Jaq's Review: Transformers - A Good Film In Disguise

July 1, 2007

About twenty minutes into Michael Bay's tent-pole blockbuster Transformers my eight-year-old nephew Bailey said, without ever taking his eyes off the screen, "Now, this is the good part." What he was referring to was the first major battle between competing super robot factions Autobots and Decepticons. And he was right.

Sure, the film opens up with a slight bit of action, a transforming helicopter named Blackout destroying an army base in the Middle East, but since there's no context yet, it almost doesn't register. The army doesn't stand a chance against the helicopter/robot since there hasn't been any time to learn his weaknesses and Blackout gets the information he wants while eliminating most of the personnel and equipment. Once this bit of excitement ends, however, we move to the suburban landscape inhabited by our human star, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). In the next twenty minutes or so, we get all the background we're going to get (and, let's face it, all we really need). All the plot point which are going to play out over the next two and a half hours are laid out and we're strapped in for a wild ride.

The Autobot named Bumblebee hands Sam a special cube in a scene from Transformers.Transformers Review

Sam, it seems, is the key to the whole shebang. He has the map the robots are looking for in order to find the "All Spark," the source of their power. If the Decepticons get hold of it, they can turn everything on Earth into an evil robot and thereby take over the planet. The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, have come to Earth to stop them. Sam, along with new girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) and Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel), help out in whatever form they can, proving again and again that human spirit is worth saving.

But is the film worth seeing? If you're eight, the answer is a resounding yes: "It's got lots of action and it's the best film ever!" Even if you're older than eight it does have lots of action. And not much more. This isn't a bad thing, mind you. I think this is one Michael Bay finally got right. Instead of doing something he's not good at (i.e. tell a story), he focuses on the action and keeps only the barest minimum of plot, just enough to propel the sequences most of the audience is there to see anyway. And action sequences Bay does well. Well enough that an eight year old can sit, spellbound, for close to three hours. Sure, sometimes the effects move at seizure inducing speeds, and the Autobots are only differentiated from the Decepticons by the color of their eyes, so sometimes it's not easy to tell who to root for, but overall, the effects are worthy of the admission price.

With that in mind, what little there is of the script still leaves a bit to be desired. Bay can't resist cheap jokes (Bumblebee, Sam's new car, can only speak through the radio and, ironically, only bad 80's pop), visual puns, (Barricade, the evil cop car, has "To Punish and Enslave" written on his side) and the dialogue is laughable. But again, that's not what you're going there to see. If you want a solid script and great acting, odds are you're not paying 10 bucks to see a Michael Bay film, but if you're looking for a way to get out of the heat for a little while, go pretend you're eight and enjoy yourself.

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Great to hear another good review, just 24 hours left.

Stephen on Jul 1, 2007


I came to this site looking for information about moving movie release dates. Live Free or Die Harder came out early and now Transformers -- which now has a release date of July 3 actually opened today. And I don't mean no lame 8 pm "midnight" showings either. I mean all-day-long showings. What's up with that? What's happening people!?!? See for yourself!

Lorenzo on Jul 2, 2007


well what you showed Lorenzo that on 7/2/7 its all 8pm to midnite showings , tomorrow is the actually release date...they have been doing this all summer long with big movies ....spiderman 3 , shrek 3 and potc 3

JNYCE on Jul 2, 2007


Andy, I'd have to disagree with you pretty severely, and I also grew up during the time of the Transformers (I even owned a few GoBots). I think that Massawyrm at summed up the original cartoon best: "Fans of the original television series will recall there were essentially two possible plots to any Transformers episode. Plot one involved the Decepticons discovering a new way to make Energon Cubes, forcing the Autobots to have to stop them. And plot two involved the Autobots finding a new way to generate Energon Cubes, causing the Decepticons to try and stop them, forcing the Autobots to have to stop them from stopping them. Each episode ended with a melee which involved the same recycled shots of Transformers seemingly floating in midair while their blasters fired repeatedly. The Decepticons would run off with their tails between their legs – and if for some reason the Autobots were having a hard time stopping them, they would turn to their new recruit, a Transformer we'd never seen or heard from before but was, fortunately for us, available in stores that very week, who would aid in chasing the Decepticons off with their tails between their legs. In a word, it was FUCKING AWESOME!" Ok, so take out the energon cubes and you've pretty much got the plot of this movie. I will agree that they weren't all that faithful to all of the original characters, but if you're looking for character development in a Michael Bay movie, you're just kidding yourself. I think he did pretty decent with the development there was, but the point of seeing this thing is to see epic battles of Autobots and Decepticons beating the living crap out of each other. That's all I was looking for in the original cartoon (and I own the entire G1 series), and that's all I wanted here and the movie delivered. If it actually makes anybody's top 10 list for any reason other than the balls-out action, I'll question their credibility, but I think it's delievered more fun than just about any other movie this summer, and that's all I can really ask for.

FS Dave on Jul 3, 2007


Thank you Dave. I appreciate the information.

andydreamseeker on Jul 4, 2007


Dave, My contribution: Why the original Transformers movie is better than Michael Bay's. - By John Swansburg - Slate Magazine

andydreamseeker on Jul 5, 2007


I am a fan of Transformers no doubt about it. I didn't have a problem with them changing their look. The Transformers were robots/mecha made back in the 80's. It was time for them to be update. In fact, after watching the movie, the basic idea for the plot wasn't even that bad. There were some great scenes in the movie. There were some great fights. Unfortunately, that doesn't make a solid plot. Even for a Michael Bay film, I found this to be a weak plot. I don't wholely hate Michael Bay films. They are fun even if they formula movies produced for a mass audience. I don't mind that... after all, it was designed to appeal to me. I am one of the masses. The problem with this movie is the execution. The plot feels confused. It changes pacing halfway through to something that doesn't fit the first half; so much so to the point that it seems as if the writer changed a few times. The robot battles are far to blurry and you can't really determine what is going on. To be honest, I really don't know what happend at the end. All I know is Megatron is defeated, but the process of events to get there was confused. My gripe isn't the changes that were made, my gripe is the failure to have a cohesive plot even.... even for a Michael Bay movie. It feels like someone just needed to pay attention and agree on a tone for them movie. It could have been a decent blockbuster film if only someone had said, "Does this make sense for the flow of the story?"

Jonathan on Jul 6, 2007


I love it! I love seeing one 'bedside' director after another try to trash Michael Bay for "laughable dialogue" and " no cohesive plot" on this Transformers movie. I mean really, this is a movie about giant robots coming to save the world...something you all watched as little kids on a cartoon. What in the world was expected plot-wise? Tone-wise? If you missed a cohesiveness to this plot...or were confused by it, what movie WERE you watching? All of you that're so sure of this movie's flaws should just watch the movie again...THIS TIME just to enjoy it...not seek out anything you can criticize Michael Bay about (because, you know, a guy like MB thats directed so many huge, big budget Hollywood movies couldn't possibly have ANY idea of what he's doing). I'll tell you what he DID do...he made one incredible action movie out of your gay little robots! You should be thanking him. Here's a news flash...there IS a VERY cohesive plot, the action and special effects are f%^&in' astounding, AND its a fun movie for anyone to go see! Ok? ...and thats coming from someone who HATED the Transformers cartoon as a kid.

Etto on Jul 16, 2007


Agreed with Etto. Its nothing short of funny to watch "critics" struggle to fit Transformers into the same analytical framework that they apply to, say, Citizen Kane. For example, see: Dear Critics: Forget it. Transformers is awesome fun and the ultimate wish fulfillment for anyone that grew up with Generation 1. That is all. Plot? Good enough. Cheesy dialog? Whatever. Kick ass visuals bringing to life giant killer robots in contemporary settings? HELL YES. I've seen it three times already, and can't wait to get there again.

rod / on Jul 27, 2007


I think it is one of the best movies in 2007. expect to watch transformer 2 in next year

aric on Jul 31, 2007


hi . do the robot. bublu: didnt see it. sorry. thought it might me freak me out a tad bit. id be afraid my ipod would blow me up. bwyn:i liked this movie. i want a pretty robot car!:( i havent read the comics, but ive heard enough about it. i love that movie! the only weird part was the end when they were snozzing in front of the huge, gigantic, intimidatting robo dudes. akward turtle. good movie! adioso

bublu&bwyn on Dec 26, 2007


hi . do the robot. bublu: didnt see it. sorry. thought it might me freak me out a tad bit. id be afraid my ipod would blow me up. bwyn:i liked this movie. i want a pretty robot car!:( i havent read the comics, but ive heard enough about it. i love that movie! the only weird part was the end when they were snozzing in front of the huge, gigantic, intimidatting robo dudes. akward turtle. good movie! adioso amigioso

bublu&bwyn on Dec 26, 2007


oops technical difficulties

bublu&bwyn on Dec 26, 2007

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