Well, as spoiler free as possible… I mean, come on, this is the friggen Transformers… How can I spoil a plot that hasn’t changed since 1983…? They come to Earth from space. Autobots are good. Decepticons are bad. They both change from vehicles to robots. They both need this bizarre power source. Decepticons kill humans. Autobots save humans. Some military folks to die and then help the good Autobots defeat the evil Decepticons. Rinse, repeat.
Anyway, I was going to attempt some heartfelt Gen X essay about the nature of childhood heroes and memories coming to life. About how Transformers transcended their simple toy line roots and become a cultural icon. Well, enough like-minded writers and VH-1 have done the same, so why rehash it all over again. Face it friends, The Transformers is a movie about giant friggen robots that fight each other and crap blows up in slow motion. Thankfully, Michael Bay and company do not sway very far from this tried and true pattern.
Was this film more than meets the eye? (What? This review gonna’ be stuffed with cheese)
No, it wasn’t. The Transformers is exactly what you expect… a big ass summer blockbuster with giant transforming robots that beat the crap out of each other, mixed in with some weak (but not annoying) human elements. Transformers is an honest return to the over the top Hollywood blockbuster. While you don’t need to check your Headmaster at the door, you also shouldn’t go looking for any deep thoughts. As much as it pains me to type this, Michael Bay was the only director to pull this flick off. (Although I am certain the guiding hand of producer Steven Spielberg helped a lot). No one pulls off those gorgeous slow motion shots of giant robots dodging and firing missiles like Michael Bay, there simply isn’t. Yes, all the clich? “Bay’isms” are there: Everyone walks in slow motion with the sun setting behind. The wind is always whipping through the hair of sexy women. The camera always pans a full 360 degrees while rising from feet to head for no reason. Characters pause to gaze lovingly into each others eyes as the world comes apart. But dammit, in Transformers is just works. It does. There, I’ve said it.
Aaron, quit yapping and tell us if the Robots in Disguise kicked ass!
Hells yes they did! I’ve gotten past the fact that none of my favorite characters looked like their Hasbro counterpart. Watching the film, I am glad. The robots on screen work. They look 100% realistic and believable. Shoot, The Transformers gave some of the best performances in the film. You genuinely believe the Autobots want to help humanity, just as you genuinely believe the Decepticons want to destroy anything with a pulse. How about ?ol Optimus Prime? Dude, it was Optimus Prime voiced by the one and only Peter Cullen! The character is fantastic. Prime says all his iconic lines. Each one eliciting a roaring applause from an audience that ranged from 8 to 48… Though the dude to chick ratio was a tad skewed, I know big shock. Shoot, even my attempt to not “geek out” next to a “real” member of the media failed when Optimus Prime (while facing off against the fantastically evil Megatron) uttered… “One shall stand, one shall fall”. Come on! It can’t get any better… This was my childhood brought to glorious life!!!
What about them humans?
Like I said, not as interesting as the robots. Indeed, the robots were more compelling than the humans were. Says a lot about Michael Bay as a director when the CGI characters turn in better performances than the flesh and blood characters. Shia Labeouf has a strong screen presence, just enough pretty boy looks without being annoying, and a good comedic sense of timing. That guy is going to go far and I’m not as concerned about his role in Indy 4 as I was. Megan Fox is hot, um, that’s about it. She doesn’t get much to do other than stand in sexy poses as Michael Bay zooms in tight on her glistening midriff / chest / booty. Considered her limited role, she did well.
That dude from Vegas was cool and made me want to join the military. (Side note, why doesn’t Michael Bay shoot recruitment videos? That guy makes military life out to be the biggest badass way to live your life… I’m not saying it isn’t, but damn does he make it look awesome and even a little sexy). John Voight looked a little lost and confused. I imagine him wandering around the set asking folks what this movie was about… But, towards then end, he kicks it into high gear and gets to the robot butt kicking. Then we have John Turturro … Wait, that John Turturro? Yes, same one… I won’t give away his character, but he turns in a fun scene or two. As for the rest of the actors, not bad… They help move the story, but don’t get in the way. What more can you ask of humans in a movie about giant transforming robots that beat the crap out of each other?
The movie is just fun, pure and simple.
This is what I want from a summer blockbuster. I want crap that blows up. I want cheesy, but not gut wrenching, one-liners. I wanted to say “oohh” and “awww” every 10 minutes or so. I want just enough plot and logic to not distract me from the slow motion explosions and transforming robots. I want the good guys to win and the bad guys to get what they deserve. I want love to blossom in extreme events, but don’t get too mushy…No one needs animal crackers on Liv Tyler’s belly (unless I’m the one holding said animal cracker). What I didn’t expect and was pleasantly surprised with was the amount of heart found in The Transformers. You can’t help but root for Optimus Prime and his noble Autobots. Not because you’re supposed to, but because you want to. The same reason why I loved those robotic defenders as a child is the same reason I whooped and hollered as an adult.
Go see this film. See it multiple times. Remember how it felt when Optimus Prime gave you simple black and white life lessons… Somehow, against all odds and Michael Bay, The Transformers reminds you how to be a kid, without acting like a child. Is The Transformers perfect? No, it probably isn’t even “good” from a cinematic level… Is The Transformers the best time I’ve had at the theater this summer? Hell yes!
Roll out and catch this flick… Just check your damn Gen X cynicisms at the door.
Geek in the City gives The Transformers 4 out of 5 Critical Hits! (I would have given it 5 out 5 if we got some Stan Bush or Lion).