Transformers: Michael Bay Gets It Right

On July 3 I attended a showing of the Transformers film. Many fans were excited yet worried since Michael Bay was directing the film and moviegoers were considering some of his previous films (e.g. Pearl Harbor, Armageddon). But I must say that even though I am no fan of the director, Bay definitely delivered this time. My principles will not allow me to reveal much about the story because I think it is brilliant the way it unfolds. So I will simply mention a few high points for me.

I grew up watching the Transformers animated series and have been a huge fan of the original animated film Transformers: The Movie. I can remember that once while visiting my dad in Houston, he came home from work and told me that he had a surprise. He took me to Sears to pick up the gift he had ordered for me: an Optimus Prime action figure. This is one of my fondest memories. Michael Bay brought a similar exciting surprise with his new film. Peter Cullen, who performed the original voice of Optimus Prime in the animated series, would be lending his voice to Optimus Prime for this new film as well. I mean, what else could Bay have done? No one could have lived up to that famous voice. It was meant to be. This is definitely the greatest thing about this film to me. I have always looked up to the character of Optimus Prime. I know that sounds strange, but his sense of right and honor “no matter the cost” is an attribute that men of our day lack (but that is another topic for another post).

This film was very true to the spirit of the original Transformers. The story was told from the point of view of teenager named Sam. I really enjoyed Sam’s character because, though he was very dorky, he was also very quick-witted and delivered some great one-liners. Sam’s great wit brings me to another feature of this movie. The humor in general was very well written. There were never “groaners” (jokes so corny so as to elicit irritation from the audience rather than laughter. All of the gags were well-placed. The filmakers also avoided the trappings of other retro subject matter which is to put vintage characters in modern circumstances (such as dancing to modern dance music) or putting contemporary slang in their mouths. The only hint of this was at one moment after Sam had encountered the Autobots, Optimus Prime crushed one of Sam’s father’s beloved lawn statues and then stated “My bad.” Though this was a little out of Prime’s traditional character, it drove home a point that Prime had made earlier that they had been studying Earth’s culture and speech. But other than this, Prime, Ironhide, Bumblebee and the rest stayed true to their original character concepts.

Finally, the action in this movie was phenomenal. For viewers who are looking for a seriously dramatic plot, this movie may not be for you. There is drama, but only of the sort that you find in most action films. And though Sam has a love interest, there are no real “tender moments” that might appeal to the chick flick crowd. Transformers was always based on a simple plot scheme: the bad guys want to do something bad and the good guys must fight to stop them. Bay’s Transformers delivers nicely on this point and portrays battle sequences that are consistent with what Transformers are known for. Typically, it would seem that fate is against the Autobots until the last minute when help or strength comes from an unexpected source. The ending of the final battle was unforseen (at least by me) and contained a pleasant surprise that was not what I would have guessed given the foreshadowing that took place earlier in the film.

So if you are a fan of the Transformers or are just in the mood for a good action movie that will entertain, then I would encourage you to see this movie. But if you’re looking for a deep plot with twists and intricate characters, then this movie would not fit the bill.

My apologies to those who expected a cheesy “more than meets the eye” reference somewhere in this review, but I couldn’t find a good place to work it in. I tried.

Josh H.

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