Directed by Michael Bay.
Written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
Starring Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and Jon Voight.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 7/3/07
A friend of mine bought me the first five
episodes of the cartoon series "Transformers" about five years ago
for my birthday; people who have known me for a while know that I'm
a huge fan of the toys and the TV show and the star-studded
theatrical movie from 1986 (featuring--shocker!--Orson Welles, Casey
Kasem and Judd Nelson) and damn near everything Transformers.
I still remember the first one I bought, Sideswipe, and my brother
and I went on to buy pretty much every major character after that.
Megatron. Jazz. Optimus Prime. Soundwave.
Starscream. Ratchet. Ironhide. Bumblebee. It's a shame that they've all been lost/broken/eaten/given away,
because they were my favorite toys to play with growing up.
I've been following the progress of this
movie since inception, and for me, the turning point came when
director Michael Bay was hired. Bay, who has truly been a
source of both good ("Bad Boys", "The Rock") and evil
("Armageddon"), has a penchant for blowing shit up but not such a
great background with working with strong actors. I thought
that this might work, though, because for the first time, Bay won't
have a truly gifted cast to work with AND all he has to do is blow
shit up while hoping that his CGI department delivers the goods on
some bad-ass visuals.
This, combined with taking care of the
hard-core Transformers fan base (which, if I can believe what I'm
seeing so far from other friends of mine, is quite large amongst men
and women), makes "Transformers" a surprise: a good,
solid--albeit overly long--action film that features the toys I
remember in a modern setting while keeping the story simple and the
effects fancy...AND, amazingly, featuring a human cast that does a
good job. Instead of giving us the TV show's history lesson of
following the Autobots (good guys) and Decepticons (bad guys) from
their days on Cybertron to when they left for other planets to find
energy that can be dumped into Energon Cubes and sent back to
Cybertron via a space bridge--hehehe--the movie takes another angle.
Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving, Agent Smith of "The Matrix" fame), the leader of the Decepticons, is frozen in a lab where
he's been for 70 years; his disciples have been searching the planet
for him, and when the movie opens, they have just about found him by
going through extensive files in the US military's database (they're
crafty) and learning that both Megatron and The Cube--which is silly
and will be left to be explained by those who followed its brief
history in this movie--are located in the same lab near Hoover Dam.
The Autobots are scouring the universe looking for this cube, but
luckily, one of their scouts, Bumblebee, has found the kid (Shia
LeBeouf) whose grandfather buried The Cube many years before Megatron
was captured trying to discover it. Bumblebee protects the kid
while the military ramps up for a major defensive, since they have
seen the power and might of the Decepticons during an incredible
opening sequence when one of their spies makes a run on that
Whatever. Here's what is important:
The Transformer robots are all pretty
much sexy-time. We get some familiar faces--good guy
second-in-charge Jazz, Ratchet, Ironhide, Bumblebee, Starscream,
Megatron, and of course, Optimus Prime...and, in what has to be
the greatest, coolest, most important thing about the new movie,
somebody tracked down Peter Cullen, who voiced Prime in the
1984-87 TV show, and had him voice Prime in this movie.
I'm telling you, this rivals the moment in the credits of
"Superman Returns" when they played "The Superman Music", which
might be the most heroic theme of our times. The special
effects will be nominated for an Oscar and watching the robots
transform is strangely a thing of beauty.
There is a lot of filler between bot
battles, but then again, watching the Transformers wrestle for
two hours would have been boring, so thankfully, Bay gets a lot
of mileage out of his two leads, LeBeouf (who truly has "major
movie star" written all over him; I'm amazed at his charisma
onscreen after really just five major motion pictures) and Megan
Fox, who is jailbait-sexy as a high schooler with heavily-toned
abs. The script has some great laughs and mixing things up
between this pairing, the military's plight (led by Josh Duhamel
and Tyrese Gibson, the people have good reason to have faith in
our soldiers, ahem) and the government action (with Jon Voight
taking a check to run around as the Secretary of Defense) makes
the adventure worth taking.
Major Transformer botches are kept to a
minimum, but still, I should have been consulted before any
movie was released. First, Megatron, is a plane in this
film, not a gun as he is in every other iteration of this
franchise. Second, Soundwave--the tape deck Decepticon
that could release his mini-tape killers on command, like Ravage
the dog and Laserbeak the pterodactyl while yelling
"OPERATION...DESTRUCTION" is either not in this movie or he is
shamefully the very, very, very small boombox that does all the
spying for Megatron early in this movie. Either way, they
blew it. Third, Spike and Sparkplug--the human friends to
the Autobots who only had one outfit, the construction uniform
they were wearing in the first episode of the TV show--are now
Sam and Ron; couldn't we have just named them Spike and
Sparkplug? How hard would that have been?
Otherwise, this thing is great; even freakin'
Dave Bell liked this movie, and Dave Bell normally hates everything
that isn't called "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." Finally, a new
summer franchise emerges that I'm excited about!
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard