Movie Name: Transformers
Release Date(s): July 3, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Cybertron has fallen in the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons and the search for the All Spark leads to Earth. The key to the AllSpark could be a teenager named Buster Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) whose grandfather discovered a crashed Decepticon named Megatron in the ice of the South Pole in 1897. Sam’s purchase of a Camero reveals the existence of the robots as the search for the AllSpark has Sam being chased by the Decepticons and the military led by Agent Simmons (John Turturro). Sam finds allies in his car Bumblebee and his fellow Autobots Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ratchet, and Ironhide. Unfortunately, the Decepticons will not give up their quest for the All Spark and Sam and his new girlfriend Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) find themselves caught in the middle of a war for the future of Earth.
Directed by Michael Bay, Transformers is the big screen adaptions of the popular Hasbro toyline. The film was met with modest reviews from critics but mixed reviews from fans. Despite the so-so reviews, Transformers became one of the blockbuster films of the year. Transformers was nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects, but Jon Voight also received a nomination for Worst Supporting Actor (along with his roles in Bratz, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and September Dawn).
I watched the original Transformers animated series religiously and was a big fan of the Marvel Comics series. I am not a fan of Michael Bay and his involvement with bringing this childhood favorite to the screen had me pretty scared…and it turned out it was rightfully so.
The problem with Transformers is that the plot is quite convoluted. With trips into the future and past, the story becomes unnecessarily complex (made even more complex by more time-spanning issues of the sequels). I can’t figure out why they didn’t stick to the similar (yet less hard to follow) original story of the two warring factions crashing on Earth in the past and awakening in the present…It just seems to make more sense and gets to the robots a lot faster.
The biggest problem with Transformers however is the cast. The movie seems to forget it is a movie about big robots fighting each other and decides to focus on the extremely dull human cast. Led by Shia LaBeouf, who struggles as an actor as it is, the movie just really loses itself by circling around LaBeouf. Megan Fox who makes a big splash in this film also is acting challenged and leaves you feeling a bit dirty by the tons of gratuitous shots. A second group of characters involving the army led by William Lennox (played by Josh Duhamel) never really develops and makes the murky plot even more convoluted. Despite the acting struggles of LaBeouf and Fox, John Turturro as Agent Simmons and Jon Voight as the President of the United States make them look like acting genius…I’m not even sure if Voight knows what movie he’s in.
One of the successes of the cartoon was giving life and personalities to robots…the movie completely loses this. The robots are nondescript and unidentifiable. Even the likable Bumblebee is turned into a generic robot (who is sadly one of the identfiable character simply because he’s yellow). Megatron, Starscream, and other cool characters are sidelined by stupid designs and bad voice acting. I wish that they had made more of an effort to get either the old actors to voice them or gone for over-the-top voices (like the original Starscream). The only thing that the movie got right was getting Peter Cullen back to do the voice of Optimus Prime.
Transformers was one of the most miserable films I saw in the theater. It came close to a film I would have walked out on but fortunately, when I saw it, my friend and I were the only ones in the theater and we could sit and mock it. The only inspired part of the film was the freeway chase which actually showed how transforming into a vehicle was something that was functional. Transformers was followed by the even more critically panned Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in 2009.