Saturday, June 10, 2017

Movie Review: "Transformers" (2007)

Director: Michael Bay
Year: 2007
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 24 minutes

A teenager named Sam Witwicky buys his first car, not knowing it is a giant shape-shifting robot called a Transformer. The Transformers are on earth looking for a huge source of power known as the AllSpark. Little does Sam know, he has a map to the location of the AllSpark.

"Transformers" is directed by Michael Bay and is based on the children's toy and cartoon series of the same name. It stars Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, a teenager who is always looking for an angle on how to get money so he can buy his first car. Joining him is Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes, who Sam has had a crush on for a long time. Lucky for Sam, she has just now started to take notice of him. When Sam finally gets enough scratch for his first car, an old beat up yellow Camaro, it turns out to actually be a giant robot called a Transformer. Its name is Bumblebee, and it is a member of a faction known as the Autobots. These Autobots have sought Sam out because he unknowingly holds a clue to the location of the AllSpark, a giant cube that holds massive energy. Unfortunately, a villainous Transformer faction known as the Decepticons is also looking for this energy source and will stop at nothing to get it. Also rounding out the cast of this epic action flick are Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, and John Turturro.

As a child, BigJ was a huge fan of the "Transformers" cartoon series despite it being what is basically a string of 30-minute toy commercials. When it was first announced that Steven Spielberg was producing a live-action version of the cartoon, we got sort of excited to see one of our childhood memories becoming an adult reality. Of course, we also knew Michael Bay was involved, which dampened and tempered that excitement a bit, though a movie about giant transforming robots from space who battle one another is clearly up Bay's alley. "Big budget special effects, huge explosions, and mindless fun" is the exact description of Bay's entire filmography.

This initial installment to the now long-running franchise is surprisingly decent and mostly enjoyable. LaBeouf does a good job as the spastic but clever Sam Witwicky. Megan Fox is only in the flick to be eye candy, a tradition that would carry on through the series with numerous different actresses who don't get a lot to do other than stare and look pretty while spouting off important dialogue every once in a while (until they compare their director to Hitler and get fired over it). Overall, the Industrial Light and Magic special effects used to create the Transformers are implemented excellently and look spectacular. Though the story is about chasing after a MacGuffin for almost two and a half hours, it is still mostly engaging to watch unfold. Everyone involved with this project seems like they are having fun making this movie, so the audience is in on the excitement right with the. Though the material is mediocre at best, the characters, the adventures they go on and the trials they must go through are just interesting enough to keep the audience invested. There are a few self-aware jokes throughout the picture as well, which gives it a little much-needed campiness. That being said, like most of Bay's movie, it is far too long, and there are several long stretches that feel like filler in between the robot action. Some characters, mainly Jon Voight's Defense Secretary John Keller, feels wildly out of place for such a dopey movie like this.

This first film in the "Transformers" series isn't terrible, and while it can be an over-the-top, fun popcorn action flick for some, it's definitely not one we clamor to watch on the regular.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 57%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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