Transformers

More than meets the eye!
‘Transformers' rolls into theaters

(July 4) As a child sitting on the floor in my living room, I recall the images on the television screen with a stark lucidity reserved only for the most mystifying of childhood memories. Cars, planes, tanks, helicopters - they all turned into giant robots. Transformed, rather, like the title of the cartoon suggested.

Well, that was the 1980s, and now, 20 years later, those robots in disguise have made their way to the silver screen with some help from director Michael Bay ("Armageddon," "The Rock") and executive producer Steven Spielberg ("War of the Worlds").

For those of you unfamiliar with the popular cartoon series, "Transformers" revolves around two races of alien robots, the Autobots (good guys) and those dastardly Decepticons (never would have guessed these guys are evil, right?). Well, long story short - these robots come to Earth and assimilate among us by mimicking the technology we use in our everyday lives, thus transforming into automobiles and various electronic gadgets like iPods.

Of course, the robots (kudos to Industrial Light and Magic for jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring special effects) are the stars of this film, but the story needs earthly characters to give it a touch of humanity. So, at the center of this mechanized madness is Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), your average teenager eager to get behind the wheel of his first car - a peculiar, beat-up yellow Chevy Camaro bought from lot owner Bobby Bolivia (Bernie Mac).

Little does Sam realize that he is behind the wheels of Bumblebee, an Autobot that has been on Earth for years, playing guard dog in case any of those nasty Decepticons show up.

Sam attempts to impress cool girl Mikaela (Megan Fox), but his new car complicates things. Bumblebee's habit of playing the right song ("Sexual Healing," for instance) at the right moment only increases the awkward tension between them.

The machine really freaks Sam out when it drives away in the middle of the night and transforms into a giant robotic being with a bat-signal style light beam coming out of its chest.

Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers in Qatar have been attacked by one of the bad guys, a helicopter that transforms and destroys everything in its path. Secretary of Defense John Keller (Jon Voight, channeling Donald Rumsfeld) calls an emergency meeting to analyze the data but another Decepticon (this one small in stature, but evil nonetheless) has hacked into Air Force One's computer.

And here's where things get nuts. The Decepticons are after Sam. Well, they don't really want Sam so much as they want to find a discovery made by one of his ancestors, an Arctic explorer.

In order to understand the backstory of this ancestor, Optimus Prime (voiced beautifully by Peter Cullen) gives us a dose of Transformer history, explaining the Autobots home planet, Cybertron, was ravaged by a civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. In their search for an all-powerful cube called the Allspark, both sides learn that super-evil Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving of "Matrix" fame) crashed in the Arctic a millennia ago, and with him the Allspark. It just so happens that Sam's great-great-grandfather possesses an artifact that will lead to the Allspark's location.

And that's it. The plot is clean and simple. You're in for the ride of your life from this point forward. It's nothing but huge robot-on-robot action with tons of explosives and metal-lovin' mayhem, or shall I say "Bayhem," as Michael Bay seems to specialize in this kind of glitzy testosterone-fueled action. He shoots the robots like a sleazy porn director, making each gear and joint look like pure sex.

I would also like to commend LaBeouf for completely encompassing every geek's dream of being a hero and fighting alongside robots while getting the damsel. He plays the role of Sam Witwicky flawlessly and stands out as a shining comet above a star-studded cast. LaBeouf is the next big thing, kids.

This film is the jewel of a dull and lackluster summer at the movies. "Transformers" falls in line with other great, game-changing films like "Star Wars," "Jurassic Park," "Independence Day," and "The Matrix."

The special effects are top notch and push the envelope. If you are not dazzled and amazed by some of the spectacles flashing on the screen, then I can only conclude you have personally seen real robotic beings battling it out in the streets and cities of America.

If that's the case, then you, my friend, are one lucky person.

Don't joke yourself and say, "Oh I'll wait and catch that on DVD." You'll be missing out on a truly amazing theatrical experience. "Transformers" is visually arresting and a trailer truck-load of fun.

I got to be a 6-year-old boy again for nearly two and a half hours. You can't beat that.

Reviewed by: adam
35 Comment(s)
Shea said...
I understand your childhood love for these giant robots BUT I dont know...i enjoyed myself but I would have given it maybe 3 ***
Andy said...
Wait...what movie did you see right before you reviewed Transformers?
Shea said...
I was waiting for this to be in the spotlight...ugh....its fun and cool...the perfect Bay movie...but is that really saying much? He is a visual master but not an amazing story teller. I was bummed it got snubbed at the oscars and I loved some of the scenes. I hated the Johns(V and T) Shia was cool(I hope he doesnt play the same character in Jones) The girl was whatever. I liked his parents. I hated the little cell phone transformer sneaking off air force one. I loved scorpion coming out of the sand in slow motion. I hated the "lets drag bumble bee behind the tow truck"I loved the black guy getting thrown through the glass door and into the pool. I get tired of Bays crazy camera swooping transitions and I am tired of his same score being recycled through every movie. I dont know...maybe I just saw it too many times. I enjoy it but I dont think it is great. I hope it wasnt almost in your top 50 Paul.
squib said...
Here is my take. The story was weak and simple, but is a Transformers movie and I would not have expected anything different. I am pretty much indifferent when it comes to the cajun kid. The girl was hot, but what else would you expect. The animation was absolutely ground breaking. Not because no one has animated anything like that before in the way of creatures or animated characters or environments. However, I have never seen such a seamless interaction between the animated and non-animated. When those robots were crashing into buildings and debris was flying everywhere, it didn't even register in my mind that I was watching an animated movie. That is what was so cool about this movie. Still, I don't think this film could cut the mustard and make it into my personal collection.
Shea said...
Well played Squib... I totally agree.
Adam said...
The problem is some of you, I won't name names, have no immediate connection to the subject matter. You're viewing it as a Michael Bay action movie, and it's just not the case. It's more than a movie, I'm sorry to sound so cheesy but it's part of a childhood coming to life.

And it WAS on Paul's top 50, and mine as well, because obviously it spoke to us in different ways, supercharged different parts of our hearts and minds, and we will make NO APOLOGIES for loving it - none whatsoever.

I think, to give this movie a 3, is a bit of a sham. You're too caught up in your aristic self to remember when to have fun shea-shea. Michael Bay wasn't trying to make Metropolis - he was trying to kick my robot-lovin ass all over the theater, and he suceeded...

FIVE!
Paul said...
I don't know if it was ever officially on my top 50...it certainly was close.

I couldn't agree more with Adam, I think this movie was incredibly entertaining, even if I DIDN'T watch the cartoon as a child. I love that they're not just robots, they have personalities and characters that we care about. I love that the soldiers aren't just cannon fodder, but they serve a purpose and actually have a role in the end of the movie. There are some flaws, e.g. the blonde hacker, but are vastly overshadowed by everything else done so right.

Shea/Andy, I don't know why you guys can't enjoy this movie, I mean really enjoy it. As Adam said, there's sometimes when you need to put the critic aside and go for a ride...and a HELLOVA RIDE, AM I RIGHT?!?
Adam said...
LoL... Well, it was on the list you sent me... so maybe you subconsciously put it there, I don't know.

Yeah, the blonde hacker's storyline was bad, and hey - I didn't like Frenzy either, the little gadget-bot but so what? The experience was amazing!

Andy said...
I can enjoy a movie without overrating it. If the cool parts weren't interrupted with so many stupid parts, I would have enjoyed it more.
Nick said...
I agree with Adam and Paul. It is what it was meant to be, and that's pure fun. The biggest flaw, as stated, was the hacker subplot, but it really was shadowed by everything else. And I like Shia, too... and Megan Fox is hot.
Andy said...
If you hadn't been ushered into puberty by these giant robots, you wouldn't be so blind to the flaws. And, Adam, it's time you accepted that Optimus Prime is not coming back to ask you to be co-ruler of Cybertron. So feel free to tell the truth about Transformers without fear of repercussions. And, frankly Paul, I expected better of you.
Adam said...
Sorry Andy,

We didn't all get the privilege of growing up with "Kaidan" and "Suspiria" haha
Nick said...
I actually wasn't ushered in with Transformers... honestly, I never watched the cartoon, I've never seen the original movie, nor did I own any of the toys (I did, however, watch and own some Beast Wars).
Andy said...
Hehe...Good one Adam. But I won't be distracted by your childish making fun of my top 50 list. I grew up watching Spiderman but i can still see that Spiderman 3 sucked. What other movies will you give a pass to?
"5 preemptive stars for GI Joe! I loved that show when I was 7." says Adam Frazier
Shea said...
Ha...yeah Adam must have watched The Other Boylen Girl before seeing transformers.

Adam and Paul...Transformers was fun that is why I give it 3 stars. Squib is right on with his comments about effects ect ect.

Paul...relate to the Robots? Thats ridiculous...Optimus was the only one with real speaking parts. The others just did guerrilla flips under bridges and pissed on John T. Bumble Bee played the radio for us and had the horrible Bay cheese of getting reved through the LA warzone by a 16 year old girl hijacker. In my opinion the robots were faceless pull strings that filled the hole between action. And dont give me that "watch the show as a child " ish. Lets go get Heman with Dolph and dance to the little nomes keyboard.

Andy has good points and amazing stabs with his comments so I want reopen wounds.

Susperia is amazing and so is is Kaidon. I suspose the 8 hour JFK is in your top 50 Adam or maybe the other ten classics that you have never watched but are in your collection like Good Bad Ugly and Darkman(ha)...oh and Remote

We all have our top 50s with our own reasons. We all like or hate transformers for our own reasons.

So you guys can use your 5 stars on Transformers and Prince Caspian and I will save mine for Diving Bell, Persepolis, and There Will Be Blood...and Juno...oh...and The Decent...and maybe Doomsday.
Paul said...
Andy: "If you hadn't been ushered into puberty by these giant robots, you wouldn't be so blind to the flaws".

Can I just ask, what was so flawed about it? What was so wrong that you couldn't get caught up in such a fun and amazing movie?

I might be opening a can of worms here, but I am going to compare it to the FIRST Pirates of the Caribbean. Johnny Depp in a Disney ride? Give me a F*ing break. But oh wait, this movie is...actually pretty funny, and damn entertaining. Wow, cool and unique characters, and an actual clever story...this isn't half bad. Now, I could look at that movie and say, "yeah but it was based off a ride at Disney World (that maybe I never rode), and there are so many flaws that my elitist self simply cannot overlook". Or I can say, "for what they were trying to make, they made it nearly perfect", and I can love it every time for what it is.

...but dear God I hope Transformers 2 is nothing like the Pirates sequels :-/
Paul said...
Don't be so shallow Shea, are you telling me because Bumble Bee doesn't talk, he has no character? Gosh, if only you were more of an artist you might understand...
Shea said...
That's a stupid and ridiculous thing to say. Don't be an ass.
Paul said...
Shea "Thats ridiculous...Optimus was the only one with real speaking parts."
Shea said...
I dont like Pirates of the Carribean at all. The second one was my favorite. First one was nothign but a Disney ride to me. The third as dead as Alien 4.

I just dont get off on campiness or cheese in any movie that touches on action or that may have a darker underlying theme. I dont do well on a rollercoaster of intense and slap stick. That is exactly what Pirates is to me. I am not saying Dead Mans Chest isnt...i am just saying I like it more than the first.

Transformers for me was a rollercoaster...scenes where I am really loving it and scenes where I am taken out and reminded this its just another Michael Bay thrill ride.

I remember watchin Batman Begins and I was so completely absorbed for over 2/3 of the movie. I have never been so sucked in before. That is pure cinema magic. Transformers although maybe for you and George Bush's ding dongs that little slice of cinema escapism...it was nothing more than a summer thrill ride for me. Get outa my face, outa space, and off my art.
Shea said...
"You have betrayed me for the last time Star Screeeam!!!!!"

Andy said...
Good thing about Transformers: Bad-ass Robots fighting and destroying things

Bad things about Transformeres: Unoriginal, weak story... cliche, unnecessary side love story...cheesey, laughable dialogue...computer hacking....GM products all up in my face the whole time

I enjoyed it, but it is definitely not a 4.5 - 5 star movie. 3 at the most. It did what it was supposed to do and no more. It was fun but nothing innovative...nothing original. Rating it that high tells me you think it was an almost perfect movie. Is that what you are saying?!?
Paul said...
For what it was, yes, it was almost perfect. Is it as perfect as, what was that Shea, Doomsday or the Descent? No, because they're different movies trying to accomplish different things. And I think "nothing innovative...nothing original" is a bit of a stretch.

...Shea you hurt my heart
Nick said...
I agree... you can't compare movies like Transformers with movies like There Will Be Blood. They're trying to do different things, so they have different merits.

To me, TWBB was a great movie as an Oscar-y drama. Transformers was great as an action blockbuster. The latter might not be flawless Oscar material, but that doesn't stop it from being great for what it was. If you compare the movies (which you can't), sure, it'll have 3 or less stars at most. But if you compare Transformers to other action blockbusters, it'll have higher... which is what Paul and Adam are saying.
Andy said...
I think it is safe to say that the "3-star" team has won. So let's move on to another movie.
Paul said...
Hahahah...oh Andy
Adam said...
Haha, I knew Shea would have to fall back on his same, tired comebacks.. I actually watched "The good, the bad and the ugly" this week and eh, it's good enough I guess.

Anyway, JFK is great at what it does - which is in no way comparable to Transformers. It's like comparing Varsity Blues with Run Lola Run.

Shea talks about Batman Begins being so amazing, yet he left it off his list like 5 times, haha. - And he throws JFK out there but hasn't seen it either, hmph - weird.

Transformers was a blockbuster, it wasn't an independent art film - it's been the best blockbuster in recent years. I'd say it's probably, to me, the best thing since Jurassic Park - as far as blockbusters go.
Andy said...
True that comparing completely different movies is not always fair. But it doesn't take a critic from moviehole to recognize that a weak script is still a weak script no matter how many cool action scenes or robots you throw in it. A movie full of useless characters, terrible dialogue and warmed over plots doesn't deserve 4.5 stars no matter what you compare it to. Now you are just talking in circles and trying to distract with irrelevant arguments....just like a liberal.
Nick said...
I've said it many times before... but it doesn't matter whether or not a movie has cheesy dialogue or bad acting. You can still love a movie regardless (Take Army of Darkness for example. Camp and badness all around, but the movie is still freakin awesome).

Besides, movie reviews are typically based on opinion anyway... so if, in your own opinion, you love a movie, you'll give it a higher score. Technicalities don't always matter when it comes to rating a movie. If you enjoy it... good score. If you don't enjoy it... bad score. It's as simple as that.
Adam said...
Amen

Now praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
Shea said...
didnt i play the "opinions" card ten comments ago.
Nick said...
Shea: Prolly... I just got lost in all of Andy's insults.
Andy said...
Oh geez. Yeah that was pretty intense... I hope everyone is ok... hugs...whatever.
Troy said...
Watching Transformers reminded me of having a stomach ache that just won't go away. Finally you give up and run to the toilet. SPLAT!!! Messy and a bit painful. Then complete relief when it's over.
Chris said...
I'm gonna say 4.5 only because the corny courtyard scene with Optimus saying "my bad". Its a good think this movie didn't come out on blu-ray till recently or I would have blown my entire summer watching it over and over again.

4.5 because if I had it owned it it would have wrecked my summer life.