If ever a director was so perfectly suited for the material at hand, it is the combination of Michael Bay and Transformers. On one hand, Bay can blow stuff up better than anybody, and what is one element you want in a movie featuring battling robots but big explosions? On the other hand, you have source material coming from a toy line that was turned into a popular cartoon series in the 1980s, and it needs the touch of someone who has more flash than substance, but could bring a bit of substance to it (well, maybe, there were a couple of flashes in The Island).
Anyway, the film has come to fruition, and the final result is a movie that delivers on the whiz bang, keeps true to the slightly goofy story of the cartoon, yet somehow feels a little flat in the end. Still, it does offer up some great explosions and first rate special effects!
Transformers opens with narration from Optimus Prime (voiced by original cartoon actor Peter Cullen) telling of a great war on Cybertron between the evil Decepticons, led by Megatron (Hugo Weaving), and the good Autobots, led by Optimus Prime. The battle left their homeworld a burnt out husk, and the object of their battles is a mysterious cube called the Allspark (aka the MacGuffin). Thousands of years ago it landed in the Arctic, where Megatron followed and got frozen in the ice, unable to retrieve the cube, nor free himself. That is the setup as we dive into the human-centric tale.
The tale of the great robot war takes a background role in favor of the human story, which is ultimately a failing but not a complete disaster. The main story is that of a boy and his car. Shia LeBeouf plays Sam Witwicky, whose family has a connection to the MacGuffin, and thus makes him a target, but before we can get to that we have to deal with the trappings of teen comedy. Sam is a little on the geeky side, he didn't make the football team and pines for the hot girl on the jock's arm. Now, dad buys him a car, which just happens to be the Autobot called Bumblebee. Shortly after acquiring said vehicular transport, it takes off on its own, ultimately revealing its robotic nature. Apparently, he was calling his fellow heroes to come and help out.
Meanwhile, in the secondary human story, we are led by Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as Army Rangers in Qatar. This is where the Decepticons make their move, in spectacular fashion with a large helicopter making an attack on the military base, followed by a scorpion-like robot bursting from the sand intent on taking out our heroes and hacking our computer system. This is visually stunning, but ultimately leads nowhere as it merely yields a signal for a group of unimportant government analysts to chase their tale with. Now, I understand why it was initially necessary for the hack and the information that it yielded, but the rest of the scenes with the analysts just do nothing but drag the picture down.