Well, the day has come. After nearly a year of whining, fearing, and dreading, the Transformers movie has been unleashed on the world. I know what you’re all waiting for, was it as I bad as I expected?
It was worse.
This is totally ignoring the changes from the cartoon, the toys, the comic books, and everything else, this is judging it simply as a movie, and to be blunt, it is a giant mess. Poorly shot, a thread bare script, zero character development, and even poor make-up! There are several embryos of good ideas here that quickly get killed off by taking the movie in a totally different direction at a moments notice.
This is a typical Michael Bay film in some ways, and in other ways, it almost feels like he was overwhelmed by the enormity of the property. It appears he wanted to focus on the human aspect of the story so that the audience could relate to the story more, but his human characters come off as more caricatures and archetypes than the robots did. Characters are defined by one to two lines of dialogue at most, and are disposable and interchangeable. Even though a good chunk of the movie is devoted to the humans, they get the lions share of the first hour, you never care about them. You see some characters die a bloody death that have been there since the opening shots of the credits, and you couldn’t care less they are gone.
When all else fails, they added more characters! Yes, what would a movie with aliens, even giant robots, be without a “We-know-better-than-anyone-else” top secret government organization? Oh yeah, we had one, a group named Sector 7. Why not just make them part of the Defense Department since we already had those characters involved? Instead, John Turturro comes into the film as the gung-ho, pain-in-the-butt government agent. The poor guy is wasted, and he plays it so over-the-top, it’s downright painful to watch.
Then there’s Megan Fox as Mikaela, the hot bodied teenage girl that Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky is trying desperately to impress. Now, when we meet her, she’s the stereotypical girl who dates the captain of the football team, but just happens to have been taught cars by her dad. Okay, bit thin, but no problem. However, once Sector 7 is brought in, Agent Simmons informs Sam that his little girlfriend has a juveniele record, and her dad was a car thief. That’s how she learned cars. Um… the other explanation wasn’t enough? You had to muddy the waters, and take up even more time, by adding a shady past to her? What purpose did it serve but to burn more screen time? Yes, she hot wires a tow truck at the end, but she could have known that from the first explanation, you didn’t need to waste more time with a pointless story aspect.
It may seem like a small thing, but it is just one example of many I could give of how this movie wasted valuable time on silly matters that did nothing to further the story. Easily a half-hour could have been cut from this film and you wouldn’t have even noticed. As it was, there was an obvious cut scene earlier in the film between Sam and Mikaela that was missing as Mikaela thanks Sam for the fun time… that we have no clue what she’s referring to.
So what about the technical aspects, the true stars of the film? Well, I mentioned make-up earlier, which does qualify in my book, and all I will say is I would love to know why Sam and Mikaela looked oily in every single shot they’re in. Even before the fights, you just want to take a wash cloth to their faces in every scene.
As for the robots themselves, the supposed stars of the film… they’re a dismal failure. At times, they look impressive as all get out, but in fight scenes, due to all the dark coloring on all aspects of the majority of them, it just becomes a big ball of black. You can’t tell who’s who unless it’s Bumblebee or Optimus Prime in the fight as they are the only ones with distinctive colors. Otherwise, your guess was as good as anyone’s as to who was fighting who in the big fights.
And their characterizations are just pathetic. Jazz and Ratchet get next to no lines, Ironhide seems to whine a lot. As for the Decepticons, they get it even worse. Megatron doesn’t show up until the end, Starscream barely speaks, Barricade is just brute force, Frenzy will make you want to kill him, Bonecrusher really only has one scene, Devestator just rolls through, Scorponok doesn’t seem to have a reason to exist except to have one fight, Blackout barely spoke… they are more set dressing with no real personalities.
There were times I could feel a good Transformers movie trying to break out, it really was there under all this mess. I could feel that child-like giddyness of seeing toys and characters I loved as a child in a real world setting. The arrival of the Autobots, the Autobots escorting Bumblebee with the Allspark, even the scene of the Autobots hiding from Sam’s dad was good. Notice though, these are all scenes focusing on the Autobots, not on the one-dimensional human characters. If someone had reminded Michael Bay the movie was supposed to be about the actual Transformers, I think he would have gotten a lot further.
It really failed on every mark though. Even the humor was just a mess and badly timed. And it also led to me finally throwing my hands up. All I’ll say is it involves Bumblebee and lubricant… you’ll know it when you see it. I threw my hands up literally, and heavily pondered walking out. It was just that bad.
I know that no matter what I say, people will still see this movie in droves, but for me, it’s more about pure laziness and sloppiness that angers me the most about this production. It appears they knew they had a money maker on their hands, so why bother with putting in actual effort and turning out a quality, well rounded, production?