TRANSFORMERS: MAXIMIZE AND TERRORIZE
“A driver don’t pick the cars… The car picks the driver… It’s a mystical bond between man and machine…” And once it’s stolen, the fate of a young driver is thrust into a war that long existed. “What you’re about to see is totally classified… Dear God, what is this?” And after moments of suspense, mystery and discovery, “We’re under attack! We’re facing war against a technologically civilization far superior to our own… Our enemy can take any shape… They could be anywhere…”
In Michael Bay’s Transformers, his touch for stylized action is apparent but the balance between special effects and that human touch that is never quite right in other films, still doesn’t balance out here. But not in the way you might think.
In God-like tones, the opening narration tells of an eternal battle between good and evil that long ago tore apart the planet Cybertron; its lasting legacy is a cube known as the Allspark, granting unspeakable powers to its possessor. The search for that cube has led to Earth, where the warriors of good known as the Autobots are destined for one final showdown against the evil Decepticons.
With this exposition aside, the rest of the film is an uncovering and emergence of this very backstory to the cast of the film.
They are slowly introduced and blown away by this robotic race on Earth from the deserts of Qatar, where the Decepticons go up against a squad of U.S. Marines; in the underground of the Pentagon, where Secretary of Defense John Keller (John Voight) and brilliant blond computer mind Maggie Madsen (Rachael Taylor) try to figure out which enemy of theirs is attacking… perhaps North Koreans? And in a quiet suburban neighborhood, horny teenager Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has no idea that his new car is really an Autobot named Bumblebee. Damn and all he wanted was to seduce the opposite sex in the form of Mikaela Banes (Rachel Fox). To say all this is to give enough of a skeleton for the story of this film. It involves quite a few perspectives and perhaps a little too many characters.
Now as was said before: the balance between the human cast and adapted toy line was offset here with more of an emphasis on the humans.
This bias is understandable: humans were responsible for the making of this film. In short, transforming action and plot should have happened sooner and the human uncovering of what’s explained in the beginning of the movie takes the entire movie. The cast are quirky and entertaining but they’re hardly enough to overpower the personalities and moves of what people really want to see: Transformers. The film gets a little saturated with uncovering the mystery of what the audience already knows and the entire romance between Witwicky and Banes could have been dealt with in a sharper sense. There hasn’t been a better need for a one-night stand leading into happily ever after. The problem here is throughout the movie, the evil existence of Megatron is always referred to but Megatron himself only comes into actual play in the last quarter of the film (after the humans discover him) to fight in the last battle. Is it his last battle? I won’t say.
Mitchell Amundsen’s cinematography fits nicely for the colorful metallic shells of mechanical beings but is somewhat strenuous for the presence of the human cast.
Perhaps even he was thinking there’d be more robot-action than girl-on-boy action in pre-production planning. Michael Bay does what he does in this film. He has his own formula so why change it? It works for action yarns from the slow-motion to the camera moving past as the characters turn in desperation and awe. Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving do great jobs as voice artists here in the roles of Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively. You never recognize the movie as coming from a line of toys or past animated series that influenced a film adaptation. It stands alone and doesn’t require you to know the former to know the latter. The sound is crisp; the special effects are entertaining and original with the look and feel of the film outstanding. It was nominated for three Academy Awards in relation to these categorie. Could the story have been condensed in some parts and emphasized more in others: definitely. But this shouldn’t deter you from this movie as it’s still an enjoyable ride… or flight depending on your Transformer.
So take a deep breathe after my movie review and move away from the puzzles of a morphing toy or a Rubik’s Cube and Transform your evening into some popcorn excitement on DVD.