaBeouf stars as Sam Witwicky, an average teen whose family legacy is linked to an intergalactic war between two races of hyper-advanced robots, the Autobots (the good guys) and the Decepticons (the meanies). Both are trying desperately to find the “Star Spark,” a mysterious cube that will allow its possessor the power to take over the universe, and it’s up to Sam to help the heroes and defeat the villains or all of humanity will be toast. While he and his hawt new friend (Megan Fox) scramble to stay alive stateside, a group of soldiers (including Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson) in the Gulf find themselves under attack by some decidedly persistent—and indestructible—machines with minds. All the while, the Secretary of Defense (Jon Voight) and a hangar full of computer geniuses try to figure out what the frick is going on.
Transformers fans will not be disappointed—all of the most popular ‘bots are present (and, in some cases, updated), including Optimus Prime (a gleaming 18-wheeler), Bumblebee (Sam’s yellow Camaro), Jazz (a Pontiac Solstice), Ratchet (a Hummer) and Ironhide (a beefy pick-up truck). Of course, what the heroes be without formidable foes? So, batting for the other side are: Megatron (who morphs into an alien aircraft), Starscream (a Raptor jet), Barricade (a police cruiser), Bonecrusher (a Buffalo MPCV) and Frenzy (a boombox). Basically, it’s a whole lotta super-cool, super-fancy metal flying around the screen. The climactic fight sequence between the Autobots and the Decepticons defies description.
Watching Transformers, I had the same feelings I did the first time I saw Robert Patrick’s liquid villain in T2: Judgment Day, or the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, or the titular ship going down in Titanic: WOW. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the effects in this film are stunning and seamless—everything, and I mean everything, looks real. More than once I found myself thinking, “HOW did they DO that??”
But in addition to its impressive action and visuals, the movie is really, really clever. I’d call it “funny,” but I fear that will somehow cheapen this sentiment. The dialogue, some of which was improvised, is quick and smart. Yes, some of it is also cheesy, but having people like LaBeouf, Anthony Anderson, Bernie Mac and a deliciously nasty John Turturro sparring (verbally) onscreen just made me grin. There are just as many laughs as awestruck gasps in this one.
When all was said and done, and Transformers ended, the theater—filled with about 700 people—ERUPTED into applause and cheering. I have never experienced that at a non-festival screening before. Ever. Make of that what you will but I, for one, definitely think this is a cheer-worthy flick, start to finish.
I feel like a sucker. I fell for your full-pie review of Transformers. I thought, “Huh. Maybe my initial instinct to run screaming from a Michael Bay film was wrong. Maybe it doesn’t matter that the film was based on a Hasbro toy… after all, at least one enjoyable movie was made out of a frakkin’ Disney ride. Maybe this will be one of those enjoyable Big Dumb Summer Movies.”
I was wrong. Like Shia LaBeouf running from Megatron, I should have run from this movie. As it was, I certainly was bored enough after the first half hour to cut my $9.75 loss and leave the theater. Unfortunately my friends were having a good time, so I was forced to stay another hour and a half, uncomfortably shifting in my seat, and sighing loudly (a sound no one could hear because of the barrage of BOOM! coming from the screen).
OK, early on there were some funny parts. Like when Sam (LaBeouf) first finds out his yellow bitchin’ Camaro is not quite the beater that he thought it was. Now, I’ve never had a car embarrass me in front of a hot love interest (Megan Fox) by tuning in hokey loves songs on the radio, but it was kind of a cute touch. Well, maybe it was cute the first time, but after the third or fourth or fifth embarrassing song, I wanted to raise my hand and say, “OK. Funny. Now let’s move on.”
Once the movie moves on to the action, it is non-stop, which is I’m sure what people paid their big bucks for. Look at all of these wacky cars, trucks, portable radios, and cell phones unfold and transform into robot beasties inexplicably 20 times as big as their original size. The beasties speak in perfect English despite being from outer space, and learned everything they know about humans from the World Wide Internets. You see, that explains why one robot talks like a B-boy, and another one does a Matrix pose when he is ready to fight. Funny.
The Autobots (good guys) fight the Decepticons (bad guys) by driving around fast as various automobiles, transforming into giant robots, shooting each other, rollerblading on the freeway, rolling and tumbling and sometimes even flying like fighter jets. I started imagining giant boy hands reaching down from the top of the screen, grabbing the robots and banging them together (slam! slam! slam!), “Rrraaahhhhrrr! Megatron, now you must die! Oh, no, it is YOU, Optimus Prime! You will be mine… (bang! bang! bang!) Rrraaaahhhrrr!” In fact, giant boy hands controlling the action probably would have made it a much more interesting movie!
I was expecting it to be clever, but it had the same smirky, tired one-liners as any by-the-numbers action movie. But look! Look at the giant robots stomp on Sam’s parents’ yard while they are all in the house! That’s funny! It’s so funny that let’s make the scene go on for ten minutes with the same joke! Or how ’bout a little evil Decepticon robot that is like a rabid chihuahua, who runs around making little emotive grunting sounds like a gremlin! Or let’s show how progressive we are and make the main computer expert a hot chick… better yet, an Australian hot chick! Oh, and make the love interest a bad girl with a criminal record of hotwiring cars! And since the good guys are so worried about humans becoming collateral damage, let’s move all the action from the remote desert into the big city where millions of people live! (Pointing to my own face.) Do you see me smiling? (Note: Face of stone.)
Shia LaBeouf gets a slice for being a charming lead, and making the best of running a lot and reacting to a blue screen. Another slice goes to a couple admittedly cool transformation scenes, one in particular where one of the bad robots, moving really fast, turns into a speeding police car in one seamless moment. And the last slice goes for me. Why? Well, I should not only be rewarded for sitting through the whole movie, but I’m giving myself extra credit for predicting that there would not only be a rap-metal song during the closing credits but also a new song by the re-formed Smashing Pumpkins. And there was BOTH! Heck, maybe I should give Michael Bay a jingle and offer my services to write the inevitable sequel!
Thanks for listening,