Director: Michael Bay (Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, The Island)
Writers: John Rogers, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Producers: Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Don Murphy, Ian Bryce
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 144 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

reviewed by Andrew James
     Judging from my experiences with past Michael Bay films, I walked into Transformers with fairly low expectations. I pre-determined that if the effects are good and I just get to see giant robots kicking the crap out of each other for two hours, I'd probably walk out of the theater a happy movie patron. Surprisingly, I got exactly what I was hoping for, yet somehow still left a little unsatisfied.

      The premise goes as follows: a young man (Shia LeBeouf) named Sam buys a dumpy little camaro for his first car. He's more than excited and is now able to pick up the girl of his dreams (Megan Fox). Unbeknownst to them, the car is actually a transforming robot on a recon mission for an alien race known as The Autobots. They're trying to find an artifact hidden somewhere on Earth before their arch nemses, The Decpticons, do. Now Sam is inadvertently caught up in an intersteallar war that has ranged for centuries between to groups of lethal, transforming robots. Never in the history of cinema has any film been better classified as a popcorn flick.

      The obvious attraction for this movie are the effects. I can promise you, you've never seen effects that look this terrific. Even George Lucas has never accomplished the 100% perfect compositing that Bay and company have made a reality with this film. In almost every grand SFX movie, there's usually at least one effects flaw at some point in the movie that sticks out like a sore thumb. Not in Transformers. It is absolutely stellar in its design and presentation.

      There's not a lot of story here. If it's a deep plot you're looking for, run. It's boy meets girl, boy meets robots, robots fight. Smaller story threads are not explored or delved into and one in particular is conspicuously and annoyingly abandoned to make sure we see plenty of robots and explosions. Because of this lack of anything resembling character exploration or depth, the more and more I think about the movie, the less and less I like it for its hollowness.

      One of my biggest problems was my inability to tell the difference between the robots. To me, they all looked the same (same for one or two obvious ones). I have no idea how to tell the difference between "Jazz" or "Ratchet" or "Starscream" or "Barricade" when they are locked in heated battle. During the climactic battle sequence, it seems to be just a hustle and bustle of metal and explosions. Again, it looks fantastically amazing, but a whirlwind nonetheless. Oh yeah, the voices and sound effects are pretty wicked too.

      Because there was so little depth to the machines, it was really hard to care too much for one side or the other. In my opinion, I didn't really care who won the battle. The film makers just wanted it to look cool (and it does); they didn't seem to care too much about giving us an emotional investment in anything going on. Hell, the world could've exploded at the end and everyone dies and as long as it looked cool, I probably wouldn't have cared. That's how much nothingness is packaged in this film cannister.

      Another problem I had was with some of the attempts at humor. Because LeBeouf has comedic timing and charisma, he is able to pull some of it off okay, but most of the lines are rife with eye-rolling and groans from the audience. Whenever the robots are trying to be witty it just doesn't work. It probably works for an eight-year old, and that's fair enough, but for the rest of us? No.

      There's really not much else to point to here. It is what it is. Fanboys will be in heaven and their girlfriends that are dragged along will be upset until they find out that it does get fairly exciting and even the girls can admit this looks pretty cool. I've read complaints that there is not enough robots and too much interaction between the humans before anything starts. To be honest, I have no idea what movie those people were watching; it certainly wasn't Transformers.

      Despite all of its problems when it comes to story development, character depth, dialogue and plot, this really is a pretty good time at the theater. I can pretty much guarantee you waon't see anything cooler this summer. If all you need is guns, explosions and AMAZING looking robots bashing each other to death, this is 120% your movie. Just be sure that's what you really want. I thought that was what I wanted, and although I did have a good time with it, I still left the theater feeling a little empty inside.

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