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Transformers (2007)

This is a story about a boy and his car.

Of course, that isn’t all. It also has giant transforming robots, a massive interplanetary civil war, car chases, fight scenes, explosions, tangles with shadowy government organizations, and the human race held in the balance as two powerful factions fight for dominance.

In other words, this is a story about a boy and his car, directed by Michael Bay.

Transformers is a sci fi action film directed by Michael Bay, based on the Transformers toy line. It stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, plus the voices of Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving, and a buttload of CGI effects detailed enough to melt several processors.

A civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons has destroyed their homeworld of Cybertron. The key to restoring life to the dead planet is the Allspark, which has the power to infuse machines with life. However, the Autobots wish to use it for peaceful purposes, while the Decepticons wish to use it for conquest. Complicating matters on both ends is the fact that the Allspark has been lost, last seen on a little blue planet called Earth. One of the denizens of said little blue planet is impending high school graduate Sam Witwicky, a simple guy with simple goals: get a car, and get a girlfriend. One of his plans to acquire capital for said car is selling some artifacts from his great-great grandfather’s fateful expedition to Antarctica in 1897, a trip that left him blind, insane, and raving about ice monsters. Little does Sam know that his simple quest for a sweet ride is going to throw him into the middle of the abovementioned civil war…

This was another one of those movie announcements that had nerds all over the world perking up their ears, particularly we children of the 80s, who grew up surrounded by the Transformers. Steven Spielberg has done great sci fi and fantasy work in the past, making him the ideal producer, but Michael Bay had initially balked when asked to direct, dismissing it as a “stupid toy movie”. He learned how wrong he was when he visited Habsro and learned about the MASSIVE mythology behind the toy line, but in true Michael Bay fashion he averted the possible kiddie-ness of the movie by adding more to the military subplot (read: more shit blowing up). The CG-created Transformer characters were intricately detailed, with special attention being paid to making the transformation sequences look like they obeyed the laws of physics and conservation of mass: a robot that is this big as a vehicle must be this big as a biped. As a result, the titular Transformers looked great, and I could actually believe that the human cast was being threatened by twenty-foot-tall robots.

As for the human cast, LeBeouf fared decently well as Unlucky Everydude Sam, and Kevin Dunn and Julie White were suitably embarrassing as his parents, from whom he’s trying to hide facts like his ’74 Camaro being alive and wanting to recruit him for an interstellar war. Megan Fox’s Mikaela tries so hard to be a well-rounded character, but in the end is just the Hot Gearhead. John Turturro is more or less every character he’s ever played, and deserved to get a swift kick in his self-importance, contrasting with Jon Voight as Secretary of Defense John Keller, a surprisingly reasonable authority figure once he gets a handle on what’s going on. However, while the story focuses mainly on the human perspective of OMG GIANT TRANSFORMING ROBOTS, when the Transformers themselves show up and a Michael Bay movie ensues, the human subplot is very nearly lost amid the car chases, downtown battle sequences, robot fu, and massive property damage.

In the end, the robots looked great, the battle sequences looked great, and the paranoia fuel of transforming robots was applied just enough to offer a human perspective on the franchise. In the end, though, Transformers mainly runs on special effects and awesome, with a fair amount of plot to contain it all. If you’re a fan of the Tranformers franchise and/or you’re looking for an exciting sci fi action movie, check this one out.

  1. 04/06/2011 at 12:38 am

    I definitely agree with this review. Interested to know what you thought of #2…

    • 04/06/2011 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks for your reply! Haven’t seen Revenge of the Fallen yet, but I’ve heard mixed reviews about it. Is it any good?

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