Directed By: Michael Bay
Distributed By: DreamWorks
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
For any of you out there who grew up in the eighties or who watched the Sci-Fi channel during the nineties, you will most likely recall a popular Japanese import cartoon—bet you didn’t know it was imported from Japan did ya?—called Transformers. The show was about a group of robots that crash landed on a primitive Earth only to be awakened in modern times and redesigned to fit into the world by transforming into vehicles of that time. The bad guys—the Decepticons—were all planes or flying objects of some sort at first, with the exception of its leader Megatron who was a sometimes large, sometimes small, but always powerful gun. The Autobots were always cars at first. And the premise of the show was that the Decepticons wanted to reap the natural resources of the planet Earth to make ‘energon cubes’ that they need to power themselves and their vehicles and to revitalize their ongoing war in their home planet of Cybertron. The Autobots simply wanted to stop them before they drained the Earth dry and—consequently—win the war back home.
Naturally when I heard about the live-action version of the Transformers, I was psyched. I couldn’t wait to see what modern computer graphics and Mr. Michael Bay could do with this concept. I had to admit however that the previews showed to whet the appetite of the audience did not exactly fill me with confidence in the movie’s potential. It made all the robots seem like evil, menacing conquerors and I began to wonder whether Mr. Bay had gotten this one all wrong. I went to see the movie anyway because—hell—it was Transformers and as a fan, I had to do my duty and give it a chance.
In this version of the Transformers, we follow Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, I Robot), an average if not unpopular human teenager looking to get his first car and hawking his family heirlooms on eBay to do so. This—quite serendipitously—leads the Autobot Bumblebee straight to him, disguised as an old car that Sam eventually buys. Humorously, Bumblebee seems not only protective of Sam’s wellbeing but also of his love life as the silent Autobot tries repeatedly to help his human driver get closer to the very popular and very beautiful Mikaela (Megan Fox). Sam’s eBay account also attracts the attention of the Decepticons who believe that an item on that account will lead them to a powerful device.
What do they want? The All-Spark—a mysterious cube that created all of Cybertron and all the living robots that inhabited it. The Autobots want it to revitalize their home world and the Decepticons want to harness its power to destroy worlds. Not entirely dissimilar to the cartoon’s original plot.
Running a parallel to Sam’s story is that of Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel, Las Vegas) and his platoon of soldiers in Iraq. One of the Decepticons infiltrates their base in search of classified information and demolishes the base in the process. They manage to stop the robot but are left stranded in the desert with no form of communication. Presumed dead but with knowledge of the enemy, Captain Lennox must to get back in contact with his superiors and relay what they’ve learned.
Together, Sam and the Captain Lennox, along with the Autobots, take on the challenge of the Decepticons head on. But when fighting an enemy who are ruthless and beyond remorse, the odds are always against the good guys. Can these peace-loving robots and their human counterparts manage to defeat the enemy, avoid the military that think they are all evil, and preserve the All-Spark while protecting the planet from destruction?
All in all, I absolutely loved this movie. It handled the transition from comic book and cartoon legends to the big screen wonderfully. The characters were energetic and filled with personality and humor, and the action sequences were unbelievable. Also the plot was close enough to the original cartoon version not to throw off diehard fans, but allowed for the very real reaction of the US military to see giant robots as threats against humanity. Everyone did a great job portraying their roles and I even found myself connecting with the robots who were more multi-faceted than I would have thought—I’m speaking of the Autobots only here. The Decpticons had little personality but in reality they did not need much for this movie. That most of the robot’s voices were done by the original voice actors was a definite plus. The biggest change from the cartoon was the number of robots shown, but again, as a film, twenty-something robots trolling around fighting over populated areas would be far too excessive. So go see this movie whether you’re a fan of the original or just interested in a good action film. You won’t be disappointed.