Transformers (2007)

“Transformers” has the distinction of being the first Michael Bay movie I’ve ever really looked forward to, and awaited information on, ever. Which is saying a lot considering Michael Bay is universally a terrible director who can’t create an entertaining movie to save his life. But setting aside I got over the Transformers hype a month before the release date, “Transformers” is a movie I expected to fail, and in actuality was proven wrong. As someone born in the early eighties, I caught onto the Transformers craze at the end, and grew fond of the robots in disguise, I have to say. To this day, being an animation buff and comic geek, I still have a tender spot for the robotic warriors, and felt a sense of anticipation and excitement brush over me as the film started. “Transformers” leaves nothing to the imagination.

It’s a loud, deafening, toyetic, and cliché little piece of gum that you simply enjoy for its brief pleasure, and then forget about it once you’re done with it. I mean the Transformers are the stars here, did you notice we didn’t hear too much about anyone else but Shia Lebeouf? It’s not a coincidence. If you’re in, you know the plot Transformers brings to the table, but the real attraction is watching the robots in disguise finally materialize on-screen, and I wasn’t disappointed in the least when it came to the Autobots. For all intents and purposes, the Autobots and Decepticons are depicted with true dedication to the source material. Optimus Prime gladly isn’t offed in the first thirty minutes and remains a harsh and tough leader, teamed with his trusty brigade on an alien planet, while the Decepticons are likeably slimy and one sided. Prime is at his best here, posing a serious threat as this leader who doesn’t mind beating Decepticons when they interfere with the mission at hand, and even manages to grab the best fight scenes in the entire film. But the real highlight is the utterly fantastic special effects that give us exactly what we want.

The transformers look excellent, and the modern designs for everyone is just incredible, including the revised Megatron who is a harrowing force to be reckoned with, played with the usual force by Hugo Weaving. When the bots transform, we hear the famous sound effect, and of course, the good old Peter Cullen returns as Optimus yet again. The Autobots finally manage to pair up with the Decepticons, and I had a blast watching my favorite childhood memory materialize with innate accuracy. Once you wade through all the muck, and the comedy, “Transformers” serves up one hell of a climax that really ends up becoming what it should have been all along: a stern picture of the battle between two opposing forces, a knock down drag out between Optimus and Megatron, with humans merely the spectators. Of course, as mentioned, you do have to wade through about an hour and a half of endless meandering until we get to the actual fucking point. In this time there is transformers slapstick including them trying to hide in Sam’s backyard, and Sam hiding Bumblebee from his parents all scenes deriving from “Small Soldiers,” and “Iron Giant.”

Meanwhile, there’s really nothing but a film that doesn’t know what do with itself. Rarely do we ever get to the storyline at hand, and we’re forced to sit through endless tired exposition, ridiculous comedy paired with over the top performances, and inevitably you begin to ask yourself, “Isn’t this a science fiction movie?” With the scattered pacing and utterly erratic editing, Bay always wants to cater to as many audiences as he can, so he features car chases, romance, physical comedy, inept soldiers, pro-patriotic messages, and none of it ever feels balanced and smooth. The first half lags with poor character exposition along with the transformers becoming plot devices and not characters. They were honestly nothing but walking props forced to be subjected to secondary plot elements up until the climax, and even then Bay makes it feel like they’re interfering with the human activity taking place. The comedy brought everything to a screeching halt, and it’s probably the most conspicuous flaw of the film.

What was the point of featuring inept government agent John Turturro? Why did Anthony Anderson even need to be in this film? Was there a point to Bernie Mac’s walk on role? Negative on all fronts, thus the film feels sloppy and hasty. I mean, how can anyone take the transformers seriously when they’re muttering lines like “My Bad,” and pissing on John Turturro? The normal audience who have never seen anything related to the franchise will simply view them as jokes, and be asked to take them seriously in the climax which will by then be too much to ask of us. And as suspected, the Transformers lore is really nothing but a footnote, with Bay barely scratching the surface of what these characters, and this world is capable of. I’d like to believe he’s saving it all up for the sequels, but then that’d be over-estimating Michael Bay, wouldn’t it?  My ideal “Transformers” movie is a straight faced stern film where the transformers are characters and not plot devices, but hell, you can’t please every fan boy out there. “Transformers” is just okay and on a constant rocky road; when it’s on its fun, exciting, and epic, and when it’s off, it’s flat, unfunny, and painful.