Directed by: Michael Bay
Premise: A war erupts between two groups of gigantic alien robots. A high school student (Shia LaBeouf) and his crush (Megan Fox) find themselves caught between the aliens and government officials when the parties realize that a family heirloom holds the key to the robot’s war.
What Works: Transformers is a great deal of fun for those who enjoy popcorn science fiction films or professional wrestling. The robots are fantastically rendered beings with tremendous detail. The film gives them plenty of opportunities for carnage and the third act is an action fan’s delight as the robots engage in an all out rumble, leveling property and engaging in one-on-one wrestling right out of a Godzilla film.
What Doesn’t: Transformers lacks character development across the entire cast of the picture. Some character distinctions are attempted with an Army sergeant played by Josh Duhamel and between the characters played by LaBeouf and Fox, but no one is really changed by the events and none of the character traits go beyond a superficial level. Throughout the film, the narrative jumps between various sets of characters, including government officials, military personnel, and civilians, but never stops long enough to develop anyone. This is especially true of the Transformers. Instead of making them into actual characters like C-3PO and R2-D2 from the Star Wars, Robbie the Robot in Forbidden Planet, or Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Transformers remain special effects more than characters. This is derivative of the larger problem of the film, in that it does not put anything palatable at stake. When Transformers finally arrives at its climax, the visuals are a spectacular collection of explosions and destruction but none of it means anything to the viewer.
Bottom Line: Transformers is not a great film but it is fun in the same way that Godzilla films are fun; that is, it is a great spectacle of destruction. As a film based on a toy line, its sure to sell more toys and thrill a few nostalgic twenty-somethings, but as a film it is a fairly a by-the-numbers exercise in special effects.
Episode: #147 (July 8, 2007)