Transformers is “more than meets the eye.” No, it’s not some cheesy 1980s cartoon series inspired by the Hasbro toy line. No, it’s not a nerdy, childish, sci-fi obsession of a robot-fixated generation. Surprisingly, it’s the very definition of a successful, modern, summer action motion picture.
Transformers possesses all the goods to please multiple demographics — including the young, the old, and the non-biological extraterrestrials. With a solid story, impressive action, seamless CGI effects, and lowbrow humor, Transformers is a loud, metal-clashing funfest for your average moviegoer and a lubricating dream for Transformers fans.
When high school student Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) goes to buy his first car, he is immediately drawn to a 1977 yellow Chevrolet Camaro with racing stripes. What’s more shocking is the car is also drawn to Sam. Once the purchase is made, the car communicates via radio and assists Sam in getting to know his crush, Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox).
Sam soon realizes that his car is really an Autobot named Bumblebee, sent from the planet Cybertron to protect him. With this discovery, Sam enters the world of transforming alien robots. Optimus Prime (Richard Cullen), a Peterbilt truck, leads additional Autobots and assists Sam and Mikaela in locating the Allspark, a powerful cube that is the key to human survival. But, where there is good, there is also evil.
Megatron (Hugo Weaving), leader of the Decepticons, remains cryogenically frozen underground. But his fellow Decepticons (including Barricade, a police interceptor and Starscream, an F-22 jet) intend to revive him and take over the world. As the Autobots and Decepticons collide in an all-out brawl for control of the Allspark, it is Sam who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Notorious for earsplitting, larger-than-life, explosive motion pictures, director Michael Bay fortunately remains in his pigeon-hole with Transformers. “This is easily one-hundred times cooler than Armageddon,” shouts one of the film’s extras when the Autobots rain onto the Earth like meteors. Much like with Armageddon, Bay succeeds in treating audiences to a dynamic storyline with heart-pumping action.
Transformers' only weak spot is its wit. At times, it’s on-point — mixing modern references with the ‘80s inspiration; in other instances, it’s exceedingly goofy. For instance, when Captain Lennox attempts to reach the Pentagon, he must provide a credit card number to an Indian call center representative who tries to sell him on upgrading to a premium package. So unnecessary.
In addition, Transformers is chock full of over-the-top unwarranted quotes. Case in point: “Grandma, drink your prune juice.” “Are you the tooth fairy?” “My bad.” “Were you masturbating?” and “Bumblebee, stop lubricating the man!” If each of these lines were eliminated from the script, the film would have been better off. What’s more, Bumblebee’s air-freshener – hanging from the rear-view mirror – reads “Bee Otch.”
More than giant battling robots with a few wisecracks thrown in, Transformers is about a relationship between a boy and a girl, and more importantly between a boy and his first car. After all, “cars pick their drivers.” While Transformers may be a single-handed attempt to increase the value of yellow Camaros, it’s also a feature designed to up the ante for live-action/CGI-animated summer blockbusters.
Let it come as no surprise why Transformers is nominated for three Academy Awards — Sound, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects. The film is like a killer ‘80s rock song that you can bang your head and play air guitar/drums to. On the whole, Transformers reverts you back to an ‘80s childhood-like state, and it’s this transformative recollection of being a kid that leaves you with a genuine smile on your face.