When it was first announced that a live-action Transformers movie was going to be made, I was honestly pretty scared. I mean, I know there was going to be a lot of CGI involved by the thought that someone was going to be brave enough to make a movie on giant robots was a brave feat. Now yes, there have been movies before that featured giant robots but Transformers is different due to the fact that they transform, so there is more work to be done with them. Still, the fan in me was eager to watch it and so I had no problem shelling out the money to go see today’s movie, Transformers.
The plot: Millions of years ago, the All-Spark, a cube shaped mystical artifact, brought life to the planet Cybertron but eventually, a war broke out over the All-Spark’s power and it was sent into space, where it ended up lost until a signal directs the inhabitants of Cybertron to the planet Earth. In the present day, an unidentified helicopter approaches a U.S. military base in Qatar and after landing, quickly transforms into the Decepticon Blackout and begins attacking the base. When it reaches the command center and grabs one of the computer mainframes, base commander Colonel Sharp realizes it is downloading secret government files through the internet and physically cuts the hardline. Blackout continues to attack the base, killing everyone there but when Sergeant Epps manages to get video of the attack, Blackout ejects Scorponok from his back to pursue Epps and the rest of Captain Lennox’s Ranger team as they escape into the desert. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is doing a report on his great-great-grandfather Captain Archibald Witwicky, who had explored the Arctic Circle but gone blind and insane, babbling about a giant ice man and drawing strange symbols afterwards. When his teacher gives him a B- for his report, Sam convinces him to change it to an A-, as his father, Ron, told him he would get him a car provided he earned 3 A’s and $2000. With the grade changed, Sam shows Ron and they head off to a used car lot, which Sam is not happy about, but his attention is drawn to a faded old Camero and, after a some strange incidents, the dealer agrees to sell the car to Sam and Ron. In Washington DC, Secretary of Defense John Keller attends a meeting of the top minds in sound analysis and explains what happened in Qatar and tells them that they are there to try and determine the origin of the sound, which is what had hacked into the military network. Meanwhile, Sam heads out with his friend to a lake party in the hopes of impressing his crush, Mikaela Barnes, but her boyfriend proceeds to mock and humiliate them. When Mikaela ends up getting in a fight with her boyfriend Trent, Sam offers to give her a ride home and she accepts, and the two end up talking as he takes her home. That night, Frenzy, another Decepticon who has managed to sneak onto Air Force One by disguising himself as a radio, begins hacking into the mainframe aboard the plane. In DC, Maggie Madsen and her team detect the hack and alert the senior analysts to what is going on. The analyst agrees with Maggie’s recommendation to shut down the defense network, interrupting the hack. Frenzy kills some secret service agents that investigate the hack then transforms back into a radio to hide. When the plane lands, Frenzy sneaks off the plane and heads towards a police car, which is actually a Decepticon named Barricade, and tells him he found a clue to the All-Spark’s location and they have to find Sam. Meanwhile, Sam’s Camaro suddenly leaves his house and Sam chases after it only to witness it transforming into a giant robot. Sam tries to tell the police but they suspect he is on drugs and book him for trespassing. Back in Qatar, Lennox and his team are heading towards a friendly village where a kid that was on the base lives when they are attacked by Scorponok. Reaching the village, Lennox and Epps make contact with the Pentagon and call for reinforcements as the try to fend off the Decepticon, which is eventually damaged by sabot rounds and disappears into the sand. Back in DC, Maggie copies the data stream and heads to the home of Glen Whitmann, a hacker friend of hers. She has him try to analyze the file and they discover references to Sector Seven, Project Iceman, and Captain Witwicky but are arrested by the FBI before they can learn anything else. Back at his home, Sam sees the Camaro return to his house and tries running away on a bicycle but the Camaro chases after him. When Sam crashes, Mikaela sees him and asks if he is ok and Sam says no before picking the bike back up and making a run for it. He eventually avoids the Camaro and, seeing a police car approaching, heads towards it but the police car rams into him, then transforms and begins questioning him about the glasses he is selling on eBay. Sam attempts to run and slams into Mikaela, who had chased after him, and she yells at him at first until she sees Barricade approaching. Suddenly, the Camaro appears and slams into Barricade, then pulls up next to them and opens it’s door and Sam tells Mikaela to get into the car. Once they are both in, the Camaro drives off with Barricade pursuing them and after a brief chase, the Camaro pulls into a train yard and lets them out, then transforms into Bumblebee and begins fighting Barricade. As he is fighting, Barricade sends out Frenzy to attack Sam and Mikaela but Mikaela uses a reciprocating saw to cut his head off and Sam kicks it away. Bumblebee is shown to have won his battle and, communicating through radio, indicates he wants them to get in and go with him. They get in the car but as they drive off, Mikaela wonders why Bumblebee changes into a rusted out car and Bumblebee, his feelings hurt, kicks them out, then scans a newer model Camaro to change into and picks them back up. He takes them to a memorial, where they see 4 meteorites falling to Earth. The meteorites are actually pods containing Autobot protoforms, which quickly scan vehicles and meet up with Bumblebee, Sam, and Mikaela. Transforming into robot forms, their leader Optimus Prime introduces himself and his companions Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet and explains about how Archibald found Megatron in the Arctic but also learned the location of the All-Spark, which was etched onto his glasses. The Autobots take Sam and Mikaela back to Sam’s house so he can find the glasses but are hindered by the Sam’s parents. Suddenly, Sector Seven, led by Agent Simmons, shows up at the house and after determining that they have had contact with aliens, has Sam and Mikaela arrested. As they are driving away, Simmons questions Sam and Mikaela, taunting Mikaela with the news about her father’s parole. Optimus Prime appears and rescues Sam and Mikaela but more Sector Seven forces arrive and Bumblebee, Sam, and Mikaela are captured. After they leave, Jazz asks if they should go after them but Optimus says that there is no way to rescue Bumblebee without hurting the humans and picks up the glasses that had fallen out of Sam’s bag. Back in DC, the head of Sector Seven, Tom Banacheck, meets with Keller as all of their military communications go down and shows him a video of a mars rover that had taken recorded a Transformer on the planet’s surface. Keller has Maggie and Glen released into his care as his advisers and they head to Sector Seven’s headquarters at Hoover Dam, along with Sam, Mikaela, and Lennox and his team. When they get there, they are shown the frozen body of Megatron and Simmons reveals that the modern technology all came from studying and reverse engineering him. Sam reveals what he knows about Megatron and the All-Spark and realizes that they have the All-Spark there. As Simmons and Banacheck show the group the All-Spark, Frenzy, whose head had disguised itself as Mikaela’s phone, is reconstructed by the All-Spark and contacts the other Decepticons and Starscream orders them to head to the dam. As Starscream attacks the outside of the dam, Frenzy lowers the temperature in the room holding Megatron. Realizing the danger they are in, Sam tells Simmons to take him to Bumblebee and when Simmons refuses, Lennox grabs him and forces him to take them to Bumblebee. When they get there, Sam convinces Bumblebee that the humans aren’t going to hurt him and that the All-Spark is there. Bumblebee heads to the chamber and shrinks the All-Spark down to a smaller size and then Sam, Mikaela, Lennox and his team head to Mission City so they can get the cube somewhere safe, meeting Optimus and the other Autobots along the way. Back at the dam, Megatron thaws out and begins attacking Sector Seven before breaking out and meeting with Starscream, ordering him to get the cube.Meanwhile, Keller, Simmons, Maggie, and Glen work on contacting the Air Force and as they do so, they are attacked by Frenzy but he is killed when one of his shuriken ends up taking his head apart. As Sam and the others head to Mission City, Barricade and Bonecrusher chase after them and Optimus transforms to take on Bonecrusher, eventually killing him. In the city, Starscream attacks the group and Bumblebee is injured, while Devastator, attacks the soldiers. Mikaela hotwires a tow truck to help get Bumblebee out of there and Lennox tells Sam to get the cube to the roof of a nearby building so he can be evacuated out of there. Ironhide and Ratchet work to cover Sam as Megatron shows up, ripping Jazz in half. Optimus begins fighting with Megatron as the other Decepticons continue fighting with the Autobots and Lennox’s team. Megatron chases after Sam and as Sam attempts to escape in a Blackhawk, Starscream shoots it down. Mikaela and Bumblebee choose to help out Lennox’s team, helping them to destroy Devastator, then destroy Blackout. Starscream attacks the Air Force jets but is soon chased away. Prime rescues Sam and tells him if he can’t defeat Megatron, Sam should shove the All-Spark into his chest, which would destroy both Optimus and the All-Spark. Megatron is able to defeat Optimus but is then injured by the remaining Air Force jets and as he approaches Sam, Sam shoves the All-Spark into his chest, killing Megatron and destroying the cube. Optimus thanks Sam for saving his life, then mourns the death of Jazz. In DC, Keller announces that Sector Seven has been shut down while the Decepticons’ remains are sent to the Laurentian Abyss, where the hopes are that the crushing pressure and freezing temperatures will prevent anyone from attempting to retrieve them. Sam and Mikaela end up starting a relationship, with Bumblebee choosing to stay as Sam’s protector, while the other Autobots stay on Earth to help defend it. Optimus sends a signal out to space to any other Autobots that wish to come there to live while in Space, Starscream is shown to have flown off to retrieve reinforcements of his own.
Transformers met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 57% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “While believable characters are hard to come by in Transformers, the effects are staggering and the action is exhilarating.” Peter Cullen was asked to reprise his role of Optimus Prime and he eagerly accepted. Frank Welker was also approached to reprise his role of Megatron but he had to turn it down due to other projects but would be a part of later films, voicing Galvatron in Age Of Extinction and reprising Megatron in The Last Knight. The movie was a box office success, earning $709.7 million off of a $150 million budget and would spawn 4 sequels over the years and would become the fastest selling DVD of 2007 when it was released.
This is a pretty much exactly what the critics said, a lot of good special effects and CGI but a little lacking in plot. The acting was ok, with Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (Epps), John Turturro (Simmons), and Jon Voight (Keller) all doing good jobs in their roles, but Antony Anderson (Glen) really stole the show with the scenes he was in. When it came to the two stars, Shia Labeouf’s constant stammering and spastic portrayal of Sam became very annoying really quick while Megan Fox (Mikaela) pretty much came across as someone who was there just to look good but they at least tried to give her some depth and character development. The plot was pretty simplistic, changing the origin that most fans grew up with and adding an all powerful item to the reason for their leaving Cybertron. The movie really did seem to be unfocused in how they wanted to handle the characters; switching from joking around and making it seemingly more kid friendly (keeping with the tone of the original cartoon) to being more serious and darker (Such as seeing Jazz ripped in half or several Decepticon being destroyed). The special effects and CGI really did make this movie and I liked how the humans were able to interact with the Transformers and make it seem like they really were talking to real people. I did like the somewhat modern design for some of the Autobots and Decepticons, as well as Megatron’s refusal to adapt to a “lesser” form and staying in his more alien vehicle mode. There are some good parts to this movie but I really hoped they had done a better job with it.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5