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"Transformers" Review

I am of the generation that this franchise is most close to, I grew up in the eighties and I remember having several Transformers toys, I even remember watching the animated movie several times with my best buddy bob. However, I don’t remember the story, the characters or much at all about the original eighties cartoon, I think it’s because I was a fan of He-man and Thundercats and I remember them with such great fondness. I think, because of my devotion to the two other major toy-line/ cartoon franchises of the eighties I just didn’t really have room in my life for the Transformers. So I practically went into this film as a newbie.

I don’t know what I was expecting with the combo of a massive budget, giant robots and Michael Bay, but what I should have been expecting and what I got was a fairly determined assault on my senses. I like Michael Bay, being an action fan, but my brain found it very hard indeed to translate what was going on, on the screen into any kind of sense.

Suffice to say it’s not a film for those who seek the solace of art. It is, however, the most straight-up, CG-buffed explosion fest you are likely to see in any film released in 2007. The plot has little concern about dialogue, pacing or even logic all it seems to want to do is to move on to the next scene of ‘Bayhem’. Even amongst the geek-lore of sci-fi the film remains more concerned with laying waste to the scenery than any kind of plausible narrative.

The plot is ludicrous: a box (varying in size from a larger than average building to a handbag) with the power to reconfigure machines into Transformers has ended up on Earth. As, currently, have these opposing gangs of super-robots. First stop is a dumb kid whose great-grandfather’s glasses have the imprint of a map of the box’s location. But why am I trying to make it over complex? Good robots fight bad ones and humans get in the way. The end.

It’s not all bad though Bay has done himself a real favour casting Shia LaBeouf as the excitable loser, about to discover his first car has a big surprise under the hood. He shares the jabber of Woody Allen with Tom Hanks’ steady charisma. Megan Fox is pretty good also, but the way that Bay’s camera laps her up drunkenly, leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable, ok we get it she’s hot! But surely she has more to offer than just her looks?

The special effects have got it going on! The design of the transformers is super complex, as you imagine a race of super machine to be. They gyrate and warp at electric speeds to the satisfying rhythmic clank of metal on metal. In short, the transforming is awesome. The dynamics are intricately detailed, conjuring images of a million sprockets whirring in unison. All their U-turns and spins, skid-stops and take-offs are choreographed into a stunning ballet of impossible motion. Without a doubt these are some of the most impressive CGI effects that I have ever seen.

Unfortionatley, the greatest merit to this film, for me, is also its greatest problem, this is after all an action film, and when you can’t make heads or tails out of the action because the transformers designs are so intricate, it sort of detracts from the point of having the action in the first place.

I am under no illusions at all that this film is just meant to be a bit of fun, it’s just meant to be some big robots beating up some other big robots, that’s fine. But I feel like Transformers is trying to be so much more, by trying to fit in sub plots and character growth and not only do these additions all fall flat on their faces but they also push the run time of the film to two and half hours making it way too long to be "just a bit of fun."

If this film was about an hour shorter, and slowed the action down to pace where my brain had a chance to fathom what was going on, on the screen I think I could have got on with this film a lot better, but as it stands, despite the amazing CGI, out of all the Michael Bay films I have seen, I would say this is probably the worst.


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