|Directed by:||Michael Bay|
|Written by:||Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman|
|Cast:||Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Anthony Anderson, Rachael Taylor, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Jon Voight|
One can easily view Transformers from one of two perspectives: either as a sheer, mindlessly fun and explosive summer blockbuster with gallons upon gallons of buttered popcorn, or as a complete debacle of a movie that’s as hollow as an inflated balloon. It’s a battle royale fueled with a throng of gargantuan robots, elite military combat, and oodles of explosions, flying bullets, car chases, pulverized skyscrapers, and chaotic menace. Either way you decide to look at the film, just remember to leave your thinking caps at home when seeing it.
Known for his outrageous knack for pervasively explosive action in exchange for a dynamic plot, it would be fair to say that director Michael Bay has proven himself to be somewhat of the king of “style over substance” and over-the-top action sequences. While Bay hasn’t honed his directing capabilities to any particular extent, he has certainly reigned and utilized them to their greatest lengths with Transformers. The film is a match made in heaven for Bay, and it is one that certainly allows him to even get away with his frequently criticized style of filmmaking. Albeit the man may not even come close to directing any sort of character study or austere drama any time in the near future (or the future in general, for that matter), Bay certainly knows how to deliver the goods with a film of this caliber and expectation. This isn’t another abominably poor concept with unbelievably lazy development in the likes of Armageddon or Bad Boys. This is an adaptation of one of the most successful Saturday morning cartoon series and is something that by know means is meant to be taken with the slightest bit of seriousness, but more with a sense of childish wonderment and perhaps even a tinge of nostalgia. What can one expect from what may just possibly be the biggest blockbuster ever plastered on the back of a cereal box? Expect whatever you would find in a film with Michael Bay’s and Steven Spielberg’s names stapled to its credits – aliens, explosions, and an unbelievably huge budget.
Concept and story-wise, I won’t even begin to ramble on how flawed Transformers is. Nearly everything seems pitch-perfect and painfully dynamic as some sort of a cartoon-gimmick, but, one must then realize that it IS one big cartoon-gimmick, and one of the biggest ones in the history of pop culture, at that. So, in a certain way, the film’s primordial reputation serves as a perfectly molded façade over its level of ineptitude. From a more specified standpoint, the story seems to be constructed from some very similar dynamics used from the old-fashioned storytelling of any traditional sci-fi movie, complete with substantial military involvement, a humble protagonist, and conquering alien villains and sects.
But fortunately, the film doesn’t exchange its lousy dynamics and rather cheesy and cliché antics for anything drastically condescending. As a matter of fact, beneath that roughly metallic exterior, the film beats to the rhythm of a surprisingly warm heart. The protagonist, Sam Witwicky (played by the refreshing new talent, Shia LaBeof) is immediately likeable and his teenaged antics are wonderfully played out, especially on LeBeof’s behalf. His youthful eagerness, quirkiness, high school anecdotes, and every-day-life objectives (buying his first car and his humorously unsuccessful attempts to impress the girl of his dreams) all employ a certain, not to mention crucially important reliability factor to the character that is also delivered with tremendous comedic relief. I am certainly not surprised at LaBeof’s overwhelming amount of praise, as he has certainly proven himself as a wonderful new talent with a specific charm and sometimes (and sometimes not) timid charisma that he emphasizes awesomely with his role in this film, and any actor who manages to carry a blockbuster of this epic scale with such tremendous ease at such a tender age is certainly off to a great start Hollywood. Similar traits are also bodied forth by the transformers themselves, but yet, they only manage to provide a broad sense of comedic relief and gain our allegiance rather than our sympathy.
The film’s next tremendous asset is, hands down, the special effects engineered by Industrial Lights and Magic. It’s no surprise that each and every frame containing a Transformer took over thirty-five hours to conceive, as each robot is crafted with austere precession. Everything from the metallic textures, the transformations, and the facial movements are all done with so much detail, it’s pretty overwhelming. If Bay had only decided not to scramble that final epic battle sequence to such a rambling, tactic-less mess, then I would have been truly amazed and this may just have proven to be sheer entertainment, instead of an enjoyable matinee with some occasional seat squirming.
Albeit Transformers isn’t that feat of an entertainment we’ve been longing for all summer, the film’s simultaneous sense of mind numbing action and fluid comedic relief more than make up for its incompetence.