“Their War. Our World.”
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Shia LaBoeuf and Megan Fox, with the voices of Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving
High School loser Sam Witwicky discovers that his new car is actually an alien robotic lifeform, and becomes embroiled in a battle between the heroic Autobots and the monstrous Decepticons (and some Marines, a dodgy government agency, a number of extras who then disappear for no adequately explained reason, and Jon Voigt.)
What’s wrong with it?
The short answer is that it’s the people. Transformers is a film about brave American badasses and some robots what help them, more than it is about the robots themselves. To take an example, during Ironhide’s heroic slow-mo barrel roll, the camera’s focus is on some random hot chick who plays no other part in the movie. Did Bay really not think anyone was there to watch the robots?
Also, despite the quality of the CGI, the action is often too cluttered and frenetic to follow.
What’s right with it?
This film has the best plot of the franchise, as little as that is saying, and manages to only be crassly insensitive towards fat people, Asian call centre operators and black nerds, which by the standards of the series is pretty good going. In addition, the Transformers themselves look awesome, and the stompy robot bits are actually pretty damn good.
John Turturro and Jon Voigt know pretty much what the film is worth and are good fun to watch because they are clearly having fun with it.
How bad is it really?
Transformers is a lot of fun, provided you aren’t looking to engage your brain too much.
Best bit (if such there is)?
The arrival of the Autobots is a well-done montage that builds tension and expectation for the awesome that is never quite delivered on.
What’s up with…?
- Optimus Prime shanking a Decepticon through the skull-pan with his energy sword? This is way more commitment to a philosophy of total war than I was expecting.
- All the bloody humans?
- Bumblebee peeing on John Tuturro? Seriously, that was not needed.
- The evac run into ‘Mission City’? Why arrange to evacuate a mission-critical object, by chopper, from a heavily-populated area with many tall buildings, under enemy fire, rather than, say, just running flat out until you can meet up with an armoured division coming the other way?
Production values – Okay, fair play, the effects are magnificent, if occasionally a little too busy. 6
Dialogue and performances – Lamentable comedic episodes punctuate the necessary and slightly leaden exposition, with Jon Voigt occasionally providing a voice over when the film itself is not entirely clear. The actors give the material a hundred times what it is worth. 12
Plot and execution – In all fairness, this film has a plot which mostly makes sense, at least on its own terms. 8
Randomness – Robopee. The gratuitous city run. The comedy call centre operator. In fact, any of the comedy. The people. Stick with the robots. 14
Waste of potential – There could have been more focus on the Transformers, and should have been. On the other hand, we can clearly demonstrate that it could have been worse. 12