Even although I’m indisputably a child of the ‘80s, I think much of the decade must have passed me by without my realising it. Must have been all the drugs I took in the ‘70s. I remember Transformers, of course, but I can’t says I ever watched it, and my knowledge of it probably has more to do with big fat Orson’s involvement than the show or toys themselves.
Which is why you won’t hear me complaining about Michael Bay raping my childhood or any such unpleasantness. Yes, the man is a hack of the highest order, and it’s difficult to know where to begin to list everything that’s wrong with Transformers. Mind you, I could give it a damn good try – the plot doesn’t make a lick of sense, the dialogue is juvenile and inane, the editing is shambolic and much of the acting is enthusiastic at best.
But my, oh my, the man can create spectacle. There are sights on show here that I promise the likes of which you’ll have never seen. You’ll see things that will give you goosebumps, things that will make you rub your eyes in disbelief. You’ll see special effects that have advanced to such a level that a thirty foot tall computer generated metal monster rampaging down a city street looks as though it’s actually there.
What passes for a story has something to do with a giant cube of immense power that came to earth from space centuries ago. It’s being sought by a group of warring robots who destroyed their own planet and have come to ours to continue their rumble. Their party trick is that they can take the form of any mechanical object, and so can disguise themselves as trucks, tanks and fighter jets. There’s some good ones (led by Optimus Prime, voiced by Cullen) and some bad ones (led by Megatron, voiced by Weaving). The bad ones want the cube, the good ones want to destroy the cube. They fight. We watch.
But, as I said, there’s a lot of muck to wade through before we get to the good stuff. Thank god then for LaBeouf, who plays the teenager at the centre of the carnage, in possession of the MacGuffin that reveals the location of the cube. His winsome presence and sparky delivery enliven even the dullest and most idiotic stretches, where logic disappears in a puff of smoke, as day becomes night and night becomes day, often within the same scene, just so that Bay can continue in his search for the perfect sunset, his whirligig camera all the time wrapping itself round people’s shoulders in moody slo-mo. It would be hideous if it weren’t so goddamn entertaining.
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