(intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor, language)
Length: 144 minutes (2:24)
Director: Michael Bay
Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
My Rating: 7 of 10
Family Friendly: Yes, for most families.
One-Sentence Review: Transformers was a slam-bang sci-fi action movie with the action level set to “teen” and the brain activity level set to “not too smart.”
Main Stars: Shia La Beouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro
It’s obvious from Director Michael Bay’s history that he’s an expert entertainer, not always concerned with scientific accuracy, and not too worried about leaving unexplained holes in the stories he tells.
There are quite a few Bay-esque sequences and camera angles here, as well as music that the audience will recognize from his previous films.
This is only part of what makes the movie enjoyable.
Basically, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox as teenagers from two different social classes who are bonded together by their early knowledge of the Autobots — the good guys in the Transformers story. They spend most of the movie running from the evil Decepticons, arguing with government agents, and sometimes shooting back.
As it turns out, LaBeouf’s character is descended from an Arctic explorer who accidentally came across one of the first Transformers to land on Earth.
You don’t have to know much about the Transformers story (or 1980s cartoon) to enjoy the movie; the main plot points of the franchise are explained briefly during the movie’s opening credits, and a few details are explained later.
The action is mostly clean (no gushing blood or destroyed body parts are shown), and deaths are depicted in fleeting moments without much emphasis. The language is safe for young teens, and very little of the subject matter or language would concern parents of younger children (the S-word seems to be the main offender).
For a thinking person, the movie starts to fall apart pretty quickly.
* No one seems to question or try to understand how the giant robots (between three and six stories tall) can fold themselves into an object the size of a sports car.
* None of the characters ask any questions about the “Allspark,” once they’re told of it by the Autobots. The Allspark is apparently a life-giving device lost during the Destruction of the home planet, Cybertron, but most of the characters just seem to know this instinctively.
*Possibly because it’s now so common in alien-invasion movies, nobody questions that the aliens are made of nearly indestructible metal and can withstand almost impossible amounts of missile explosions, large-caliber gunfire, and extreme heat. No scientists are shown evaluating the metal or learning how to manufacture or destroy it. (Although the government has apparently been in possession of Megatron — the lead bad guy — for more than half a century, “reverse-engineering” all our modern technology from him.)
*Master Sgt. Epps (Gibson) is wearing the stripes of a Technical Sergeant.
*Air Force One is a Boeing 747 in the air, but a KC-135 on the ground.
*Bumblebee (an Autobot who can disguise himself as a Camaro) sometimes has tinted windows, and sometimes doesn’t.
*The finale battle is supposed to be in a city “22 miles” from the Hoover Dam. In real life, Boulder City is 5.6 miles from the dam, and Henderson is 13.4 miles away. Las Vegas is about the right distance from the dam, but looks nothing like the city in the finale, having nothing like the skyscraper skyline that’s shown in the final battle.
*During the pre-finale attack at the Hoover Dam, the Air Force is said to be scrambling F-22 Raptors, but the film shows an F-16 Falcon being fueled for the flight.
*After all communications in the U.S. are killed, extras in several scenes are talking on cell phones.
*When a certified computer hacker attempts to “hot-wire” a desktop computer to a short-wave radio to send Morse code, he’s actually hot-wiring a CRT monitor, which has no computing abilities.
*Though all the Transformers can only transform into objects they’ve had a chance to “scan,” Megatron somehow transforms into a jet aircraft, though’s he’s been in isolated custody for something like 70 years and has never seen a jet fighter.
*The film ends with the defeated Decepticons being dropped into the Laurentian Abyss, described in the movie as the deepest part of the ocean, although it’s well-known and documented that the deepest point on Earth is in the Challenger Deep, at the southern end of the Mariana Trench. In the movie’s defense, Wikipedia lists both the Challenger Deep and the Laurentian Abyss as the “deepest.”
Despite these goofs or oversights, the average movie-goer has long been able to “suspend his disbelief,” with so many action movies these days readily ignoring facts or common questions.
Transformers isn’t any different. It’s flashy, it’s cool, it’s scary (to a kid), and of course it has the theme that a teenager and his buddies can save the world even though the entire government and military is incompetent and about to be destroyed.