Movie Review
Transformers poster
By Craig Younkin     Published July 6, 2007
US Release: July 3, 2007

Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf , Megan Fox , Josh Duhamel , Tyrese

PG-13 intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, and language
Running Time: 144 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $319,222,000
Transformers goes into that big pile of summer disappointments that are long on special effects and short on actual excitement.
"Transformers" is based on a series of toys designed by Hasbro, I believe in the 80's. I never really got into the craze, being of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" clique, and the movie didn't really excite me at first. Then I saw some clips for it and for the first time thought this might be one of the biggest movies of the summer; and from a production stand-point, it sure looks that way. This is one of the most expensive-looking movies I've ever seen, but unfortunately, that does not translate to entertaining.

The story is about a battle between the Autobots, a team of good robots led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons, bad ones led by Megatron, and their goal of achieving a cube of domination called the Allspark. The Decepticons want to control all of human race, while the Autobots want to protect it. Many years ago the Allspark fell to earth and was captured by a sect of the military known as Sector Seven. Megatron came shortly after and was frozen and captured by the sect as well.

Moving ahead to present day, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is a horny high school teenager desperately trying to fit in. His prayers are answered when his father (Kevin Dunn) buys him an old Camaro. Suddenly he's hanging out with the hottest chick in school, Mikaela (Megan Fox). Only the car has a secret - it can transform itself into one of the Autobots. It has been sent to protect Sam, whose great-Grandfather found the Allspark many years ago and left a clue to where it is being kept. It becomes the goal of both the Decepticons and the Autobots to use Sam to their advantage. Elsewhere, the Secretary of Defense (Jon Voight) is coming up with strategy, and other characters are introduced such as a computer hacker (Anthony Anderson), two Marines (Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson) and what I believe to be a scientist (Rachael Taylor).

The special effects in this movie are really the best reason to see it. The robots are all humongous and magnificent. From the way they transform to the way they move, you can tell the filmmakers put a lot of time and effort into making them as cool as possible. Only the action is ho-hum and so hyperactive that you can barely make out anything that's going on. Director Michael Bay does his usual rapid fire, sensory overload routine, going from explosions to gunfire to robots wrestling to slow motion shots of character's faces. All of this is just rushed onto the screen without any regard for tension. And even worse is that none of it really has much inspiration to it. When I left I was thinking that last week's "Live Free or Die Hard" is really the last of a dying breed. The helicopter sequence in that movie alone showed more ingenuity than anything put on display here. There is a lot of gunfire and explosions, but you can see that anywhere. The robots never really do anything terribly cool.

And probably the biggest problem with this movie was that the characters never have a personality of their own. Most of them are just there for show. The movie needed some marines, hot chicks, goof-balls, and someone who looked respectable enough to play the Secretary of Defense. Performance really doesn't matter here at all. That Shia LeBeouf actually does manage to give his character more charm than the others is a testament to what a good actor he's quickly becoming.

I would have liked to see more of Megatron too. He is finally thawed in the last half hour only to be portrayed as little more than a sort of robot-King Kong. Had he been allowed to play more of an intelligent leader role, I think he could have been a scarier and much more evil character. The other robots do fare a little better however, their emotion coming through nicely. I also thought this movie didn't have a bad plot. Had the characters been more involved and the action better paced, it would have been a fairly exciting ride. Instead, "Transformers" goes into that big pile of summer disappointments that are long on special effects and short on actual excitement.
Craig's Grade: C
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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