Article

TRANSFORMERS


STARRING: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Jon Voight, Bernie Mac, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Amaury Nolasco, Kevin Dunn, Ronnie Sperling

2007, 144 Minutes, Directed by:
Michael Bay


Transformers is the big summer action movie for 2007! If you thought Spider-man 3 was fun, but just too damn long and the same old story, then you need to see this movie. In fact, if you wouldn’t dream of going to see Spider-man 3, you would still want to see this movie. Transformers accomplishes something that few high-testosterone movies ever do: appeal to chicks. My girlfriend sat open mouthed, grabbing my arm to whisper, "Look! Look!” during the whole movie. But, that’s jumping ahead . . .

The plot involves bad robots, the Decepticons, and good robots, the Autobots. If you’ve seen the Transformers trailer (and who hasn’t?), you know that Disturbia’s Shia LaBeouf (Sam) is just your average teenage boy whose first car turns out to be a sentient alien robot. What would otherwise be the heart-warming but dull introduction to the story of Sam’s family life and buying his first car is inter cut with a huge alien robot attack on an American base in Qatar. (For geographically challenged Americans, Qatar is north of Saudi Arabia and east of Bahrain on the Persian Gulf. Qatar's oil revenues by the way  gives it the highest per capita income in the world. If you want more info, do what I did and check out the CIA Fact book online.)

Likable Las Vegas sidekick Josh Duhamel is captain of a Special Forces unit with sidekick bad-ass dude Tyrese Gibson from 2 Fast 2 Furious. The furious cutting from the captain’s story in Qatar to Sam in suburbia (not Disturbia) keeps the story moving. The hero’s goal for the rest of the movie is to retrieve a magical alien artifact and keep it from the Decepticons, who would use it to enslave the Earth by transforming our machines into an army of crazed alien robots. The plot is simple and direct, with built-in stakes and urgency. Perfect for an action picture. There's simply no time for weeping over breaking up with Mary Jane like Peter Parker in Spider-man 3. It’s all go, go, go!

"There's no time for weeping over breaking up with Mary Jane! It’s go, go, go!"

Within two minutes of the opening credits we’re in Qatar flying in tilt-wing Osprey transports (the latest in rad marine helicopters that look and fly like airplanes), scrambling F-22 Raptors, and under a big-ass attack. This is how an action movie is supposed to work. Director Michael Bay gets to play with all the cool military toys thanks to Pearl Harbor, which maybe didn’t thrill critics, but the Department of Defense sure liked. Bay doesn’t like directing it fake with blue screen like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The military gear is expensive and there’s lots of it, lots more than Apocalypse Now. It’s the biggest military coordination with a motion picture ever. Battle tanks get blown around like confetti, and the shit is real . . . except for blowing them up, of course. After all, an M1 Abrams costs $4.5 million . . .

SF movie fans will remember Shia LaBeouf as the annoying kid with attitude in I, Robot with Will Smith. (By the way, Spielberg has him in the upcoming Indiana Jones 4 movie.) I’m OK with Shia, but in real life Josh Duhamel would take his girl in under ten seconds. Speaking of the girl, that’s Megan Fox, who totally lives up to her last name. It’s impossible not to drool at Megan, wearing a denim miniskirt, bending over to check under the hood of Sam’s temperamental yellow Camaro (protector robot Bumblebee). Megan is Mikaela, the totally hot out-of-your-league brunette next door, whom Sam would have absolutely no chance to impress without the car. Megan has done some films, but until now was best known for her supporting role on the TV sitcom Hope & Faith. She looks hot and can act. Megan Fox is the total package.

Speaking of the car, I’d be remiss not to talk about some of the most important actors in any giant robots film: the giant robots.

Director Michael Bay kept throwing the robots back to ILM demanding they look more real. Bay wanted the robots absolutely photo-realistic. The robots look amazing, whether flying through the air, burrowing through the sand, or running down the highway. The alien robots hide in plain sight by transforming themselves into ordinary-looking machines.

The conversion process, from cars and planes to bipod robots, is mesmerizing and convincing. As we drove home after the movie, my girlfriend pointed to the big outdoor orange metal Picasso sculpture in Beverly Hills, "It’s a Transformer!" Actually, that does look like a Transformer midway through the process. The robots of Transformers are less anthropomorphic than Sonny of I, Robot, more alien-looking. Although usually incredibly cool, sometimes in the close-ups the Transformers robots did remind me of nerdy robot Number 5 of Short Circuit.

My girlfriend, who doesn’t like any action films that much, was so wired on the drive home, like she drank two cans of Monster. "I feel like I ran a race!" she said. That’s what an action movie should be like.

Don’t miss Transformers!
 

- Robin Rowe
 

Ultimately, the movie's many action scenes will no doubt have small boys of an impressionable age literally pee in their pants from sheer excitement and teens thirteen years and older will appreciate our hero's American Pie-lite teenage travails involving zits, his first car and accusatory parents. Anyone wanting a movie with giant robots slugging it out won't be disappointed either. If you're however desirous of a quieter time at the cinemas then it is suggested that you check out something else instead . . . James O'Ehley
 


 





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