Why did I stand in line for an hour last night at 9 p.m. to watch a Michael Bay movie I expected to hate? Because I’m retarded, that’s why. But you know what? Transformers — and I can’t believe I’m typing these words — isn’t terrible. I don’t know that it’s particularly good, but it’s big, it’s loud, it’s goofy, and it’s even kinda fun. I actually enjoyed a Michael Bay movie about huge robots beating the crap out of each other.
I’m not really sure why I had a good time. Looked at objectively, the flick is a mess. It’s too long, there are far too many characters and stories that serve only to rob the film of a strong narrative cohesion, and Bay’s hyperkinetic editing is as annoying as ever (I hope you like lots of two second shots of planes/helicopters taking off!).
But the movie is something that knows how silly it is, that doesn’t ask us to take any of it seriously, and delivers plenty of stupid laughs along the way. The special effects are amazing and when he needs to Bay is able to really ramp up to some neat action scenes.
Of course it probably doesn’t hurt that I have fond memories of Transformers as a kid, and when we hear the classic “transforming sound” or get ultra cheeseball lines like, “By the end of this day, one shall stand and one shall fall,” I felt the giddiness of playing with giant robots when I was a child.
Probably most surprising to me is that the main story, about a high schooler who accidentally buys a beat-up Camaro (non-spoiler: it’s actually a robot! in disguise!) and tries to woo the hot chick, I actually enjoyed. Shia LaBeouf, who plays the teenager, is a surprisingly good actor. I guess he’s popular among “the kids” today from some TV shows I’ve never seen, but he clearly has the potential to be a huge movie star. He carries the early parts of the film almost entirely by himself, and he has charisma and a real screen presence that’s surprising for somebody so young.
The other human actors do a decent job with underwritten roles, but John Turturro really shines as a crazy government dude who’s doing… I wasn’t really clear on that part, to be honest. The script is so goofball that I just sort of went along with it and didn’t ask many questions — something I’m almost never capable of doing.
So anyway, if you want to see giant robots transforming into cars and planes and tanks and then fighting, this is the movie for you. If you think it sounds dumb then you’re right. But it’s the kind of guilty pleasure that I can sometimes get into during the summer, and I’m not sorry I saw it.