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Looks Great, Needs More Story

  • Sep 29, 2007
"Transformers" may be the most audience dividing movie I've seen this year. It has as many things going for it as it does against it, and debating the pros and cons of the film could make any sane person feel the need to find a new hobby. On one hand the movie comes from director Michael Bay ("Armageddon," "Pearl Harbor "), who delivers the kind of film you'd except him to deliver: A film that is noisy, loud, and an assault on the senses. Like most Bay movies though, this one is also a lot of fun, no matter how brainless it might be. On the other hand it's a movie based off a TV series that was designed to sell toys, which means this movie contains an onslaught of product placement from Chevrolet cars, to eBay plugs, to a Mountain Dew machine that turns into a robot. What you think I'm making all this up?

Take these two things and bundle them in a $200 million dollar budget, and you've got not really a movie but a glorified commercial. But man, just like those Jack In The Box commercials this commercial is quite entertaining at times. The story for this movie doesn't really matter that much in the long run, but it revolves around a teenage boy named Sam ("Even Steven's" Shia LaBeouf) attempting to raise money to buy a car for himself (something that is every teens dream), a situation that is at the point of desperation thst Sam has turned to selling his grandpa's glasses on eBay to earn money. Needless to say he DOES raise the money, gets the car, and uses it to try and woo local pretty girl Mikaela Banes, who turns out to be a quite a useful car mechanic.

What Sam doesn't know is that robots from another planet (known as Decepticons) have landed on Earth, and they are looking for an item known only as "The Cube," which they intend to use to turn anything mechanical into a robot. No, I'm not making that up either. What the Decepticons don't know is that their mortal enemies, the Cybertron's, are looking for the Cube as well, though they want to destroy it without harming the humans. The first Cybertron we meet is Bumblebee, who is hiding as Sam's yellow Camaro. Bumblebee can't speak, but he uses his radio frequency to communicate, a gimmick that works better then you might think it would. When Sam finally meets the leader of the Cybertron's, Optimus Prime, he learns that the key to the Cube's location is actually imprinted in the glasses of Sam's grandfather. No, I am totally NOT making that up!

All this is just smoke and mirrors though, as the real star of the movies are all the explosions, battle sequences, and those cool looking robots themselves. The movie opens with a Decepticon attacking a military base in the Qatar dessert. Then there are several car chases while a Decepticon chases Sam and Bumblebee through the town. When the rest of the Cybertron's make their appearance, a showdown that clocks in at almost a full hour takes place as the Cybertron's help the military fight off the Decepticons and their leader Megatron. Showing more interest in quick cut action scenes then in any character development, "Transformers" is a lot of fun but really shallow, to the point where I was very conflicted about my enjoyment of the film, and passed on writing a review the first time around.

A second viewing at the IMAX gave me a clearer vision of the film though. On the IMAX there is one thing that is very apparent: This is one very good looking film. The screen is so big, you can see the tiniest detail in the cars when they transform into their robot forms. The screen is so big in fact, you can actually appreciate the fact that the robots surroundings are actually reflected in the chrome on their bodies. And for the most part, the robots actually look like they are in the world they are in, instead of being computer images that live on a different layer then that of the actors. In this film, the actors actually interact with the robots very well, and it doesn't look artificial for the most part. The problem is I didn't really enjoy the story as much the second time around.

Despite the fact that the IMAX makes the movie so involving that you feel like you're getting motion sickness, the movie just sort of jumps from here to there looking pretty, without ever truly involving you in the story. The characters are all stereotypical and the storyline is so silly you constantly have the knowledge in the back of your head that this is a glorified toy commercial. Yet I can't completely damn the film either, because the movie IS very entertaining at times! I just can't help but wonder what will happen when I watch this movie on DVD. While I can't be completely sure now, I have a feeling I'll find myself bored with the film. In the right environment this can be a very fun film to watch, but taken out of an environment that provides an experience fit for an event the movie will seem very dull. So if you see it, see it in theaters (or, better yet, IMAX). Just see it on a theater screen of some sort, as I fear a TV screen will take away lots of entertainment this film has to offer.

Rating: ** and a half stars

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Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Ranked #58
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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A long time ago, far away on the planet of Cybertron, a war was being waged between the noble Autobots (led by the wise Optimus Prime) and the devious Decepticons (commanded by the dreaded Megatron) for control over the Allspark, a mystical talisman that would grant unlimited power to whoever possessed it. The Autobots managed to smuggle the Allspark off the planet, but Megatron blasted off in search of it. He eventually tracked it to the planet of Earth (circa 1850), but his reckless desire for power sent him right into the Arctic Ocean, and the sheer cold forced him into a paralyzed state. His body was later found by Captain Archibald Witwicky, and before going into a comatose state Megatron used the last of his energy to engrave a map, showing the location of the Allspark, into the Captain's glasses, and send a transmission to Cybertron. He is then carted away by the Captain's ship. A century later, Sam Witwicky, nicknamed Spike by his friends, buys his first car. To his shock, he discovers it to be Bumblebee, an Autobot in disguise who is to protect Spike, as he bears the Captain's glasses and the map carved on them. But Bumblebee is not the only Transformer to have arrived on Earth - in the desert of Qatar, the Decepticons Blackout and Scorponok attack a U.S. military base, causing the Pentagon to send their special Sector Seven agents to capture all "specimens of this alien race," and Spike and his girlfriend Mikaela find themselves in the middle...
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Cast: Colin Fickes, Michael O'Neill, Anthony Anderson, Robert Foxworth, Glenn Morshower, Jon Voight, Bob Stephenson, Rachael Taylor, Bernie Mac, J.P. Manoux, John Robinson, John Turturro, Rick Gomez, Hugo Weaving, Darius McCrary, Tyrese Gibson, Amaury Nolasco, Chris Ellis, Jess Harnell, Steven Ford, Craig Barnett, Kevin Dunn, Shia LaBeouf, Andy Milder, Travis Van Winkle, Samantha Smith, Zack Ward, Odette Yustman, Johnny Sanchez, Tom Lenk, Michael Shamus Wiles, Charlie Adler, Peter Cullen, Colleen Porch, Mike Fisher, Wiley M. Pickett, Julie White, Jason White, Peter Jacobson, Sean Smith, Brian Stepanek, Esther Scott, Carlos Moreno, Jr., Reno Wilson, Mark Ryan, W. Morgan Sheppard, Rizwan Manji, Josh Duhamel, Ronnie Sperling, Jamison Yang, Megan Fox, Luis Echagarruga, Patrick Mulderrig, Brian Shehan, Michael Trisler, Ashkan Kashanchi, Jimmie Wood, C.J. Thomason, Lt. Frederic Doss, Charlie Bodin, Josh Feinman, Brian Prescott, Scott Peat, Jamie McBride, Brian Reece, Ravi Patel, Andy Dominguez, Madison Mason, Jeremy Jojola, Jessica Kartalija, Andrew Altonji, Andrew Caldwell, Pete Gardner, Sophie Bobal, Laurel Garner, Chip Hormess, Ray Toth, Dan Ferris, Michael Adams, Ron Henry, Benjamin Hoffman, Michael McNabb, Adam Ratajczak, Maya Klayn, Michelle Pierce, Jim Wood
Director: Michael Bay
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: July 3, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
DVD Release Date: October 16th 2007/September 2nd 2008 (Blu-ray)
Runtime: 2hrs 20min
Studio: Dreamworks PIctures, Paramount Pictures
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