Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 77
Humans and good Transformers fight bad Transformers for the fate of the world.
Transformers sits at both ends of the spectrum. The plot, attention to premise, and cohesion of the movie crumble into an unrecognizable mess in the final hour. Here the movie essentially transforms into a visual effects extravaganza devoid of common sense and reason. The visual effects, however, are years ahead of their time, utterly convincing, and visionary. The action is wildly entertaining and forceful. For me, the captivating effects and thrilling action overwhelmed the unfathomable stupidity of the film’s last hour. The effects are simply that good. Transformers ends up being one of those rare movies that I would gladly see again in the theater.
Let’s cut to the chase. You here for the answer to one question: Is Transformers any good? Well, yes. And no. In some ways Transformers is an incredible technological and artistic achievement, and a credit to the blockbuster action movie genre. In other ways, it is the stupidest movie I’ve reviewed. Ever.
Let’s start with the happy. It’s impossible to overstate how incredible the Transformers look. The level of detail in their graphics, their fluid movements and lightning–fast transformations, and the sense of weight and power they exhibit are truly impressive. The visual effects are well ahead of their time. The action scenes are for the most part outstanding and highly entertaining. Editing is crisp. The explosions, stunts, and sound add impact to the scenes. The powerful, noisy, and violent action has an escapist and largely bloodless tone, but Transformers is not for very young children. The final Transformer vs. Transformer battle is a wild ride, and satisfying. Having said that, it got a bit tricky for me to tell one Transformer from the other towards the end, and the editing in this one fight made it somewhat difficult to keep track of the details.
On another happy Transformer note, let’s talk about Megan Fox, who drives the Babe rating of this film sky high. I rarely watch TV, so I didn’t know who she was, but seeing her in Transformers makes me think I should watch TV more often. This is not to say that she can act. She can’t. He acting compares to such classics in incompetence such as Cindy Crawford in Fair Game, Eva Mendes in Ghost Rider, and Denise Richards in Starship Troopers. In other words, Fox is unemotional, artificial, and lost in her role. However, the aptly named Fox has one critical thing going for her: she is so hot that she’s a threat to global warming. Don’t get old, Megan! The movie does a solid job of taking advantage of her sensuality, and with a woman this gorgeous I don’t think I could remember what she said even if it made sense. She also gets some help in this regard from the beautiful Maggie Madsen, who plays a computer analyst. From the other side, the Hunk rating on this film is moderately high, with Josh Duhamel and Shia LeBeouf picking up most of the points.
Surprisingly, in many other areas, Transformers fares better than expected. The pace of the movie is brisk and effective. The script has its moments, and the acting, outside of Fox, was effective enough to keep the film moving. The first half of the film is plot-dependent, with many slower scenes that advance the story. What surprised me is that I found myself enjoying these scenes. Shia LeBeouf leads this plot as Sam Witwicky, a dorky, quick-witted high school student whose great grandfather’s explorations end up making Sam the target of the evil Decepticon Transformers. As a lead, he’s likeable, convincing, and at times puts just the right touch on his lines to make them genuinely funny. All in all, he adds a lot to the escapist, lighthearted edge to the movie. Elsewhere, John Turturro (as Agent Simmons) was over the top and more annoying to me than he was entertaining. Josh Duhamel (as Captain Lennox) gets the job done, but little more than that in what turns out to be a generic role. As for the villains, the Decepticons are brilliant in terms of effects, but mostly one-dimensional in their roles. The exception would be the Little Robot, whose hyperactive, evil nature made him moderately entertaining in a clumsy JarJaresque comic relief role.
So far so good, you might be thinking. But aha, now I get to drop my bombs! First, while the first half of the movie pays attention to things like plot and premise, the second half of the movie transforms into an sloppy, lazy, mash of visual effects and action that doesn’t bother to make even the slightest sense.
I knew we were in trouble once we came to what is clearly a candidate for All-Time Stupidest Scene in an action movie. In this scene, Sam has just learned from the good Transformers (Autobots) that the fate of the world hinges on recovering his grandfather’s eyeglasses—which are at his home—before the evil Decepticons can get them. Don’t ask why. Anyway, off they all go to Sam’s house. But it’s night, and late, and Sam doesn’t want to get in trouble with his parents, so he tells the Transformers to stay away. They’re too impatient to stay away. We’re then treated to a long scene where Sam bumbles around trying to shoo the Transformers away from his house, the Transformers stumble around and make a mess of his Dad’s yard as they try to stay out of sight, and the clueless parents wander around and just miss catching sight of the Transformers. Yes, there were a couple of moments that brought a faint chuckle, but the scene is absurd! The fate of the world is at stake and you’re worried about getting in trouble with your parents? I think they would believe you if you pointed to a 60-foot robot standing in your backyard. Sigh.
From there, it goes downhill fast. The plot and premise in the last half of the film are a total disaster. For no reason other than to give half the cast something to do, the evil Mini-robot attacks them in a communications room. In the final battle, civilians huddle by cars right in the midst of the fight instead of reacting to the flight instinct ingrained in us from the dawn of time. After the final battle has gone on for a while, additional Transformers in the city join the battle. What were they waiting for? More over, it’s never clear what happens to them in the end. Did they just disappear?. Don’t even get me started on the general silliness that is brought to the computers/communications concepts with the film. It’s worth noting that the good guys at one point send Morse code by hooking up an old computer to a shortwave radio system and immediately are able to launch an air attack with this. Oh, those crafty good guys!
The crowning moment, though, is when our heroes get the All Spark, which is the source of ultimate power that the good and bad Transformers are all hunting for. I’m not exactly sure why, but they immediately decide to take it on a perilous journey from the Hoover dam to the city. To be honest, I think they mentioned that there was a military base near the city where they could get help protecting the All Spark, but there was probably a close up shot of Megan Fox on screen while they explained this. On the way to the city, the expected Decepticon attack takes place, but the good guys forge relentlessly downtown. Downtown? The military base is the middle of the crowded downtown area? Nope, apparently not, because once there, the battle is so intense that the good guys decide they need to get the All Spark out of the city because there are too many people around. Um, guys, why did you just bring it downtown in the first place? Simply put, the back half of the film is a skeleton of plot wrapped around action. This sloppiness takes away any chance the film had for greatness.
All in all, Transformers sits at both ends of the spectrum. The plot, attention to premise, and cohesion of the movie crumble into an unrecognizable mess in the final hour. Here the movie essentially transforms into a visual effects extravaganza devoid of common sense and reason. The visual effects, however, are years ahead of their time, utterly convincing, and visionary. Despite some choppiness with scene editing and coherence in the final confrontation, the resultant action is wildly entertaining and thrilling. Where does the film end up overall? For me, the captivating effects and thrilling action overwhelmed the unfathomable stupidity of the film. The effects and action are simply that good. Transformers ends up being one of those rare movies that I would gladly see again in the theater.
Megan Fox gained ten pounds of muscle during filming due to the physicality of her role. What physicality, and how skinny was she before the film started?
Consistent Premise: 5
Body Count: 72
Time to First Dead Body: 5 minutes, 58 seconds
Special Effects: 96
Overall: 77 (Visionary effects and strong action overcome stupid plot)
[tags]Transformers, movie review, action movie, Megan Fox, Shia LeBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Michael Bay, film, Autobot, Decepticon[/tags]