Transformers Review

Guest Post

An AO response to the live-action Transformers movie was inevitable. Initially, I had no interest in seeing it and I just wasn’t expecting that I’d be writing a response for a number of reasons. First off, I thought it was going to be terrible, which, not so coincidentally, it was. Second of all, Dan Allen had expressed interest in seeing it (his review is coming also). As much as I didn’t want to fuel Michael Bay’s career (I didn’t, since we ended up with free passes, thankfully), the notoriety surrounding the movie was too great. Everyone I know who saw it said “It was awesome,” which was pre-bolstered by generally good reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 59% and a 7.3/10 in the Cream of the Crop (the choice reviewers) section, unprecedented for anything Michael “I think I’m cool because I look like I drive a 5.0 Mustang” Bay directed since The Rock, which didn’t have nearly as high a Cream of the Crop rating. I was afraid I might even like Transformers. Putting temptation over the fact that I started an anti-Bay Transformers Facebook group months before the release, I took the plunge. I had to see it. I shot Dan an IM on Sunday and we were ready to roll for the 4:55 p.m. showing.

Reviewers have generally raved about the special effects. I will not. What a waste of money! The characters in robot mode were much too intricately designed to be any fun to watch during the choppily and haphazardly cut battle sequences. For example, during the Bonecrusher and Optimus Prime fight, I felt like I was watching two giant valve trains mating – typical of many of the battle scenes. It was hard to tell what was taking place other than anything and everything being blown to pieces and destroyed. Mind you, I come prepared to pay attention when I go to the cinema, loaded on the delicate balance of caffeine and nicotine.

While standing still, the robot mode character designs suffered less, but still appeared gaudy and generally undecipherable. Prime gets put on the cross for having flames and I, too, will nail him to it for them. I mean, Peterbilts with paint jobs conned from vintage American hot rods are hardly uncommon. In fact, as a resident of the great state of Pennsylvania (where tractor trailers are the Official State Herding Animal), they nearly outnumber pickup trucks with Confederate Flags driven by the populous and geographically challenged citizens. I wish truckers would try to mix it up now and then by NOT adding flames.

Jazz was cool as a Pontiac Solstice, but Bay needs a brick thrown at him for making all of the Autobots, save for Prime, GM vehicles – and this is coming from a guy who spent eight hours of his twenty-fifth birthday at the GM Nationals muscle car show in Carlisle, PA. Not that GM doesn’t have desirable and fitting models. Iron Hide was better in this vehicle form as a GMC Topkick than the tiny Japanese-sourced support van he was in the original cartoon. That said, he didn’t need swamp-running off-road tires. Overall, having the Autobots as GM equals lame, especially backed against the fact that the only Decepticon car was a Saleen Mustang police car. Bumblebee is a Chevy Camaro; first a 1976 beater model and then a 2009 Camaro Concept, of the fewer than five that exist, three run, two of which are coupes and one of which is the newly showcased convertible. I suppose that it’s probable, in a movie about robots from outer space, that a GM rep is cruising around LA in one of the two running million-dollar-plus Camaro concepts. Simple lesson: Chevy=good and Ford=bad.

I’m not going to waste much more of your time ranting on this stinker of celluloid and binary (Transformers is being shown in DLP also now, which is a strictly digital format), but the human actors need to be commented on. Based on the human characterizations in the film, it’s hard to believe that Michael Bay has ever had any human contact. The characterizations are awkward, and then coupled with horrendous dialog. Even Megan Fox, the brunette stunner with bronze skin, voluptuous curves, seductive eyes and an ample bosom, can do little to save Bay. She’s a pleasure to look at and is a decent actor, but she suffered from the generally terrible script. Shia LeBeouf, who plays the converted “Spike” character Sam, is hailed as being a good performer, but you’d never be able to tell it from seeing him in Transformers.

I could rag on about everything else I didn’t like about the live-action version of the Micro-Man and Diaclone–sourced phenom, but let me end by saying that it was at times unbearable, dumb and a waste of time, which as the owner of Seasons 1 and 2 of the original cartoon, I can say is very reminiscent of the source (except for the waste-of-time part). The negatives greatly outweighed the positives: The Autobots and Decepticons just looked stupid moving in and around actual environments. This was a subject that should have been left for the anime department to handle.