Film Review: Transformers

by McKayle Davison

I visited my hometown, Charleston, WV, for the Fourth of July holiday this week. While I love West Virginia dearly, there is not a whole lot going on for young people. I blame this lack of social activities and the bad weather on the holiday for weakening my defenses such that I was easily convinced to go see Transformers. Even as I was buying my ticket, I couldn’t believe I was spending money on what was sure to be a monstrosity.*

Let’s just say I had the lowest of expectations for this film. While I don’t mind the occasional thinly plotted summer blockbuster, I couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for a movie based on a line of action figures.

The movie stars Shia Lebeouf as nerdy high school student Sam Witwicky, who, of course, just can’t seem to get ahead in life. The girl, the popular friends, and normalcy are just out of reach for Sam, but he hopes his new car will change that.

That is until Sam discovers that his car is actually a transforming alien robot. Through a series of events that is still a bit unclear to me, several more of these transformers come to Earth, and good guys and bad guys are established. The good guys – Autobots – have to beat the bad gusy – Decepticons – to something that belonged to Sam’s grandfather, an Arctic explorer. They then have to find and destroy the mysterious “Allspark,” an energy source which was the cause of a tremendous war on the Transformers’ home planet, but is now located somewhere on Earth.

The U.S. government is involved in a massive cover-up in ways that are never really clear. It turns out that Sam’s great-grandfather had discovered the leader of the Decepticons – Megatron – frozen in the Arctic ice. The government retrieved the massive robot and kept him cryogenically frozen in the Hoover Dam. As you can imagine, this didn’t end well.
In an end battle scene I can only describe as epic, destruction reigns. Sam and “the girl” (Megan Fox in the role of Mikaela Banes) work with a U.S. military special ops group to protect the Allspark from the Decepticons, destroying an entire city in the process. You can’t tell the different transformers apart, but there are lots of really fabulous explosions.

The heroic Autobots are led by the completely badass Optimus Prime. While I was never into Transformers as a kid, I can only assume this guy was a big deal, based on the audience’s reaction.

Jon Voight delivers a supremely dramatic performance as the Secretary of Defense, who has been kept in the dark about the discovery of Megatron. Josh Duhamel plays a homesick soldier, just trying to do the right thing and get home to his family. His whole subplot seems a little unnecessary, so I think he was just thrown in to up the hotness factor.

When the film was over, I turned to my friend and said, “Well, that was dumb.” But then something strange happened – I realized I was smiling. Never had I been so consistently entertained by a movie. Two and a half hours had flown by, and I had enjoyed every minute. I couldn’t really say exactly what had happened in the movie, besides of a lot of explosions and dramatic music, but I had a good time. I wouldn’t avoid this summer blockbuster – just don’t expect to understand why you like it.

*Editor's Notes: Many others had similar excuses; Transformers brought in more than $24 million at the box office on its opening day of July 3. Transformers is rated PG-13.

(Promotional photo of Optimus Prime in Transformers from Dreamworks Pictures. To see a trailer for the film, please check below.)

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