Tuesday, June 23, 2009

REVIEW: Transformers


Year: 2007
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

The films development began with producer Don Murphy (Shoot 'Em Up) talking to Hasbro about adopting G.I. Joe into a film. After the United States took part in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Hasbro suggested that they do a Transformers film instead of G.I. Joe. Being a fan of the toys when growing up, Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park, Minority Report) signed on as executive producer of the film in 2004. Writer John Rogers wrote the first draft of the film which was later re-written by writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek) in 2005. Spielberg suggested that "a boy and his car" should be the focus of the story. Orci and Kurtzman's first draft consisted of the Transformers having no dialogue, as the producers feared talking robots would look silly. The writers felt that even if it would look silly, not having the robots speak would betray the fan base. Michael Bay was asked to direct by Spielberg in 2005, but turned the film down stating it was nothing more than a "stupid toy movie". Still, he wanted to work with Spielberg, and gained a new respect for the Transformers mythology upon visiting Hasbro. Bay didn't like Orci and Kurtzman's first draft so he increased the military's role in the story.

Plot Outline:
For centuries, two races of robotic aliens -- the Autobots and the Decepticons -- have waged a war, with the fate of the universe at stake. When the battle comes to Earth, all that stands between the evil Decepticons and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). An average teenager, Sam is consumed with everyday worries about school, friends, cars and girls. Unaware that he alone is mankind's last chance for survival, Sam and his friend Mikaela (Megan Fox) find themselves in a tug of war between the Autobots and Decepticons. With the world hanging in the balance, Sam comes to realize the true meaning behind the Witwicky family motto - "No sacrifice, no victory!"

I thought I go back and revisit this film in preparation for Revenge of the Fallen which is set to debut tomorrow in theaters nationwide. The films story relies too heavily on the human characters which should always be second before the actual Transformers especially in a film named after the robots. Our focus is mainly on Shia LaBeouf's character and his somewhat flat connection with the Autobot Bumblebee who is mostly in car form for the first 30 minutes of the film. The Autobots and Decepticons don't really get any time to shine until the every end. For some of us who have waited ages to see our favorite toys brought to life really just want to see two robot sides fighting in massive chaos. Its a shame that Megatron - the leader of the Decepticons - finally gets into battle with Prime near the end. Theirs also some side plots that don't add to the core of the movie and only end up stretching the movie longer than it should be. Why involve a crack team of analysts who suddenly decide to disappear near the end? The films dialogue is either cheesy at times or downright stupid. I love that Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime from the TV series is back with some of the original cast, but his jokes are painful to listen to. For some reason, the film just feels like a long military/product placement commercial. While the film does suffer in some areas, its still entertaining none the less. While the action scenes aren't perfect, they are still very fun to watch especially near the end. Bay is simply excellent when it comes to big explosions and he doesn't disappoint here. The special effects are also top notch and really bring the Autobots, and Decepticons to life.

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye) plays as Sam Witwicky who is the main center of attention. The producers first thought he looked too old for the part, but LaBeouf used some make up and a good audition to pull it off. I think hes definitely the most enjoyable person in the whole movie. His character is corky, but funny. He gets the most screen time which isn't a surprise considering the film heavily involves his character. Megan Fox plays the hottie who gets involved with Witwicky's life, Mikaela Banes. Fox is hardly any good at acting and it really feels like shes only in this to please the male crowd. Her character is hardly developed and feels more like a sidekick rather than a girl who gets trapped in all of this mess. Josh Duhamel plays the tough US solider, Captain Lennox. His character is hardly needed, but he does a pretty good job at what hes suppose to do. The story could have honestly worked with out him, but whatever. Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious) also plays a US solider, but his character is named USAF Tech Sergeant Epps. I heard from some links that Gibson actually paid the producers to be in this movie. That right their makes him look so stupid and desperate. I mean why would you pay the producers of the movie to let you have a part in it? I just don't get it. His acting is very poor and hardly brings anything new to the table. No character development on him what so ever.

The special effects in Transformers actually doesn't disappoint. The effects were mostly done by Industrial Light & Magic which also provided effects for other hits such as Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. They are a talented studio and their work shows in this film. The Transformers are nicely lightened and constructed. The car models look very impressive and feature a ton of parts. This is easily one of the best films ever created visually and still holds up in 2009. The film's transfer is also a stunner. The source is an excellent condition and only exhibits a few gran here and their, but hardly anything I would call "distracting". The films color palette is wonderful and vibrant at times. The Autobots look nicely colored and feature bright colors while the Decepticons feature dark colors. Black levels are impressive and very inky. Flesh tones are natural and very smooth. Detail is also impressive and really pushes whats possible on the home format. The Blu Ray version has one of the better transfers I have seen and easily triumphs its DVD counterpart. You can literally see drops of sweat and pores during close ups.

The soundtrack in Transformers is also a winner. The films music design is composed by Steve Jablonsky (Friday the 13th) who also scored other films such as the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Michael Bay's commercial flop, The Island. Hes the right balance and is definitely the man for the job. His music design is awesome and really gives the film some legs. Its nicely used through out the films 2 hour run time and really makes the film much more enticing. The soundtrack also consists of other Rock/R&B music such as Before It's Too Late by The Goo Goo Dolls and my personal favorite, What I've Done by Linkin Park. Transformers also features one of the best bass usage I have heard in sometime now. Theirs no question that the film is loud and full of explosions, but its the way the bass is used through out that's impressive. Its dynamic and spread across all channels nicely. Its simply one of the loudest and aggressive films I have heard in some time. This is no doubt reference material from the get go. Transformers is easily the film to showcase ones home entertainment system. It is as perfect as it could possibly be.

Transformers is easily a fun summer popcorn flick. Its story does suffer from mindless characters and cheesy dialogue. The fact that the film relies too heavily on the boring human characters rather than the interesting alien wrecking robots, is also simply redundant. With all these issues aside, the films outcome comes off pretty entertaining. Theirs really nothing better than two robot forces going at it. Its sad that we have to wait till the second half before we see much carnage involved, but its somewhat worth the wait. The cast is hardly interesting other than Shia LaBeouf who gets the most screen time compared to anyone else in the movie. The special effects are simply stunning and really bring the Transformers to life. Its cutting edge and nicely integrated into the film. The soundtrack is loud and really fun. The bass is without a doubt, one of the best I have heard in a long time. Definitely something to showcase your home entertainment system. I can recommend this to those looking for a good summer popcorn flick. Its got issues, but those can be somewhat forgiven when you actually see the robots in action.

Grade: C+


Jaccstev said...

I'm really agree Farzan, this film is entertaining even though the story is weak. We hope that Bay will make some improvements in the second film. But sadly, it looks like "Transformers 2" is getting some pretty bad reviews, it currently just sporting a 22% on RottenTomatoes.

micky said...

awesome review farzan, just rented this yesterday and enjoyed it. hope the sequel doesn't suck

Andrew The Dark said...

nice to see you got a review down for the first one. im headed to see the sequel in a few hours, a couple of my friends said it sucked.

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