When you’ve never actually been a fan of a series, and then you watch an adaptation of it, you don’t have the same bias that fans of the series already have. No, I was never a fan of the Transformers series, so hearing that there was a live-action adaptation of it didn’t really matter to me. I did, however, expect that it would be an entertaining action film, if nothing else.
After watching it, yeah, that’s basically what it ended up being. For once, my expectations were pretty much matched. Everything I hoped to see, I did, and everything that I figured would be a problem, was. There wasn’t anything that surprised me, both in the story or in what is presented during the story.
The plot is fairly simple, as it should be. There is something called the “All Spark” that is on Earth. Years ago, Megatron, the leader of the evil robots named “Decepticons,” came to Earth in an attempt to find it. Megatron doesn’t succeed, and ends up trapped in the Arctic Circle. This all happened over 100 years ago.
Fast-forward to present day, when Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is just a normal kid in high school. He gets his first car, and is finally starting to learn how to talk with girls. His primary fixation is Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), with him ending up driving her home one night. They become closer when Sam’s car gets stolen, and she follows him in Sam’s attempt to get it back.
It turns out that his car wasn’t actually stolen, though; it turned into a robot. It’s okay because Sam’s car is a good robot, being called an “Autobot.” The Autobots want the All Spark as well, and require Sam’s (and by extension, Mikaela’s), help in retrieving it.
And then a lot of grand-scale, visually entertaining action scenes happen. After the basic plot and characters are established, the story basically just steps aside so that robots can do what robots do best, fight other robots in various environments, mostly in cities and other urban landscapes.
Transformers isn’t a bad movie, but it’s one that could easily have done with stronger human characters and some cuts in the runtime.
That is just about all the final third consists of, in fact. We are given the main characters’ reason to participate in this battle, meaning that it actually serves more of a purpose than just eye-candy.
But, the visuals in the film are a sight to behold. I know some people complain about Michael Bay butchering the original designs of the robots, and while this might be true, it isn’t something I had a problem with. It’s his own adaptation of the source material, and if he wants to alter what the robots look like, I think that’s his prerogative.
The robots do look nice, though, with the robots having a great size and impressive scale, especially when compared to our human characters. They are easily seven times larger than the humans—at least; I’m not great at telling size—and you get a good sense of this size when the humans and robots stand near one another.
The humans are the worst part of the film, however, with the story arc between Sam and Mikalea being the film’s major problem. In a film like this, you want to see robots blowing up other robots, not two teenagers having an awkward romantic life. This isn’t helped by the fact that neither of the human leads gives a good acting performance.
This is most obvious in one scene, where Megan Fox had the completely wrong facial expression for one of her lines, and then, at the last moment, realizes this and changes her complete expression. She does this a few times, but it is really noticeable in one scene in particular. Shia Labeouf isn’t much better, but at least seems to know the type of emotion that his character is supposed to be feeling.
I guess I did lie earlier on. There was one thing that surprised me with Transformers. It was funnier than I thought it would be. I figured there would be some small bits of attempted humor thrown in every now and then, but this wasn’t the case. There were many, not some, and it was actually fairly successful at generating laughter.
The only other main problem that the film has is its length. It is just too long to keep attention all the way through. Quite a bit could’ve been cut off the beginning, as the little character development we get at this point doesn’t actually help us learn about the characters, especially because we don’t end up caring much about them anyway. All we really want to see are the robots, and while they do take up a large portion of the second half, the first is dominated by the humans we’d rather ignore.
In my eyes, Transformers isn’t a bad movie, but it’s one that could easily have done with stronger human characters and some cuts in the runtime. The Transformers themselves look nice, and the action scenes do entertain but, unfortunately, there are too many dull parts to make it an excellent film. It’s definitely entertaining, and if you can look past the changes to the robot designs, you’ll likely enjoy yourself while watching it.
Conclusion: Transformers is entertaining enough to work as a decent action movie.
Recommendation: The first Transformers isn’t bad enough to recommend avoiding. You don’t really need to see it, either, though.