Transformers (2007)

The further away I get from having seen Transformers, the less I like it. While the pretty pictures were flashing in front of my eyes, I was kind of having fun. I got fidgety and bored during the last hour or so (knowing that nothing was really going to kick off until Megatron joined the party made the first half painfully slow - yes, we've all seen Herbie, thanks!) but those robots, well, they looked pretty damned cool.

On the journey home from the cinema, I started to spot a few plot holes. I realised that, most of the time, I could barely tell any of the Transformers apart: Optimus Prime's the red and blue one, Megatron's the black one, and Bumblebee's the yellow one... only, there's another yellow one, and loads more who don't really do much, and it was all very confusing, wasn't it? Over the next few days, I just started to get irritated by how little of the film makes sense, or serves any purpose.

Maybe the fact that I don't feel at all nostalgic about Transformers ruined my appreciation of the film, or something; maybe there's some back story it assumed I already knew? Then again, this is a high budget, high profile summer blockbuster we're talking about here. Popcorn movie it may be, but that doesn't mean it isn't required to make at least a little bit of sense.

So far as I can make out, the plot revolves around a kid named Sam Witwicky (people will repeatedly mispronounce Witwicky throughout the movie, for no discernible reason) and his famous ancestor, who was an Arctic explorer. Mr Witwicky Snr who made an incredible discovery in the shape of a whacking great Decepticon hidden under the ice; borrowing from a popular conspiracy theory, this robot is the basis for all modern technology. Unfortunately for humanity, it turns out that that robot was on Earth for a reason: to try to track down a cube-like thingummyjig called the Allspark, which contains enough energy to rebuild worlds.

Sam becomes the hero mostly by virtue of his forefather. He's a socially inept teenager, with, predictably, a crush on the hottest girl in school, and a rusty old banger of a first car which turns out to be an Autobot. Oh, and there's something about the Arctic explorer's broken old glasses, too.

Meanwhile, in Qatar, a group of American soldiers is being attacked by an enormous robot. And someone's hacked into the Pentagon's most secure and confidential files. And a group of bumbling secret agents have turned up, mostly just to get pissed on by a Transformer. And a load of kids have been drafted in to find out how the hackers got in, and what they were looking for. It all sort of ties together, culminating in one massive battle between Megatron and Optimus Prime in which Prime tries to sacrifice himself for the sake of destroying the Allspark, despite the fact that the Autobots want to use it to rebuild their world, so that Megatron can't use it to create an army. Only Sam uses the Allspark to kill Megatron instead, which makes much more sense.

The fight scenes, and I can't stress this enough, are mind-blowing. The very definition of eye candy. Say what you like about Michael Bay, but he knows how to film big giant fighting robots. The CGI is flawless; it really is impossible to see the join between the computer generated image and the real world. Transformers looks great - it's just a pity the script was so crap. The characters are two-dimensional - little more than just people walking around saying words; the relationships are under-developed; and the plot is more full of holes than Swiss cheese. I could sit here and point them out to you, but I'd be here for weeks. The biggest problem is probably the weird tonal shifts: one minute it's an action movie, the next it's a piss-poor teen sex comedy. The jokes are too silly, and the threat from the giant killer alien robots undermined as a result.

There's also the small issue of the runtime. 144 minutes? Seriously? If all the unimportant plot threads were dropped, it'd be a much more manageable movie. As it is, it's just kind of sloppy - an over-long, overly laboured toy advert that no kid will be able to sit through to the end.

IMDB link

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