Film Review: Transformers

 Film Review: Transformers

Optimus Prime, ready for war

As a child of the 1980’s, one of my favorite animated shows was Transformers. My favorite was probably Masters of the Universe, and I put my Mom into credit card debt buying me the various figures and castles associated with the cartoon. While Masters of the Universe had a live action dud (I liked it for what it was though), Transformers is getting a spiffy, huge budget live action updated from the king of cusinart editing Michael Bay. Bay is like an action porn master, his films are all money shots, all the time. He may have found the perfect vehicle to express his jump-cut editing and violent car crashing and bashing because Transformers contains some of the best special effects of all time. The gleaming Autobots and sinister Decepticons look incredible. Optimus Prime is amongst the coolest creations ever on screen. Transformers is faster and funnier than I expected it to be. It’s got a sharp timing that offsets some of Bay’s crazy editing techniques and penchant for guys running heroically in slow motion with huge guns set to an overly bombastic score.

The basic plot has to do with the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons on earth trying to find a mystical “Allspark” which grants unlimited power to those who possess it. The US military and various likable human characters get caught up in the war. The new Hollywood It guy Shia Lebeouf has a likable charm as a nebbish named Sam. All Sam wants to do is get his first car and maybe score with the town hottie Mikeala, played with a blank stare by the latest generic Maxim hottie, Megan Fox. Tyrese and Josh Duhamel are also along for the ride as military men trying to fend off various Decepticons in the desert. Bernie Mac has a nice cameo (he seems to be cashing his check on set) and John Turturro is hilarious (and over the top) as a wannabe tough guy who runs a secret organization who know all about the existence of the robots. Fanboys (like me) will have quibbles about changes to the classic cartoon, but most people won’t really care about them.

Lets face it though, no one is there to see Tyrese or Shia Lebouf, they are there to see giant robots smashing each other through buildings and transforming thanks to photo real, stunning effects. The action scenes are often stunning and the film is paced like some sort of roller coaster helmed by a conductor on acid. Bay’s never going to be confused with a subtle director, but this is his best film since The Rock. It’s an exhilarating, funny, satisfying ride, and it’s never boring. By the time the film ends though, you may lose some hearing and need some Advil, but that is what the summer blockbuster movie season is all about. After some disappointing summer blockbusters, Transformers delivers the goods, no more, and no less.

Grade: B+

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