For those who weren’t kids or parents during the ’80s,
the Transformers are a race of robots from the planet Cybertron
who assume the shape of everyday mechanical objects to hide in plain
sight while continuing their ancient feud on earth. The benevolent
Autobots are led by goodie-two-shoes Optimus Prime (Cullen),
who is the sworn enemy of Megatron (Weaving) and
the evil Decepticons.
The robots (when clearly displayed) are amazing, truly the very
definition of the word spectacle. In jaw-dropping cinema moments,
only the first unveiling of the dinosaurs in (Executive Producer)
Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park
comes close. After seeing them transform it was entirely believable
that any piece of machinery might in fact be a robot in disguise.
Unlike Spielberg, who let us gaze in awe at his digital creations,
Michael Bay is fueled by an ADHD editing style
and just can’t wait to show robots blowing stuff up RIGHT
NOW! Michael Bay is the real star of Transformers without any doubt.
His presence in the director’s chair overshadows everything
else, even the mighty Optimus Prime. Every frame of film carries
his signature, and that’s not really a bad thing. A movie
about giant robots fighting is well served by Bay’s appetite
Many with fond memories of the Transformers animated show fear
that Bay, like George Lucas before him, will crassly
defile their childhood in pursuit of a few million dollars. Transformers
does feel like an advertisement, but not for the toys like the original
series. Here the products for sale are General Motors vehicles (The
Camaro that Bumblebee transforms into won’t be for sale until
2009!) and military hardware (not available for sale in the U.S.
at this time). It’s cool to have full military cooperation,
but the film lags with too many shots of fighter crews scrambling
to their jets or helicopters flying out of the sun.
With all this heavy hardware the movie scarcely has space for
any flesh and blood. Nonetheless it tries to fit three plotlines
into its overlong running time. The only one of any interest is
about young Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) and the sporty
yellow Camaro he uses to pursue high school hottie Mikaela (Fox).
During non-robot moments LaBeouf’s performance injects humor
to prevent the film from dragging. The other stories merely take
up space that could be better occupied by butt-kicking robots.
The flaws in Transformers are trivial in comparison to
what it delivers. Watching it was seeing into the mind of a child
imagining a fight between Autobots and Decepticons. When the robots
were on screen the illusion of the movie was unbreakable and the
rapture of the audience was complete. If you were a kid during the
’80s or are a child right now don’t hesitate, rush to
theater with the knowledge that in Michael Bay’s hands this
piece of your childhood is waiting for you just like you remember