July 27, 2007


Michael Bay is considered by many to be the worst director on the planet. A valid explanation for this is his unfair helming of high-profile projects better left to visionary intellectuals. The Island, for instance, could have been a landmark of political film making in the hands of Mike Leigh or Oliver Stone. Instead we have a mindless action thriller in which the contemporary moral issues are sounded out by explosive helicopter crashes and Sean Bean’s accent. Similarly, the rights to Pearl Harbour fell dangerously into the hands of the tasteless Bay, leaving us with a style-over-substance mash up of one of the greatest battles in military history.

Yet there is a god. Transformers is simply THE project for the maverick director, a chaotic 2 hours of fast cars and robots from outer space. It may be based on a 1980’s cheese-fest cartoon, but the film is a slick and savvy blockbuster to rule them all. How did this happen? Whatever the answer, even the most sour and cynical among us would have to fight to dislike Transformers

For a start, nobody does action like Bay. The delightfully frequent battle sequences are epic, creative and tighter than Germaine Greer. Every penny is on screen as the awesome creatures begin to come alive, anhialating pathetic humans left, right and centre. The production design deserves serious Oscar consideration, purely for the incredible logistics and engineering on display each time a transformation takes place. It’s a war to drool over- the immense Autobots and Decepticons make ferociously formidable enemies that belittle any other ‘superhero’ you think you’ve enjoyed this Summer. It might be blatant techno-porn but you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Popcorn is chowed down at a rate of knots as Sam (Shia LeBeouf) finds himself pursued by the Decepticons in search of vital information he has unwittingly inherited. It turns out Sam’s grandad stumbled upon the remains of the dark and powerful Megatron, and his followers are re-uniting to destroy the human race. Bummer. He may have his diary full chasing gorgeous grease-monkey Mikaela (Megan Fox) around, but now there’s bigger fish to fry.

The script is surprisingly funny for a shallow action romp, and LeBoeuf and Fox are very likeable leads. Even Stevens child star LeBoeuf in particular is one to watch, holding his own against the giant CGI bots with real energy and charisma. With several other high-profile roles under his belt and in the pipeline, Transformers is a fine vehicle for his talents. A number of established stars also make bizarre cameos that actually work very well. Coen brothers’ favourite John Turturro is a wonderfully pathetic government official and Jon Voight tries to keep a lid on things as the big security cheese. Absurdly good-looking female computer scientists and army men grace every frame of the film- probably to distract us from the laughable science rubbish they talk- but then believability was never going to be top of the agenda.

Where Transformers really hits the spot is the balance of wit and warm fuzziness with the mammoth, supsenseful set-pieces. Sam and Mickela’s relationships with the Autobots are touching and strikingly human considering one side of said relationships are big chunks of metal. It’s a tough dimension to nail if your film is a shamelessly shallow actioner, the perils clearly demonstrated in the ‘talky’ bits of Titanic, Gladiator and more recently 300. It’s refreshing to see such a heavily battle-based film do the sensitive, conversational side with charm to equal any teen movie of the last decade.

No supporting role is taken for granted, with several minor characters in scene-stealing turns. Fat figure of fun Anthony Anderson is on hand with his usual ‘opressed token black guy’ comedy stylings, and it’s actually very funny. Bay does glossy and slick better than anyone, and the Spielberg producer credit suggests more than a passing influence on proceedings. His uniquely brave yet populist sheen is hard to miss- at times it oozes E.T quirk even more than Donnie Darko. No word or frame is wasted and (somewhat sadly) it all flies by at hyperspeed without releasing its grip on your throat.

Defying all expectation, it even boasts a rather large brain at times. The idea that the cryogenically-frozen Megatron gave rise to every great scientific discovery of the 20th century is an inspired ‘Ohhhhhhhh’ moment, as is the secret success of Beagle’s mission to Mars. You’ve found a happy place when intellectuals and bad-ass alien machines rub shoulders so seamlessly.

If you don’t want to think about what you’re watching, go and see Transformers. If you want slick, solid action and suspense, if you have a sense of humour, if you have eyes- go and see Transformers. I really wanted to hate this film, but there’s no denying that for the pure pleasure of cinematic entertainment, there hasn’t been an event like this since Jurassic Park.   


4/5 big loud noises


2 Responses to “Transformers”

  1. ben travis said

    I’m going to see this today! For ages everyone was like “I can wait for Pirates 3!”
    I was there going “Shut up, Transformers is gonna be the best thing ever”

    Also, ironically, none of us saw little miss sunshine in the same showing. That film really did something for me, and I cant really describe it. I guess it did the same for Alex and Ellie…

    I guess I was also used to a poor acting standard from the other HP films, but I figured that if I only saw OOTP, I wouldn’t think “this acting sucks”, but wouldn’t be overly bowled over. Therefore I felt it was worth a mention as it was much better than in the other films.

    Keep blogging. I like reading your scathing reviews, and watching you pick a film apart until theres no way I can watch it without thinking about what you said. Though it seems we often have different opinions, its cool to know someone actually reads the blog…


  2. Ben Travis said

    finished my transformers review.
    but i did it

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: