Robots. Big f**king robots. If that sounds like something you might like, then you’ll love Michael Bay’s “Transformers”, because it has robots. Big motherf**king robots.
So what’s it about? Um, haven’t you been paying attention? One more time now: Big F**king Robots.
The plot itself is incidental, but if you insist, here it is: Alien robots from the planet Cybertron have come to Earth in search of the All Spark, a giant cube that they lost many years ago when they were too busy fighting it out on their planet, which they eventually destroyed. The robots consist of two factions: the good Autobots, led by the noble Optimus Prime; and the evil Decepticons, led by the menacing Megatron. And they really, really don’t like each other. Prime is determined to save humanity and Earth from a fate similar to the one that befell Cybertron, but Megatron really couldn’t give a damn. He’s an evil bastard that way.
Luckily for us puny humans, our fates hang in the balance of horny teen Sam (Shia LaBeouf), whose great grandfather was a crazy old kook who ran aground in Antarctica one day long ago and stumbled across — well, I won’t spoil it. Needless to say, young Sam has something the Decepticons covet, and it’s up to him and the Autobots to save the All Spark, lest Megatron and company turn Earth into a second Cybertron and enslave humankind. Damn menacing alien robots. Can’t live with them, can’t just blow them up because, well, these suckers are really hard to kill.
But don’t fear, the enterprising Sam has help. There’s the too foxy for words Mikaela (the extremely foxy Megan Fox), who can hotwire a car despite looking like she should be walking fashion runways; the tough but sensitive Special Forces guy Sergeant Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and his company of tough guys (including Tyrese Gibson and Sucre from “Prison Break”); Aussie code cracker Maggie (Rachael Taylor), who ropes in hacker Glen (Anthony Anderson); and of course, the U.S. military, led by the Secretary of Defense, played by the always great Jon Voight, and assisted by John Turturro as a slightly assholic special agent.
Together, they must defend Earth and blah blah blah. Oh, who cares.
It’s about robots. Big f**king robots. And boy, does Bay give you robots. The Bay isn’t messing around, either. He’s not going to tease you, or hide the robots from view in the early parts in hopes of building up expectations. Forget that junk. The film’s first major action set piece comes early, minutes into the film, as the Decepticon Blackout single-handedly (and with great ease) wipes out an American Qatar base, slaughtering everyone except Lennox and a small band of men. Meanwhile, back in the States, Sam is on a quest to find his first car, and he lands a dinky yellow Camaro — in reality, the Autobot Bumblebee, sent by Optimus Prime to keep a watchful eye on Sam.
Basically, if you were a kid who loved the “Transformers” cartoon, and didn’t think anything could get any cooler than 1986’s animated “Transformers: The Movie”, then you will be giddy with 2007’s live-action “Transformers”. The film delivers on your wildest fanboy geek fantasies — big time. You want robot-on-robot action? Damn straight, and you’ll get it, too. Loads and loads of it. The film’s final 30 minutes is nothing but one giant robot royale in the middle of a busy Downtown street, with the Autobots and Decepticons throwing down like with some serious hardware. Which leads to this observation: when giant robots get together, bad stuff happens — like your office building blowing up, your car being reduced to ashes, and some giant metallic foot coming down on you as you’re sipping a latte.
This is precisely the reason why Michael Bay was a perfect choice to direct “Transformers”. You would need to have done hundreds of action movies filled with thousands of explosions a second, and be able to do it all with a blindfold on, in order to even consider orchestrating the mayhem in the final 30 minutes of “Transformers”. You’re damn straight Michael Bay was the only choice for the director’s chair. Simply put, no one blows shit up like The Bay. Now he’s blown shit up on a grand scale, with giant f**king robots to boot. Beat that, Jane Campion!
It goes without saying that “Transformers” is one badass mother of a summer popcorn film. It’s pure mind mush, completely a geek’s fantasy come true in nearly every facet. If you live for superficial characterization, little to no realism, out-of-nowhere plotting, and supremely kickass stunts, then you won’t find a better film this year. Forget “Spider-Man 3”. I’m still somewhat irritated that despite already three installments into the franchise, CGI Spider-Man still looks as fake in part three as he did in part one. The robots in “Transformers”? You’d swear they were real. And when they transform… daaaaaaaaaamn.
You also have to ask yourself why “Transformers”, with its complex transforming robots and over-the-top car chases, street brawls, and robot-on-robot fights, cost about $100 million less than Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man 3”. Or, even more ludicrous, about $30 million cheaper than the comedy “Evan Almighty”. For a man generally considered to wallow in the excesses of Hollywood, Michael Bay certainly proved that he puts the budget where it counts — into the movie. You have to wonder where that extra $100 million for “Spider-Man 3” went, because it certainly didn’t go to improving the special effects…
If it sounds like I’m geeking over “Transformers”, that’s because I am. Forget journalistic integrity (right, like I had any to begin with, I know), this is pure childhood fanboy enthusiasm coming through loud and clear. You won’t find a better, a cooler, a more f**king awesome movie all Summer.
The studio wants you to know that they’re willing to shell out the dough for a second and third installment, but of course that will depend on the box office receipts of “Transformers”.
“Transformers 2” in 2010? One can only hope.
Michael Bay (director) / Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman (screenplay)
CAST: Shia LaBeouf … Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox … Mikaela Banes
Josh Duhamel … Sergeant Lennox
Tyrese Gibson … USAF Tech Sergeant Epps
Rachael Taylor … Maggie Madsen
Anthony Anderson … Glen Whitmann
Jon Voight … Defense Secretary John Keller
John Turturro … Agent Simmons
Peter Cullen … Optimus Prime (voice)