Select your language

My Transformers Movie Review

One thing I want to get out of the way: This will not be a summary of the Movie. I have no doubt you can find those in countless places on the net by now, so I would just be repeating what others have already written. Nevertheless my little review here does contain a number of spoilers, so you should only read it if you've already seen the movie or don't mind being spoiled.

To start with my general impression: Pretty good. Sure, a few things could have been better, but overall I'm very satisfied with the Movie and Michael Bay and company get a good rating from me.

Now on to the details:

The Story

Okay, it's not War and Peace. But compared to many movies done in the last few years, especially in the special-effects-heavy Science Fiction sector, Transformers does have a pretty well-developed plot. The evil aliens don't simply come here to do away with humans, no. They have a specific goal in mind which they try to achieve with all their might, everything else doesn't matter. And the good aliens, even though they have gotten a healthy if somewhat misplaced dose of admiration for humanity, also have their own goals. All participants have their own motivations for the things they do and more or less act rationally.

Of course this wouldn't be a proper review without mentioning a few complaints. Why, for example, are the soldiers and Autobots, on the run from the Decepticons, bring the Allspark Cube into a densely populated city? Are they actively trying to maximize civilian casualties? And why is Sector 7 so eager to experiment on Bumblebee, seeing as they've had Megatron to experiment on for over 80 years? Why are all the machines given life by the Allspark evil from the get-go and try to kill people? Most of these are minor things, though, which can be tolerated without too many problems.

Megatron's rather anti-climatic defeat at the end, simply by having the Allspark stuffed into his chest, is a bit of a let-down, but then again it's the kind of ending which makes you long for part 2. Is he really dead? When Optimus considers absorbing the Allspark himself he hints that he might be able to survive. So if Megatron really did survive, what has the fusion with the Allspark done to him?

Another hanging plot thread for part 2 is Optimus' salvaging a splinter of the Cube from Megatron's remains, as well as his message to the surviving Autobots to come to Earth. Followed by the Decepticons? We shall see. One thing is for certain, there must be a part 2.

The Special Effects

I have absolutely no complaints on this front. The robots are very well done, the movements are fluid, the transformation sequences look great. The Transformers are moving like living beings, not machines, which in my opinion was one of the major prerequisites for accepting them as characters.

The only thing I found slightly annoying was that, at times, there was so much robot action filling the screen that the viewer had trouble keeping up. No problem, though, that's what the DVD is for, where you can watch those scenes in slow motion.

The Characters - Humans

Apart from about a dozen Transformers we also have quite a few human characters playing a role in the movie. Most of them are pretty two-dimensional. The heroic soldiers, the uber-smart computer geeks, the shady government agents, the moronic high school jocks. We do get a few three-dimensional characters, though, first and foremost Sam Witwicky.

Even though I don't like the actor, I have to admit that he did a superb job in the movie. Sam starts out as a believable American teenager, ruled by his hormones, but over the course of the movie he becomes a true friend to the Autobots. Even the fact that he's the one to destroy Megatron in the end doesn't seem forced. His friendship with Bumblebee rings true, especially when he tries to protect him from the Sector 7 people, and you find yourself cheering him on. Sam might just be the best human friend of the Transformers ever across all the various series' and toy lines.

Megan Fox provides some sex appeal to the movie, even though I personally find her a bit too skinny and a bit too old (for the part of a High School student that is). I have no idea how old she really is, but in the Movie she looks about ten years older than Sam. Her background as a juvenile criminal seems a bit forced, but especially during the end battle she comes across forceful and not at all like the usual damsel in distress.

Jon Voight makes the best of his part as secretary of defence. His part isn't written with much depth, but an actor of his caliber still manages to wrest something from the role and he gets some action, too, during the final battle against Frenzy.

A few characters, like the blonde NSA analyst and the fat black hacker are more or less superfluous in my opinion, but don't take anything away from the movie, either. So all in all the cast of human characters is decent and does a good job.

The Characters - Transformers

Even though the human characters are predictably in the foreground, the actual main characters, the robots, aren't sold short. At least as far as the Autobots go. The Decepticons are mostly portrayed as gun fodder and don't get to say a lot of lines, either. Which is a bit sad, but doesn't hurt the movie much, either. Seeing as no iconic Decepticon names apart from Megatron and Starscream are involved, the deaths of these Decepticons doesn't hurt the fan too much.

Megatron spends the largest part of the movie frozen in ice and only gets to strut his stuff during the end battle. He comes across as an unstoppable war machine and it seems doubtful he can be stopped right to the point where Sam kills him with the Allspark. All in all I would have wished for some more screen time for Megatron, but his part turned out as good as it could be considering the shortness of it.

Starscream, for his part, barely gets the chance to shine. The short air battle against the Air Force squadron in the end is his only good moment. Seeing as he gets away in the end, though, and we see him leave towards space, one can hope that he'll return for more screen time in part 2. Other survivors among the Decepticons should be Scorponok (who just lost his tail in the desert) and possibly Barricade, whom we didn't see during the end battle.

Now for the Autobots. Ironhide, Jazz and Ratchet are introduced, but are mostly there for the fight scene and don't get a lot of character development. Accordingly Jazz' death doesn't hit all that hard. Optimus Prime does his usual part as the compassionate leader, who can get his hands dirty as well (and finishes off Bonecrusher in record time).

The real star among the Autobots is Bumblebee, though, no doubt about it. Be it as car or as robot, he has a lot of charme and humour and stands in the spotlight. His way of communicating with one-liners and songs from the radio is done exceptionally well, especially seeing as they used mostly classic songs (Sexual Healing, Take me home tonight, etc.) instead of whatever crap currently resides in the 'Won't-be-remembered-a-year-from-now' charts. Why he is suddenly able to talk again at the end remains a mystery, but isn't really that important, either. Bumblebee is the star of the movie.

Insider Gags

  • You can see a yellow Volkswagen Beetle at the used cars lot where Sam buys Bumblebee, which was BB's original form in the G1 cartoon series.
  • Optimus Primes' words when he faces Megatron are taken almost word-for-word from the 1986 animated movie, where he and Megatron battle to the death.
  • Optimus Prime's motto "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings" is a direct quote from the original Prime figure's tech spec.
  • When Blackout transforms the first time you can hear the classic G1 transformation sound.
  • When the NSA analysts are first shown the recording of the strange sound signal, you can see the word "Takara" displayed in the lower right corner, the name of the company that produces Transformers in Japan.
  • During the final battle the Autobots use a truck with a Furby commercial on the side as a shield against missiles. The Furbies are also produced by Hasbro.
  • When one of the Autobots emerges from the pool, he is watched by a little girl, who clutches a My Little Pony toy. Those are also from Hasbro.

The final judgement:

In my opinion the producers managed a nearly perfect mixture of a movie made for old-school Transformers fans and a movie made for the broader mainstream audience. Sure, a few things could have been done better, the plot could have been a bit thicker here and there, but overall I'm very satisfied and looking forward to part 2.


No comments