By Vic Holtreman
Short version: A schizophrenic and mind numbing movie. Who knew that so much action could be so boring?
I'm not going to spend too much time writing this review because I'm quite sure that it's irrelevant. Based on the reaction of the audience at the screening I attended, most folks will not agree with this review, will go watch Transformers and leave the theater in a state of bliss.
Me? I just don't get it.
Over the weekend I actually started to get excited about this movie based on the early reviews that had been coming out. I just checked Rottentomatoes.com and although in the overall category it's just barely slipped into "Rotten" territory, the "Cream of the Crop" reviewer consensus is still well into "Ripe" (meaning good). Over at IMDB.com the user rating stands at 8.3 out of 10 at the time of this writing.
I can only conclude that all these people are on crack.
First off, let me say that for anyone who goes to see this film and is NOT on crack, the ONLY reason to see it is Shia LaBeouf, who plays Sam (this last name shall be eternally mispronounced and is a running joke) Witwicky, the teenage kid who ends up in possession of the Transformer named Bumblebee, who morphs into at first a classic but beat up old Camaro and then the latest (and admittedly incredibly cool looking) new model. The kid is a natural and his delivery on screen was worthy of an old-time, seasoned comedian. He had me laughing out loud during the first 2/3 of the movie or so and his lines were very well written as well.
For me, that was it. Seriously.
About 2 minutes in, you know you're watching a Michael Bay movie. There's just something about the way he shoots large scale scenes that gives him away - and then there's the music... is it me or does he use pretty much the same music in every bloody movie he's ever made?
On the plus side, what at first seemed refreshing was the comedic relief with Shia, his dad and even Bernie Mac. Although I've never been a big fan of Mac, I thought he fit really well in his brief appearance. On the other hand for much of the film I felt like I was watching two (and sometimes three) different movies that had been spliced together. It made me feel schizophrenic because these segments were all completely different in tone. We had the Shia comedy, the high-government serioius (and mostly, ridiculous) portion, and then the tough-military-action-hero movie. These were inter-cut in such a way that was, for lack of a better word: jarring.
Oh sure, the Transformers looked cool, if you could ever get a clear look at them. Bay is one of the major contributors to ADD in the youth of the modern world. There was so much movement on the screen during the battle sequences, and the Transformers had so many moving parts that honesly, most of the time I couldn't tell WHAT the hell was going on, and basically I just checked out.
Let me disclose that I'm not and never have been a Transformers fan. It's not that I have any animosity towards the franchise - I just never paid it any attention. Apparently however, there were many fans in the audience, and by their reaction they were plenty happy. I have honestly never been so confused by an audience during a film. There were all kinds of whoops and hollers during certain scenes, and I understood that the movie was TRYING to elicit that reaction at those points, but for me every single one of them fell flat.
Every. Single. One.
Never did I think that a movie with so much action could be so incredibly boring. In my review of Ratatouille I mentioned that I was full of anticipation as to what would happen next and how the movie might end. With Transformers I quite literally just did not care. I actually debating just leaving part way through because I was so bored and numb from all the pointless action, but I figured I needed to watch the entire thing if I was going to review it.
Oh sure, there's eye candy with Megan Fox as the high school "hot chick" that LeBeouf is hankering for and there's Rachael Taylor as an utterly unbelievable computer expert. But outside of Shia's humor, the stuff with his parents was, in a word: stupid. Oh, BTW, if you bring your 7 or 8 year old to this, be prepared to explain to them what the word "masturbation" means after the film. Wow, masturbation jokes in a movie about giant robots. They could have just downgraded this to a PG and inserted a few fart jokes maybe, because, ya know... THAT would have been funny.
Oh, and never have I seen so much mass destruction in a film with so few casualties or injuries. Yay for PG-13!
I'll tell you this, it's extremely likely you won't be seeing a review of the inevitable Transformers 2 by me on this site.
The only reason I rated this even 2 1/2 stars is due to Shia LeBeouf's performance. I look forward to seeing him in future films.
So... I'm ready. Flame away.