Movie Review: Transformers

There may be more to this review than meets the eye. But probably not.

Cast and Crew:

Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky

Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes

Rachael Taylor as Maggie Madsen

Jon Voight as the Secretary of Defense

2009 Camaro as Bumblebee

Peterbilt
379
as Optimus Prime

Lockheed
Martin F-22
as Starscream

a big crazy robot as another big
crazy robot

Written by committee (seriously, they list five writers on IMDB)

Directed by Michael Bay

Synopsis: Somewhere out there, there’s a whole planet of self-aware robots that can change shape to disguise themselves, and they’re cranky
with one another. The “Allspark,” a vaguely-defined McGuffin and important artifact to them, got lost a while back and crashed on Earth.
They’re looking for it and trying not to step on too many of us in the process.

High Point: If you watched the mid-80s Transformers cartoon, or the original
movie
, the callbacks are nice, and mostly amusing. And the effects are, for the most part, full of the requisite ooh pretty.

Low Point: It’s kinda hard to pin down, but in some scenes the the big robots just don’t quite feel right. Also, there’s a fairly long
scene featuring the Autobots (in their 30-foot tall robot forms) “sneaking” around the Witwicky house that feels out of place, due to its almost
slapstick nature.

The Scores

Originality? In a movie based on a line of toys that’s almost as old as I am? Heh. I’ll give them partial credit for doing a good job of
the adaptation, reducing the line of hundreds of toys down to about a dozen, while being reasonably faithful to the story and the characters. 3/6.

Story: It’s a summer popcorn flick. You don’t go for the deep, involving plotline. For the most part, what story there is makes sense,
though the contortions they went through to make eBay into a crucial plot detail just sits wrong. 3/6.

Effects: Now this is why you’re here. For the most part, the effects are as impressive as you’d expect given the reported $150
million budget. The giant robots just feel… off, though. In particular, close-up shots of their heads and faces when they’re talking look really
strange; it’s their “teeth.” I don’t know if it’s appropriate to apply the uncanny valley
hypothesis
to anthropomorphic props, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Fortunately, most of the time they’re just moving fast and beating each other
up and crashing into buildings and THAT is what you paid eight bucks for. 6/6.

Acting: After the first half-hour or so, the humans mostly run around like extras in a Godzilla flick. What little they get to do is
convincing enough. The Transformers’ voice acting is solid as well. 4/6.

Production: The closest to a production error in the whole movie (that I saw, at least) is the fact that Bumblebee disguises himself as a
2009 Camaro, which you won’t find on the streets in “the present day,” when the movie takes place. While I’m sure repeated viewings on DVD will
reveal the usual production gaffes and such, those are inevitable, and I’ll let the Camaro one slide because it was cool. :) 5/6.

Emotional response: Even though some of the “comedy” scenes felt out of place, I still laughed. There were oohs and aahs and the audience
in my theater cheered at the end of the movie, which is usually a good sign. Nothing overwhelming, but better than a lot of summer action movies.
4/6.

Overall, Transformers is not a perfect film, but it’s not a bad one, and unless you have an amazingly expensive home theater setup, I think
it deserves to be seen on a big screen. 5/6.

That adds to a heroic, but not almighty, 30/42.

10 replies on “Movie Review: Transformers”

  1. chad says:

    Low Point
    I liked the part where they were sneaking around the house. It was a bit slapstick, but that wasn’t a bad thing in my opinion. And his parents’ reaction when the girl showed herself–that was hilarious.

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  2. J_W_W says:

    True to the Original where it matters
    They stayed true to the original Transformers were it mattered. I mean even the storyline even evokes the old cartoon. The voice casting of Optimus was key, though. It turns out that was the only voice you needed to please the fans ;-), and it was great.

    I sure left the theater thinking "This is a summer Blockbuster." I mean 2 1/2 hours of robot mayhem was awesome!! I also think the comedy worked. I hadn’t known that Soundwave was still in the movie, but his "character" was great too.

    All in all I think this was the best Transformer movie that could be made, taking into account the source material and its storylines.

  3. y42 says:

    So many low points!
    The lowest point of the movie: "take your clothes off and my giant robot will piss on you"

    If you want a "technical gaffe": The use of the cartoon transformer sound during the first on-screen transform was cute, but they used the "from robot to vehicle" sound while he was transforming from heli to killer robot.

    Basically I enjoyed the movie up to the garden slapstick scene, afterwards it was a horrible vortex of sucks, including the incoherent, nauseating fight scenes.
    Also since they had publicly announced that they wanted no magical robot shrinking, I find it particularly lame that they feature magical cube shrinking.

    • nitefallz says:

      Re: So many low points!

      The lowest point of the movie: "take your clothes off and my giant robot will piss on you"

      Basically I enjoyed the movie up to the garden slapstick scene, afterwards it was a horrible vortex of sucks, including the incoherent, nauseating fight scenes.
      Also since they had publicly announced that they wanted no magical robot shrinking, I find it particularly lame that they feature magical cube shrinking.

      I always want to ask critics who give bad reviews to movies what they would have wanted to see to make the movie more appealing to them. So I ask you, what would’ve made it better vs what was so horrible about it?

      • y42 says:

        Re: So many low points!

        The lowest point of the movie: "take your clothes off and my giant robot will piss on you"

        Basically I enjoyed the movie up to the garden slapstick scene, afterwards it was a horrible vortex of sucks, including the incoherent, nauseating fight scenes.
        Also since they had publicly announced that they wanted no magical robot shrinking, I find it particularly lame that they feature magical cube shrinking.

        I always want to ask critics who give bad reviews to movies what they would have wanted to see to make the movie more appealing to them. So I ask you, what would’ve made it better vs what was so horrible about it?

        Well, having someone go over the flick and remove all the stupid from it would be a start ("It’s a global blackout, we’ve lost all communications" how could you POSSIBLY know it’s a global event if you have lost all communications? You can’t know what’s going out in the other room without communications!), completely removing the annoying g-man who’s only there so you can hate him enough to WANT to see gay domination/urine porn reenacted on him…

        The movie COULD have been good, it started out pretty well, with the ghost chopper turning to a killer robot and the living car always finding the right tune on the radio, but the good bits got drowned out in the sea of stupid.

        There’s really too many things wrong with this movie to list them here. The McGuffin, that would have to go. Real bad.

  4. shifting says:

    You missed one pretty funny technical error
    During the whole "sneaking" around the Witwicky house scene… the power was supposed to be out, and in the indoor shots, the power looked like it was out, but during all the (cg?) outdoor shots, the house had all kinds of lights on in windows, above the door, etc.

    Oh whatever. it was still fun.

  5. pdavis says:

    High Point
    I was going to say that my high point *was* the "sneaking" around the Witwicky house, I laughed during the whole thing! But then I remembered the opening scene with Blackout, that was my high point.

    BTW, not sure if the previous poster new it or not so I will clarify for others, that wasn’t Soundwave, that was Frenzy. "Devastator" was named incorrectly in the movie, it should have been named "Brawl", checking out the toy line will confirm this.

    I went into the movie with low expectations and was blown away. The theater was packed and applause of joy rang out at the end. I will be going back to see it again.

  6. nkuzmik says:

    Character arc
    Okay, now that I really put some thought into it, nobody but Sam really had a character arc.
    Though this was used rather well with Michela.

    A beautiful woman that knows cars… ::drool::

    The fact that she changed very little forced Sam to change, to meet her standards.

    Recall, that she had a record because she wouldn’t testify against her father. She wouldn’t abandon Sam to Frenzy. She wouldn’t abandon Bumblebee to Devestator. She wouldn’t abandon Lenox and crew to Devestator either.

    In other words, from a plot device perspective, everything she did set the stage for Sam’s big moment.

  7. quantaman says:

    Started good, then weakened
    I enjoyed the movie for about the first half but once they found the cube it seemed to get lost for me. It just seemed like the autobots didn’t really have an objective, they were all together, they had the cube, and had a little time before they were caught by the decepticons, if they were going to do something with the cube why not do it then, if you can’t do something with the cube then just destroy it. Once they seemingly had everything in place and did nothing, nor explained what their next course of action was, their actions seemed kind of pointless. The objective at the end appeared to be to have Sam give the cube to the US military so they could… well maybe I missed that part. I understand that the cube was just a plot device to make them fight but did they need to be so blatant about it?

    As for the battles I only ever saw the dinosaur version of the cartoon and that was a few years ago. Either way I found it difficult keeping track of the different robots, telling which was which or even what side they were on. The battle scenes aren’t nearly as fun when you’re having trouble telling who you’re cheering for. Even when they were fighting I wasn’t sure what they were fighting for, they just seemed to be semi-randomly throwing each other around.

    Between the difficulty in distinguishing transformers and the lack of plot suspense I found the final battle to drag on much too long for my liking and really felt I would have enjoyed it more if they cut 20-30 minutes of that climatic battle out.

  8. is says:

    cool movie
    I knew nothing about the Transformers going in except what I saw in the trailer. I liked it. It’s a big on entertainment and low on plot. I thought the fight scenes were a little long… too much effects, or confusion; not sure.

    Overall though I was entertained and enjoyed the human part a lot more than the robot part. I think this LeBeouf guy is really doing a good job getting out of his child actor image.

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