Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes
Jon Voight as Defense Secretary John Keller
John Turturro as Agent Simmons
Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime (voice)
Hugo Weaving as Megatron (voice)
Tyrese Gibson as Sergeant Epps
Josh Duhamel as Sergeant Lennox
Rachael Taylor as Maggie Madsen
Anthony Anderson as Glen Whitman
Directed by Michael Bay
The war between giant alien robots continues on Earth with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance. The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, must race to find a powerful cube called the “Allspark” that gives all machines the gift of life before Megatron and his evil clan of Decepticons find it first.
Perhaps you have heard of this “Transformers” phenomenon? It would be hard to miss it, especially if you grew up in the 1980s. A Japanese toy company was able to capture the heart and imagination of every little boy and some girls with the toy line. A “Transformer” is a machine that is able to “transform” or reconfigure itself into a common form, such as an automobile or aircraft. Attach the tag lines “More Than Meets the Eye” and “Robots in Disguise” and what you have is a multi-million dollar franchise that has spawned a cartoon series and cartoon movie. The “Transformers” popularity died down in the early ’90s. However, DreamWorks is set to rekindle this “Transformers” love by creating a world where giant robots reign supreme once again.
Understandably, director Michael Bay was extremely reluctant to take on the “Transformers” project with its rabid fan base despite DreamWorks producer Steven Spielberg’s insistence. Most fan boys have overreacted to this decision by verbally criticizing Bay for such things as putting flames on Optimus Prime or changing fan favorite Bumblebee from a Volkswagen bug to a Chevy Camaro. “Transformers” is Spielberg’s apology to Bay for sticking him with box office flop “The Island” while taking “War of the Worlds” for himself. However, it is important to note that Steven Spielberg did have his hand in the pot. As a result, the perfect blend of humor, action and geekdom is created.
Shia LeBeouf stars as Sam Witwicky, the grandson of a famous 19th century explorer who tried to reach the Arctic Circle, but later went crazy after he claimed to have found a giant man frozen in the ice. Sam is able to exploit his grandfather’s exploration by selling valuable family heirlooms on eBay in order to purchase his first car. After a hilarious scene with comic great Bernie Mac as a politically incorrect used car salesman, Sam is able to ride away in a beat up yellow Chevy Camaro that unbeknownst to him is an alien robot known as an “Autobot.” With his new ride, Sam attempts to show off to Megan Fox. No special effects are needed to show off Fox’s amazing looks as she joins up with Sam only to be caught in the path of destruction.
Summer blockbusters would not be complete without star power. Hugo Weaving lends his voice as Megatron, the leader of the evil Decepticons. Fans of his may be disappointed as Weaving’s unique voice is unrecognizable as it has been altered to sound mechanical. The Decepticons begin their search for the cube by attacking a United States military base located in the Middle East. Then the Decepticons are able to discover that an eBay seller holds a valuable piece of information to their quest of obtaining total power. Also in the entertaining and pretty to look at cast are Jon Voight and John Turturro. Voight plays Secretary of Defense John Keller who unfortunately is rather boring. While it was somewhat entertaining to see Voight whip out a shotgun and unload, the character felt extremely cliché and unnecessary. Turturro is more than able to make up for the lacking quality of government officials by playing the over the top, Area 51 like, Agent Simmons. This is Turturro’s most entertaining performance since playing “The Jesus” in the “Big Lebowski.”
“You have to give credit where credit is due” is a term that rarely applies to a Michael Bay production. When the Internet fan boy hears that Michael Bay is set to direct a franchise loved by many, the immediate response is negative. This is not to say that this thought process is incorrect. Michael Bay’s past films have been met with very little enthusiasm by fans and critics. Bay includes a fun little scene where he makes light of his past film “Armageddon.” The Michael Bay style is all about over the top action and over the top visuals that always seem to overshadow the story that is trying to be told. However, with “Transformers”, he is able to create his most entertaining production to date. While the story is extremely simplistic, Bay is able to do it right by incorporating the most visually stunning scenes of destruction that I have seen on film in a long time.
The pay-off to “Transformers” lies in the second half of the film. Composer Steve Jablonsky’s beautiful score sets the tone by creating a wonderful theme as our heroes crash land on Earth. From here on out, the war between Autobots and Decepticons begins. Bay and his team create fight sequences that are completely incredible. With the sound turned up to the max, explosions and machines immerse you in the battlefield of Los Angeles. It is without question that the visuals of “Transformers” have set the bar. No film this summer will be able to compete with the stunning effects and transformations created by special effect powerhouse ILM. At the same time, Bay and his crew are able to make all of the Autobots and Decepticons cool with pimped out cars, planes and gadgets. When all is said and done, you will want a “Bumblebee” to have as your very own. Optimus Prime is an incredible visual to witness, despite the character having several physical differences to the cartoon. Peter Cullen, the voice of the cartoon version of Optimus Prime, lends his voice talents again to the character and is able to create the iconic hero I grew up loving.
While some Hollywood liberties are taken with the original story, the spirit of the original cartoon remains. Michael Bay’s “Transformers” is officially the first summer blockbuster that delivers what is promised. “Transformers” is a fast paced action film that incorporates amazing visual effects and ’80s nostalgia to make for a simplistic yet entertaining story. Fans of the cartoon and the Hasbro toys will not be let down. It should be noted that this film is not for everyone. Older audiences and most females may struggle to find a purpose to the film or its length. However, if you can believe that giant robots can come to earth and take the form of cars and other complex machinery, it is quite easy to sit back and enjoy the entertaining ride Michael Bay and company has created for you.