Somehow Transformers Is Not Terrible

Posted in Reviews at 1:11 pm by Stephen

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.


  1. siochembio (82) said,

    July 4, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    My hubby’s a huge Tformers fan, so we were at the Monday night first showing. He LOOOOOVED it, which is great for him, but surprisingly for me, I thought it was pretty decent. I laughed a lot, which I wasn’t expecting.

    I agree with Stephen’s review - it’s surprisingly entertaining.

  2. Randy (21) said,

    July 4, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    As a big Transformers fan, I went in with low expectations. I knew it wasn’t going to be like the cartoon. I knew I was going to not like what they turned Megatron into, based on the pics they released. I knew that the human part of the story would feel kinda tacked on.
    I was right on all this, and I still loved it. I don’t clap at the end of movies, I think its stupid. I clapped here. heh. When me and the rest of the guys in the audience were screaming about how awesome it was during the first bot fight, I felt really sorry for every girlfriend or wife there. Stephen’s points are pretty dead on, but I think that it actually is a good film. Almost enough to forgive Bay for all his other stuff.

  3. Stephen (221) said,

    July 4, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    Whoa, there, Randy. This is nowhere near enough to earn Bay forgiveness for Pearl Harbor and Armageddon. Besides, The Rock is still Bay’s best film.

  4. K.T. Slager (55) said,

    July 4, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    All these reviews coming in saying that Transformers doesn’t suck absolutely shocks me! My local paper gave it four stars… out of four!

    To be fair, Shia LeBeouf is actually quite likable, so no surprise there. And, to be even fairer, Michael Bay probably didn’t do any of the editing personally. But I’m sure he hired the editors and told them something along the lines of “make it exciting”.

  5. Stephen (221) said,

    July 5, 2007 at 2:09 am

    It’s pretty clear from his filmography that Bay is highly involved in the editing room. I can think of very few directors whose films have such a distinct style of editing. It’s sort of like saying that a director isn’t responsible for the look of a shot, because the DP set it up and the camera operator filmed it.

  6. K.T. Slager (55) said,

    July 5, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Oh, no.

    Well, then there’s no excuse.

  7. Randy (21) said,

    July 5, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Hey, I did say almost. And I forgot about The Rock.

  8. nate42 (10) said,

    July 6, 2007 at 4:13 am

    I enjoyed The Island to an extent, but The Rock is awesome. I could go the rest of my life without ever seeing Armageddon again and be perfectly happy. Pearl Harbor was so-so for me. Transformers was a decent attempt. I think it could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse. I thought that the humor was stupid and childish, but the action sequences were great, and I was surprised by the fact that going into the movie, I thought that the giant robots would be the stars, but I really enjoyed Shia LaBeoufs’ acting. To me, he was really one of the only actors in the movie, including the robots, that really seemed human to me.

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