***1/2 (out of 5)
July 3, 2007
Shia LaBeouf as SAM WITWICKY
Megan Fox as MIKAELA BANES
Josh Duhamel as SERGEANT LENNOX
Tyrese Gibson as SERGEANT EPPS
Rachael Taylor as MAGGIE MADSEN
Anthony Anderson as GLEN WHITMANN
Jon Voight as DEFENSE SECRETARY JOHN KELLER
John Turturro as AGENT SIMMONS
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by: Michael Bay
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
As a self-admitted fanboy and Internet review enthusiast, I have found myself a bit conflicted as of late. And it all has to do with Michael Bay’s latest film, the highly anticipated live-action adaptation of “Transformers.”
It’s no secret that I think Michael Bay is a hack. And my opinion hasn’t changed with this new film. But unlike his latest stinkers like “The Island” and “Bad Boys II,” “Transformers” is a guilty pleasure. It’s him working his hack skills at their best.
Although I am a child of the 80s, I was just a bit too old to get into “Transformers” when they first hit the airwaves. So I’m not sucked in by the nostalgia of the series, and I see all the goofiness of this new film for what it is. But I can look past a lot of warts. I’ll admit I had fun, and I plan to see it again when I take my sons to see it on the 4th of July.
Still, I’m not going to dote all over this movie. If you want that, read any number of other reviews from fanboy critics out there whose dream has come true with a computer-generated Optimus Prime and Megatron. Suffice to say, I liked “Transformers.” Heck, I might have even loved it on some level.
But the anticipation – especially on the Internet – has been almost insurmountable. Early estimates which put the final gross of the film in the low $200 million range have ballooned into the mid $300 millions. And that may happen, but other than “300,” can you remember a film in the past few years that actually lived up to its hype?
“Clerks II,” “Snakes on a Plane” and “Grindhouse” all had mad hype and sunk fast. I don’t think “Transformers” will necessarily take that kind of hit, but I think when its opening “seven-day weekend” is over and we’ve sobered up with a hype hangover, we all might realize that there isn’t a whole lot of difference between this film and the other blockbusters of the summer like “Spider-Man 3” and “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”
A friend of mine has equated seeing this film to seeing “Jurassic Park” fourteen years ago for the first time, and I can’t say that’s an unfair comparison. I loved “Jurassic Park.” Sure, the story was goofy, the characters were shallow and the dialogue was pretty corny. But it featured something we had never seen before – computer generated dinosaurs kicking a whole lotta ass.
And likewise, “Transformers” appeals to an audience the same way. No one is seeing this movie for the plot, characters or dialogue. People are seeing this for four words: Robots blowing things up.
And holy crap, it delivers huge on that.
The places where the film falters is when the robots aren’t around, or when they’re around but not blowing things up. The dialogue is mind-numbingly bad in this film, and the characters are so scattered and underdeveloped, it’s hard to believe that a professional writer penned the script. And if the robots aren’t engaged in battle, the film loses its spark.
For example, there’s one scene where the Autobots have followed Sam (Shia LaBeouf) home to search for a key plot item. The scene falls apart with the robots sneaking around the flower garden and Sam’s parents trying to have a sensitive conversation with him about masturbation. Yes, it’s Michael Bay’s bad dialogue at its best.
Sure, there are plenty of stupid parts in the film, and as much as they tried to force the comic relief, I found myself howling more at the unintentionally hilarious lines. But I can’t deny I had a lot of fun at this film.
So do yourself a favor this summer. See “Transformers.” Better yet, see it on the big screen, because the action sequences won’t hold up on home video. But don’t expect anything more than a big, dumb summer action film with hot chicks, Shia LaBeouf and a lot of robots blowing things up.