3 August 2007

Transformers Review

Okay, I'll admit it - I'm a fan of Michael Bay movies. It's true! I love his style; I love the way he does over the top action; I love how you don't have to have your brain switched on to enjoy his films. So when I heard that he was making a live-action adaptation of Transformers, I was more than a little excited. Then, when I found out Steven Speilberg would be in the producing chair, five words ran through my mind: 'This is going to rock!'. However, I almost immediately reigned in my expectations - knowing full well that if I let them rocket skywards, I'd only come away disappointed. But after seeing it, I could've let them go as high as I liked - they'd've still been at the very least reached, if not surpassed.

The basic premise of the movie is that a life-giving device called the Allspark was chucked into space ages ago, and - suprise, suprise - crashes into earth. Close in its tracks is the leader of the evil Decepticons, Megatron - only he crashes into Antartica and gets frozen before he can start looking for it. Quite by chance, an explorer discovers him in the 1800s, and gets the location of the Allspark imprinted into his glasses (bear with me...). Skip to 2007; the explorers great-great-grandson Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is about to sell the glasses on eBay; only more of the Decepticons find out - thanks to the wonder that is the world wide web - and try to track him down. Turns out, his newly purchased car is in fact an Autobot - basically, the good guys - named Bumblebee, and he heralds the arrival of the rest of his kin. What ensues is a race to find the Allspark, and either destroy it, or use it to turn Earth's machines into an army of robots to wage war on the galaxy.

Okay, so it's not exactly the most cranial or brilliant of stories - but it works well enough to remain interesting throughout. It's just clever enough to not be instantly dismissed, and just dumb enough not to get in the way of the action.

The question that was on all our minds was, in fact, how cool do the robots look? And to answer - very cool. The special effects are, quite literally in my case, jaw-dropping; every Transformer has an enormous amount of detail put into them, and the transformations from vehicle to giant man-bot are incredibly convincing. Unlike the cartoons - where the Transformers seemed to be able to change size at will - here the smaller cars produce smaller robots, whereas a ruddy great tanks and such turn into enormous robots. It's this attention to detail - along with the seamless integration with both the actors and the environments - that makes the effects so ground-breaking.

There's also a real sense of fun that's threaded throughout the movie - from the way the Autobots have to hide from Sam's parents, to Sam himself; with Shia LaBeouf injecting him with a fantastically dry sense of humour. Then there's the wise-cracking squad of marines - headed by Josh Duhamel's Captain Lennox; providing the counter-Transformer infantry, and plenty of one-liners that ar almost trademark Michael Bay. The action sequences themselves are also well choreographed, from a shape-shifting dogfight over LA, to a subterranean Decipticon stalking our marines.

If there's one relatively poor thing about the movie, it's that it's clear this is a franchise spawner. It's Michael Bay's second shortest work to date - clocking in at around two hours and ten minutes - which suggests that he was told to 'save something for the sequels', in direct contrast to his 'everything but the kitchen sink' style of film-making. That and the closing speech from Optimus Prime, which all but screams 'there's gonna be a sequel, people!'. So be prepared to walk out a tiny bit unsatisfied!
So! If you're looking for a film that's light on brains and heavy on the entertainment, with kick-ass robots that turn into cars (though that may put you in a niche group...), this is more than certainly your cup'o'tea. Bring on the sequel!

Ross' Rating:

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