“Transformers” (2007) *1/2 (out of 5)
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Jon Voight, and Anthony Anderson
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, John Rogers (story), Orci & Kurtzman (screenplay). Based on the Hasbro toy line.
Directed by: Michael Bay
*NOTE- This review was completed in 2007 and submitted to a site called IndiePulp.com, which is still up and running. This was the only review I did for them*
While watching Transformers, I was reminded of a scene from Spaceballs in which Dark Helmet orders Colonel Sandurz to skip ‘light speed’ and ‘ridiculous speed’ and go straight to ‘ludicrous speed’. Transformers takes it up a notch further. If Dark Helmet’s ship went ‘plaid’, then maybe Transformers runs argyle or something. It never stops to breathe, not even for talking scenes, since the dialogue is delivered as if every actor had to pee like a race horse. That reason among others makes what could have been an interesting sci-fi fantasy parable that lifted the Transformers tale to another level ends up being a dumb, superficial film that many will forget about five minutes after leaving the theater.
Audiences with half a brain should know by now what they’re getting into with a Michael Bay film. The occasional crude joke is thrown in the mix, important people will frequently conglomerate and say ‘Oh my God’, and love interests will forego the whole relationship thing and move right into soul mate status, all amongst the backdrop of ‘splosions’ (explosions) and swift editing. People usually love or hate his films (I admit to owning four of them); there are scant few undecided’s. His last film, 2005’s The Island, wasn’t epic by any means, but was slightly more mature than previous efforts. At the helm of Transformers, he is in charge of subject material that already has a faithful following and meaningful history, a film that did not need Bay-isms to be enjoyable. Bay takes a step back here, seemingly content to make another music video-like film. At least the look of the ‘roboaliens’ (I came up with that all by myself) turned out well. It’s the lone highlight of the film.
Having seen Transformers, I am now quite positive that every actor who works with Michael Bay is contracted to slam a case of Red Bull before each take. They talk so rapidly, react quickly without questioning, and blow by logic so hastily that a heavy dose of stimulant is the only explanation. I just might have been able to forgive the movie all ills had one character stopped and wondered aloud ‘Seriously, what the hell is happening here? Alien robots?!?!?!’ Every time humans interacted, I was reminded of how jumpy I used to get after a two-liter of the now defunct Surge beverage, forgoing all normal conversation. Maybe if my car had been an alien robot, my actions would’ve seemed normal.
As a side note, I’m wondering just how much executive producer Steven Spielberg was involved in the project. If he left his scent on it at all, I sure didn’t catch a whiff. (That’s a bad thing). Other critics might praise the film for not taking itself seriously. I wonder, though, if we shouldn’t start holding these alleged popcorn films to a higher standard. After all, films like Batman & Robin were critically panned for purposely hamming it up. Why is Transformers any different? For that matter, why do we need more ‘popcorn’ films? Will popcorn cease to exist without them? Why do most fantasy or comic-to-film adaptations insist on being just fantasy or comic book movies? I suppose there is money to be made. Me, I’ll just pop in my Batman Begins DVD and hope the genre will see better days ahead.