Transformers is something I more or less hold the same opinion about when I watched it in theaters, 10 years later. It’s not terrible by any stretch and most of the action is well done, but the acting is subpar and the dialogue even worse.
Genre(s): Action, Science Fiction
Paramount | PG13 – 143 min. – $31.99 | December 5, 2017
Date Published: 11/30/2017 | Author: The Movieman
THE MOVIE — 3.0/5
Note: This portion was copied over from my 2007 theatrical review. Amazingly enough, despite 10 years passing by, my thoughts pretty much match up…
I should admit this upfront as I never really understood the whole “Transformers” appeal back in the day (spanning from the mid-80s to the 90s), so this review is coming from the standpoint of an outsider. Therefore, a short summary of my thoughts on the big-screen extravaganza would be: “I don’t get it.” And yes, I know I’m in the vast minority…
Simply explained, Transformers is about an alien species of robots who came to Earth in search of an all-powerful box. One group, called Autobots, are there to protect the human race and stop their evil counterparts, the Decepticons, led by Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving). The two races lived peacefully on planet Cybertron until the Decepticons turned against the Autobots and took control (I guess naming them Traitorcons would have been more obvious). Before Megatron could gain total power, the Autobots send off a cube called “Allspark” where it was hid on planet Earth. Megatron goes after it and ends up frozen on Earth, circa 1850, where he was discovered by an explorer and his crew. Earth circa 2007 finds the two groups racing for this cube; one wants it for the power, the other to not only stop the Decepticons but to also protect the humans.
On the human side, the story is split on different paths. One begins in Qatar with Captain Lennox (JOSH DUHAMEL) and Tech Sergeant Epps (TYRESE GIBSON) where their base is attacked by one of these robots. Within the U.S., government officials try to find the attacker with Defense Secretary John Keller (JON VOIGHT) leading that charge. Meanwhile teen knucklehead Sam Witwicky (SHIA LABEOUF) gets his first car with the help of his dad, and soon discovers it can transform into a robot. Oh, and Sam has a crush on hot girl Mikaela (MEGAN FOX), a grease monkey vis-à-vis her mechanic father.
Michael Bay is a hot/cool director to me. I’ve enjoyed some of his endeavors like The Rock, Armageddon and The Island and didn’t care for a couple others (Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor). Obviously the guy is a one-dimensional filmmaker — The Island had another layer trying to break through — so for Transformers, it would seem he’d be the perfect guy for the job.
Action and CGI-wise, Transformers does not disappoint showcasing some incredible visual and special effects and sound that will burst your eardrums. However, like most CGI-centric films, I have a hard time really getting into it. Add to the fact I have no interest in the Transformers toy line or their offspring (cartoons and games) this movie offers little else.
The casting, like in most Bay flicks, has actors there to fulfill roles and add little to the plot itself. LaBeouf continues his journey to stardom (playing Indiana Jones’s son next year) and while Megan Fox is certainly hot, the whole bad and girl gone good has been done so many times before. Then there are the other supporting characters that come in and out as the script deems. Going in, I know these characters were going to be thinly written — the movie is called Transformers after all, but some of them were not needed (more on that later).
In all honesty, I was at least half-entertained by this loud and obnoxious blockbuster action flick. I say half-entertained because after the 10th transformation, not to mention iconic poses and typical Bay-istic shot setups, the novelty wore off. Yeah, the special effects were awesome (probably best to date) and I was impressed with most of the action sequences, but after the two-hour mark, I wanted everything to end.
I said the same thing concerning the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and I’ll say it again here: why do these filmmakers think these movies need to be on the epic proportion when it comes to length? Just as Dead Man’s Chest was a 2:30 hour PIRATE movie, this too is a 2:27 ROBOT movie. I can think back and see several plot points and characters that could and should have been eliminated:
A few scenes here and there were unnecessary and added absolutely nothing to either the story or the “awesomeness” of the visual effects. If Michael Bay showed some restraint, Transformers could’ve come in under two-hours and to me, a tighter movie I think would’ve made for a better one. Maybe not in a classic Star Wars kind of way, but none-the-less better.
Transformers isn’t a terrible movie, just incredibly flawed. I’m sure I’m in the minority in disliking it. In fact, during portions of the film, I found myself scanning the audience where many looked awestruck at what they were seeing. Some are even equating this as 1977 all over again… I won’t begrudge their enjoyment but as someone who is detached from the entire thing, Transformers does not pass muster with me. I don’t expect in-depth storylines or characters, but at least give me something to care about. Instead, what I got was a bunch of robots fighting each other and me in the middle not caring who wins.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 5.0/5
This three-disc release comes with a glossy title-embossed slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy. Portions of this is new, others from the 2008 Blu-ray review.
Audio Commentary with Director Michael Bay – While I despise Bay for his ridiculous statements he made during the format war, this track is really not that bad. He delves deep into many different aspects of the film and actors and rarely is there any type of break. ** Available on both the 4K and Blu-ray discs. **
H.U.D. “Heads Up Display” – Simply put – activate this feature. This is an amazing feature that has so many things happening on screen that it was a joy to watch. Easily one of the best Picture-in-Picture tracks I’ve had to pleasure of watching.
Our World (49:17; HD)
These behind the scenes featurettes have interviews with those involved with the production, like Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, Writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orici and Director Michael Bay, amongst others. They delve into developing the story, casting, military training and action.
Their War (1:05:13; HD)
As you can tell from the featurette titles, these focus squarely on bringing the various Transformers to life in live action form, but also goes into where the toy line originated which began in Japan before Hasbro came in and advanced the characters and stories into animation form.
Tech Inspector is a 360 look at the Autobots.
More Than Meets the Eye
4K VIDEO – 5.0/5
|If there was any filmmaker that was made for the 4K format, it would be Michael Bay. Well, and James Cameron if Avatar makes the jump to 4K. Transformers lands on UHD presented in its original 2.40 aspect ratio and a 2160p HD transfer (HEVC / H.265 codec). I was rather impressed with this, detail of course is incredibly sharp and crisp throughout and, especially, colors are amazingly vibrant utilizing the HDR10 (the disc also has Dolby Vision). You can see the stark blues on Optimus Prime and the bronze glistening off of Megan Fox’s face, arms and legs.|
4K AUDIO – 5.0/5
|The disc does get a nice upgrade going from Dolby TrueHD 5.1 to Atmos. As with the video, Michael Bay movies fully benefit from this Atmos track where the plethora action sequences envelops the entire home theater room with excellent clarity and the LFE kicks in to rumble the walls and floors giving that extra depth. Dialogue levels and main action coming from the center speakers is crisp and clean.|
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Transformers is something I more or less hold the same opinion about when I watched it in theaters, 10 years later. It’s not terrible by any stretch and most of the action is well done, but the acting is subpar and the dialogue even worse. Then you add in a bloated plot, it’s not hard to see why I’ve avoided seeing this again. The 4K UHD released by Paramount offers excellent video/audio transfers, reference quality really, and a decent selection of bonus features.
Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.