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Transformers

July 3, 2007  |  12:00am
Transformers

Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and John Rogers
Cinematographer: Mitchell Amundsen
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, and Josh Duhamel
Studio/Running Time: Dreamworks SKG, 144 min.

Transformers is a terrible film. It’s not even bad in a campy, funny way that is enjoyable in the right mindset. It’s bad in a horrible way that makes you wish you’d spent your evening doing something other than ruining your childhood memories. Really, it’s just plain awful. The movie-goers in the sold-out audience I watched the film with seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. They were all very much mistaken.

The story, so far as it exists, is split into two parts. One of them is a bad teen comedy played up for cheap laughs that seems to drag on and on due to its formulaic nature. Will the geeky yet likeable teen guy end up with the troubled yet gorgeous teen girl? Yes, yes he will. There's also a magical sentient car that helps the couple get together. Now you can grab the opening action sequence and then skip out for a 30-minute coffee break without missing anything.

Meanwhile, some sort of vague military plot is going on in the background involving aliens and a cube and an Allspark that’s embedded in the kid from the first plot’s glasses for some unknown reason. All of this leads up to a secret government conspiracy to hide the transformers, much like the secret government conspiracy in Men in Black where this cliché is clearly stolen from.

Luckily, this side of the story also has some amazing action. This means that all the embarrassments, from the film characterizing only through stereotype to the dialogue being delivered solely through soundbytes, don't really matter. You're not paying attention to any of them anyway. You’re watching a mechanical scorpion creature toss a truck at a building before launching rockets at a plane.

This is why people came to see the film in the first place and it should be exciting stuff. It’s not, though, because the movie doesn't give enough screen time to the characters to make you care whether or not a truck sits on them. When these two sub-movies combine they reach a gigantic plot-hole of a conclusion where the transformers fight an epic battle in the middle of a major city for completely nonsensical reasons. That is, except for the obvious one - that they’ve yet to have a battle in an American city.

When I was six years old I would’ve loved this film. Even today it’s sometimes hard not to, since on a shot-by-shot basis this movie's cinematography is as good as anything out there. No one’s as manipulative a director as Michael Bay, and it’s easy to get sucked in by his ever-moving camera and insanely quick cutting. This doesn’t last, though, due to the film's countless glaring flaws. There's the problem of tone, where Transformers bounces between serious military drama and hackneyed cartoon. Then there's the issue of forgetting seemingly major characters without any explanation. How about the ending which contradicts half of the plot? These or one of the film's numerous other major problems bring the whole experience tumbling down. Come to think of it, I was pretty stupid when I was six years old. So is this film.

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