In an attempt to showcase a bit of family history, Sam Witwicky presents a biography on his grandfather, the famous explorer Archibald Witwicky. A man who traveled into the depths of the arctic shelf, his discoveries were seen as both revolutionary and bordering on insanity. All that remained were a set of exploration supplies and his grandfather’s eyeglasses. After receiving a passing grade, Sam’s father lives up to his promise to help Sam purchase his first car. Sam is drawn to a yellow striped Camaro that has certainly seen better days. One night, the car appears to be stolen and Sam goes racing after it. In the distance, he sees the car transform into a robot creature, sending a signal into the air. Before he realizes it, he is surrounded by a collection of technological creatures that called themselves Autobots, who are trapped in a war with another group of robots that call themselves Decepticons. Both groups seek a cube named the AllSpark, which provides life and power to their species and could tip the scales in their battle.
Starring: Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes), Josh Duhamel (Capt. William Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (Epps), Rachael Taylor (Maggie Maden), Anthony Anderson (Glen Whitmann), Jon Voight (Defense Secretary John Keller), John Turturro (Agent Simmons), Michael O’Neill (Tom Banacheck), Kevin Dunn (Ron Witwicky), Julie White (Judy Witwicky), William Morgan Sheppard (Captain Witwicky), Bernie Mac (Bobby Bolivia), Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Mark Ryan (Bumblebee), Darius McCray (Jazz), Robert Foxworth (Ratchet), Jess Harnell (Ironhide/Barricade), Hugo Weaving (Megatron), Jimmie Wood (Bone Crusher), Reno Wilson (Frenzy), Charles Adler (Starscream)
While the main characters are actually the Transformers, the human cast is led by Shia LaBeouf. This was somewhat of a breakout film, though Disturbia was a much better display of his talents. He highlights his character’s erratic personality and sense of discovery, which is meant to mirror some of his grandfather’s as well. Purely casted to serve as the eye candy, Megan Fox contained a very uneven balance of attractiveness to acting ability, though this may arguably be her best film to date. To provide a more comedic element to the film, there were three actors that were added to the cast. Kevin Dunn and Julie White were the perfect embarrassing parents and had a great rapport in their unfiltered dialogue. John Tuturro, as Agent Simmons, had a more overconfident and cartoonish relationship with LeBeouf and the CGI Transformers. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson both have one-dimensional characters but they fit their roles as soldiers. Also in this film are Anthony Anderson, Rachael Taylor and Jon Voight (as the defense secretary).
In Michael Bay’s first venture into the Transformers franchise, he turns out his classic, explosive charm as he tells the story about the development of the relationship between the humans and Autobots. Sam serves as the messenger and the catalyst to help out the Autobots. Though he knew little about the full story of his grandfather, his collection of items, particularly the eyeglasses, sealed his fate to enter an adventure that would give him the chance to be a hero. Though it is unclear why the Decepticons miss on so many opportunities to take out Sam or many of the soldiers (considering none of whom could ever truly stack up against the metallic beasts), there is an underestimation with the what the humans can achieve when they work as a team. For Sam, his heroism does not come from the ability to outmatch the Decepticons but through the courage to take himself to the limit to protect the Cube.
One of the greatest criticisms about this film is the lack of a solid story and the extreme focus on just developing a graphic masterpiece. Since it is a Michael Bay film, there is a certain expectation that it will be a visual spectacle, but the characters do add their flair to the film. Prior to and immediately after the involvement of the Autobots, Sam’s relationship with his parents creates the illusion that Sam is really just a kid who has stumbled into a world that he can neither truly comprehend or to which he can positively contribute. Though the Autobots seem clumsy at the start and are definitely stereotypical versions of certain personalities and types of people, they are also attempting to exist in secret. The combination of government knowledge and Optimus’s additional storytelling help to begin the story of how the Autobots and Decepticons first arrived on Earth. And to be honest, the explosions and action sequences help to make this film an entertaining summer blockbuster.
Transformers may not be much more than a visual treat, there is a solid storyline, fitting characters and reintroduction of a classic yet modern fictional universe.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5