Tranformers works best as pure popcorn, blockbuster fun. It is big, dumb, and loud. But it is also quite an entertaining movie with the best visual effects seen this year.
Transformers deals with an alien race of robots split into two warring factions: the Autobots and the Deceptacons. Disguised as various automobiles, planes, and helicopters, both factions search planet Earth for the “All Spark”, their eternal source of power which crash landed on Earth millions of years ago.
Infiltrating the National Security network, the Deceptacons find that the only person on file who can locate the cube is Sam Witwicky (Shia Lebouf), a high school outcast and descendant of an adventurer who made first contact with the cube. The Deceptacons pursue Sam, but the Autobots are quick to react and offer him their protection.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of Defence (Jon Voight) assembles the countries best analysts to work on who infiltrated their system - with one analyst (Rachael Taylor) trying in vain to convince that their attackers are extra terrestrial – and a group of American soldiers stationed in Iraq (led by Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson) come under attack by the Deceptacons.
As an action / sci-fi film, Transformers is right on the money. An excellent sound department and special effects team - coupled with director Michael Bay’s exemplary visual eye – have created some truly exhilarating action sequences, with the films opening transformation scene a sight to behold.
There are also some fine comedic moments as well, with rising star Shia Lebouf proving his worth as a great actor with a keen sense of comedy. Comedian Bernie Man also contributes laughs with a funny cameo, and a slapstick sequence involving the Autobots is also quite good.
That being said, there are flaws which brings this monster down.
A seething left wing undertone is felt throughout, and the films features less than flattering depictions of law enforcement, particularly intelligence agencies, as paranoid authority figures. Veteran actor John Turturro plays such a figure to abominable results. Put simply, it is the worst performance of his career. However, the film is much more complimentary to its military figures, or else there would be hell to pay.
With the advancement of special effects and visual graphics, there has never been a better time to adapt one of the most beloved 1980’s cartoons to the big screen. Delivering a passable story, however, was always going to be a much trickier proposition.
A bad screenplay featuring some awful dialogue – which can only be described as “vomit inducing” – will provide quite a workout for the up-chuck reflex, especially when Bay’s taste for cheesy melodrama takes over.
Casting is another glaring bungle, especially in regards to the two main female roles played by Megan Fox and Rachel Taylor, who seem to have been chosen more for their looks (thin and pretty) than for their acting ability. Also, Anthony Anderson (who is quickly coming off as the black equivalent of Any Dick) gives sub-par comic relief.