transformers (2007)

An opening sequence about babies farting? Masturbation jokes galore?? A giant robot urinating on an FBI agent??? Could it be?! OMG! It is! It's MICHAEL BAY'S NEW TRANSFORMERS MOVIE ROFL K THX!!!!111. You'd think I was making this up, but hell no, I'm nowhere near that clever. In the face of a small army of now-grown-up 80's kids who will flock to see their robotic sportscar dreams come to vivid life, Michael Bay has decided to take the high road and deliver them a goofy farce about a teenager who wants to nail Megan Fox. What starts off as one of the most gloriously stupid movies of all-time turns into a boring Independence Day wannabe that's more interested in John Voigt's retarded portrayal of some politician than in even letting us know the names of the transforming robots we actually came to see. Bay is so enamored with the fact that the movie actually has a plot that he can't even stand himself and deftly tries to balance it while he lets the real stars of the film, Optimus Prime and Megatron, fall by the wayside in this cluttered up mess. Transformers could have been such quality garbage, and is with the two young stars and their Camaro protector, but as soon as the rest of the cast shows up everything goes south in a hurry.

I'm not really sure what else there is to say. I mean the only memorable image I took away from this thing was of a 30 foot robot peeing on a guy. Needless to say, that's not exactly what I had in mind when I walked into the theater. What I had in mind was a loopy 2 hours of non-stop balls to the wall action scenes with robots. I didn't need any dialogue, I didn't need any plot, I didn't even care if they obeyed the simple rules of physics. This was one film where I was ready to forget everything I know about quality, artistic filmmaking and just watch a bunch of transformers blow eachother up non-stop. That, I think, is a pretty simple request. I never thought I'd leave a Michael Bay movie complaining that it wasn't dumb enough. Bay, look, you're not known for adapting Dostoyevsky, just show me the damn robots. But he even seems to have a hard time with that. The logic of where our good director decides to cut to and not cut to, what to dwell on and what not to, are some incredibly mixed up decisions that I can't, for the life of me, justify. He spends literally ten minutes setting up a conflict between two transformers, the first robot-on-robot fight of the entire movie in fact, and instead of letting us see it, he shows us a smaller robot pulling off Shia Labouf's pants. What the hell? When a couple more awesome fight scenes finally come around, Bay can't seem to help himself as he randomly cuts to small children saying how cool it is and more Shia running around and hiding. Bay, we're the ones who are supposed to be watching in awe remarking at how cool the movie is, I'm really not interested in the characters' opinions on the matter. The film works best at its most juvenile, and that only makes sense when you realize you're dealing with a movie based on toys. The first half has it all where it counts. We get the trite, yet somehow fresh, story of Shia Labouf as a high school kid who's so-so when it comes to the ladies. He buys his first car and, whoa, it turns out to be a transformer. Crazy. But these are the film's best segments. Shia tries everything he can think of to get into Megan Fox's pants, and with the help of the car (that continually plays 80's songs to fit the mood) things start to go his way. Of course, all hell breaks loose when the government and a bunch more robots get into the act. That's when you're thinking things will get going, but it's actually when things go down the tubes and the film's simple magic goes with it. With the guy, the girl and the possessed car, this thing had an odd formula going that was working on its pure lunacy, idiocy and best of all, stupidity. It was so freaking stupid, but it was awesomely stupid, it was gloriously stupid, I had never had so much fun with something so dumb. This was to be the first film I would certify but give a cruddy rating to, that's the type of film it was. I couldn't say I supported its principles, but I was having a blast. The second half of the film, however, took everything that was working and forgot about it completely. 

Instead of keeping with a good thing, Bay introduces all manner of government officials, FBI agents, computer hackers, American soldiers and robots into the mix, one after another to the point where you couldn't begin to care anymore. The three characters we had come to know make appearances throughout, but feel thrust aside in favor of more John Voigt. Not only that, but they literally copy the entire Area 51 sequence from Independence Day down to the smallest detail. With all the plot Bay decides to inject this thing with (most of which revolves around technicalities of how everything supposedly works and so-and-so-'s master plan) you'd think he could at least give us a set-up for the most important conflict in the entire movie: Optimus Prime vs. Megatron. By the time it came to their "climactic" battle, I wasn't even sure if they had met eachother before. (oh wait, I forgot, Bay remembered to set that up in yet another section of overly-expository dialogue). Sorry, I'd like to see and experience a little tension before the fight, without it, the fight scenes are meaningless because there are no stakes at all. Treating this as an alien-invasion flick wasn't the best choice either, though it's not like anyone actually expected them to think up something that wasn't overdone. Another big complaint about the flat climax was that it felt like the entire thing was holding back. "we can't show too much or we won't have anything cool left for the 5 sequels we have planned", it seemed to be saying. I have a feeling I'm not far off. So do I have good things to say about the flick? Sure. Shia, Megan and the CGI do not disappoint. Megan Fox is looking like the hottest thing since sliced bread in the picture, and any of her scenes are worth wathcing several times. But when the two young stars aren't onscreen it's insanely boring. The CGI looked very convincing, but it was Bay's direction of the fight scenes that got in the way. I could tell that cool things were happening, but I could never quite get a good look at it, it was like he was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I had the same complaint about the zombie attacks in the manic Rodriguez flick Planet Terror earlier this year, and it was the same thing all over again. The camera would randomly be here or there and the subjects would be doing something great just outside of frame, it was damned frusterating. The film has a nice look, I''m not sure who directed the photogography, but my hat's off. I could feel the sweltering heat in those early scenes and I got a real taste of the dust from the city blocks they were tearing up in the final fight. The humor is a nice Bay-infused aspect to the film, but I could have used more in some places, less in others, etc. In any case, a sequel is coming, there's no doubt about it. So, as long as this time around they focus more on the transformers themselves, and keep the human cast down to Shia and Megan, we might actually have a cool summer flick on our hands. Go ahead and keep the humor, ratchet it up a few notches for all I care, the dumber these flicks get the more guilty pleasure points they'll score. I'd love to see more films from this series because this one was a major disappointment. Hey, maybe that's the key, you've finally figured it out Hollywood, the worse you make the films, the more we'll come back for more sequels with the hopes they've improved. You're crafty devils.

So, yeah, don't see it. It's crappy. A robot pees on a guy. That's it. The rest of the movie you can't tell what the hell is happening. The only clear shot that Bay gives us is of a Camaro changing into a robot and taking a piss all over John Turturo. There you have it. Welcome everyone, welcome to Transformers. I don't know why people are liking this thing, or why it's making loads of cash. Nevermind, I do know, it's just because everyone wants to see robots. I mean that's why I went, obviously. So yeah, scratch everything I've said. See it. See robots. See them pee. The end. Enjoy your evening. I'm out of here. 

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