Based on the range of toys, and directed by Michael Bay, Transformers is a science-fiction film about a war between giant alien robots who disguise themselves as automobiles. There are two sides: the altruistic Autobots and the malevolent Decepticons, each fighting over the AllSpark, a MacGuffin cube of great power. This plot centres around Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Holes, Even Stevens) and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox, Jennifer’s Body, Jonah Hex), who get caught up in this intergalactic battle.
The entire film itself, to me, felt a little far-fetched. The plot was convoluted and needlessly over-complicated, especially with the half-baked sub-plots just thrown in, such as the story involving Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel, Life as we know it, New Year’s Eve) and his Special Operations military team, and the signal analyst Maggie Madsen (Rachael Taylor, See No Evil, Shutter). I can see where it was trying to go, but the storyline of Transformers just falls apart, cluttered with unnecessary characters.
This isn’t helped by the standard of acting, which varies from average to practically non-existent. Shia LaBeouf simply isn’t a strong enough actor to carry a film like this as the lead role, and I feel that he was miscast. In my opinion, somebody like Jesse Eisenberg or Michael Cera would have better suited the part. And as for Megan Fox, her performance was appalling. All she did was stand around looking attractive, and her one-dimensional character was so over-sexualised it was virtually objectification. This is a shame, since so much more depth could have been added to make the audience care for her as a character. Again, this is attempted so clumsily it just doesn’t work, which adds insult to injury of the already implausible relationship between the two and the complete lack of chemistry between them.
However, at least the special effects aren’t that bad. The robots both look and sound great on screen, even if they all look extremely similar. This can lead to confusion in hectic action sequences, particularly with the excessive use of pyrotechnics, slow-motion and shaky camera. The voice work for the Transformers is pretty solid, with highlights being Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings) as Megatron, the ruler of the Decepticons and Peter Cullen (Winnie the Pooh) as Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, even if Cullen does sound like a budget Liam Neeson.
On the whole, Transformers is quite disappointing. It could have been an in-depth sci-fi movie with an engaging plot, but instead Michael Bay gave us a pretty yet forgettable film that will entertain children but not much else.