Reviewed By: Aaron Yam
Explosions after explosions after explosions. Michael Bay has done it again with his film Transformers. This is a film I can proudly say, “it is worth your money.”
When an alien robot race decides to invade Earth, what can a dorky man named Sam Witwicky (Shia Labeouf) do? Apparently he can save the world with his 1994 Camaro. How a dorky college student ends up saving the world is actually how the story pans out. The story of the film starts off with the protagonist Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) narrating about the background of the war between the alien races: Autobots and Deceptigons. A war that dates back to more than a millennium. Both races are engaged in an all out war in hopes of exterminating each other and gaining the all powerful artifact called the All-Spark. When the Autobots become outnumbered, in hopes of surviving, they fled to the galaxy with the All-Spark. Trouble begins when this all powerful artifact is sent flying into space from their home planet Cybertron to the planet of humans: Earth. Where ever this artifact goes, the rest of the robots follow. When robots come to Earth, they must disguise themselves so that they are not recognized by both the other race and humans. According to the robots, humans are hostile towards them and will capture them for experimentation. Most of these robots hide in the form of a vehicle, but the disguises range from toasters to trucks to even jet planes. When the war actually starts on Earth, Sam’s 1994 Camaro reveals itself to be an Autobot and asks Sam for his help. When all the Autobots gather, they make it clear that Sam plays a pivotal role in turning the tide of this war.
Sam’s character is initially depicted as a shy and confused young man who grows throughout the film. The character development is really apparent as Sam goes from being a confused college student to a confident warrior protecting Earth. It is also really cool that in the midst of all this action and adventure, Bay is able to weave in some romance here and there. One moment the audience will see a bunch of robots charging into a room guns ready to fire and in the next few moments, you have Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), Sam’s girlfriend, hot and steamy all over Sam. Although the romance is present in the film, it feels insignificant to the movie as a whole. There isn’t much connection with the love to the movie. It seems like Megan Fox was casted in this movie because she has a reputation to bring to the movie, hopefully bringing positive views. Her role in the movie is small and almost unrelated to the actual plot which leads me to question whether her being casted into the movie was for pure fan service or if her role was just never meant to be that big. She had as much screen time as the protagonist Sam, but she does not do anything meaningful. Simmons (John Turturro), a hard-headed officer of a secret organization, on the other hand, who has less screen time than Mikaela plays a more significant role in the movie. He is not even a protagonist and he is able to get the audience to love him with his small quirky lines. I am not accusing Megan Fox of being a terrible actor, but I feel as though her role was not necessary in the movie at all. She was just there to stand pretty. Many other characters like Lieutenant William Lennox (Josh Duhamel), Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson), or Glen Whitmann (Anthony Anderson) whom also have brief screen times have a certain like appeal to them like an attitude or persona. Bravo to the writers of the film. Every line delivered by these actors were spot on and either provided comedic moments or added intensity to the film. Credit must also be given to the special effects team because without them, these “Michael Bay explosions” would not have been possible. With their good timing and layered effects, actions like Bonecrusher cutting a van in half seems more life like to the viewers. We have to keep in mind that they are filming the effects without the computer generated models. They really have to eyeball it. When put together, this action packed film really comes to life.
As a kid growing up with Transformers, I loved the Transformers animated series and I always viewed it with high praise. What Michael Bay and his team has done was no easy feat and were certainly going to be judged critically for it. They took an animated series and condensed it into one heavily action packed film for us. At certain points in the movie, for example when Optimus Prime had a scuffle with Bonecrusher, the scene sent chills down everyone’s spine. If I had to make an analogy of this feat, it would be how Disney shifted its animation style from the Disney Renaissance’s usage of traditional animation to its newest form of pure computer animated films. With built up competition from Dreamwork’s Shrek, Disney had to find a way to make a come back and create a resurgence of interest in their movies. Computer animated films was the way to go. Similarly to Michael Bay’s film, a film depending heavily on the usage of computer generated models and special effects for movies did not seem to be a good idea. What Bay ended up doing was pioneering a new era of filming.