Calling all Autobots
OK, I’m calling it now. Transformers is THE summer movie. Yeah yeah yeah, I know it’s not going to change anyone’s life or solve any problems or get you thinking about anything deep. What it will do is make you cheer in your seat for the good guys, root on the hero and be disappointed when you get back to your ordinary non-transforming car.
The simple synopsis… Our hero’s car turns out to be an alien robot from space that can disguise itself as a yellow camaro with black racing stripes. Turns out they’re here to protect humanity from the evil side of their race the Decepticons. Both robot sides are after the All Spark which will return life to their destroyed planet (if you’re good) or create a drone army (if you’re bad). The already-here-all-this-time evil leader awakens and battle ensues.
I was taken aback by one aspect of the movie. It’s funny. Not chuckle funny, but laugh out loud in several parts funny. Their are jokes about teen dating, family life and why-is-this-happening-to-me comments that really made me laugh. The hero Sam Witwicky is played by Shia La Beouf (whose name means according to Shia in combined Hebrew and French “Thank God for beef”). He channels a young John Cusack as a frenetic, nervous, sharp and funny kid. In what could be just a movie about a bunch of giant robots, the Sam character gives us someone to connect with, and eventually someone who’s story we care about. Take note Sam Raimi… this is what you should have done with Peter Parker in Spiderman III. We follow Sam as he learns the true identity of his car and gets the girl. And what a girl! Suffice it to say the moment when she looks under the hood, fully dressed, might be the sexiest scene this summer; and it didn’t require anything untowards!
The other cool thing about the movie was the portrayal of the military. In lots of movies the military comes off as a bunch of cowboys riding in and blowing everything up. In Transformers, the military comes off as a well oiled machine, able to respond with teamwork and smart use of technology (Launching Predator… contact in 40 seconds…. twenty…. visual contact confirmed). There are many cons to being a soldier in today’s futuristic army but boy I sure would have liked to give it a try. Josh Duhamel and crew do a great job portraying the company that first sees the robots (Blackout the helicopter), battle a really cool Scorpion robot, and coordinates the military’s assault on the street.
I suppose this wouldn’t really be a complete review if I didn’t mention the robots. You’re going to have to do a little suspension of disbelief to imagine two stroy robots compacting into cars. I suppose a fanboy geek explanation could be made about the use of lightweight alien materials but that’s really pushing it, isn’t it? (My nerdiness, not the plot point). LIke I said earlier, after watching the movie, I was really disappointed that my car didn’t expand into a robot.
Let’s just say the robots are cool enough, that CGI looks really amazing and it’s fun to see Pasadena and Los Angeles used so much in a movie. Oh and stick around for the last three quick scenes in the credits.
The only people who comes off in a bad light is 1.) the idiot President who asks for Ding Dongs in bed on Air Force 1 while the experts handle the crisis and 2.) the American public as represented by Sam’s parents who say if there was anything going on the President would have told us. It’s the basis of a free country, right?