Thursday, July 05, 2007


Never send a Bay to do a man’s job.
Seriously: How does director Michael Bay keep getting such high-profile gigs? There is so much to love about his latest movie, “Transformers,” until the end when he can’t help but blow everything up the way he has in every other movie he’s made. Maybe it’s fitting, though, that a story about toys was made by a guy who treats filmmaking like playing with them.
I know not to take “Transformers” too seriously. I know it’s just a summer action pic. But I can’t help but wonder what could have been had ANYONE but Michael Bay been at the helm. Because this flick is pretty stinkin’ good for the first, oh, hour and a half. Credit screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, two “Alias” alums, for elevating the story beyond just big robots bashing one another.
And wow, speaking of those robots, it’s the Transformers themselves who save this movie. They are, in a word, awesome. My hat’s off to George Lucas’ special effects company, Industrial Light & Magic, for turning ’80s cartoon icons into 21st century visions of wonder. They are something to behold, especially when transforming from vehicle to robot while on the move. The Transformers make this venture worth watching.
But then Bay obviously steps in and leaves his “mark,” meaning a nonsensical conclusion featuring explosion after explosion after explosion, all of them lacking anything close to a point. Throw in a few cheesy lines of dialogue and—wrap! There’s a way to do spectacle with class—think Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, or Sam Raimi—where the action has an ebb and flow and, shockingly, moments of quiet. Bay heeds none of this; he’s like a monkey throwing his own crap at the screen. He basically wastes the evil character Megatron, and what should have been an epic fight between the Decepticon leader and noble Optimus Prime barely registers amongst the chaos.
That’s just the last half-hour or so, though. The rest of the movie is good enough to make it worthwhile, especially to see Prime and his fellow Autobots in all their gleaming metal glory. It’s just a shame these beloved characters were entrusted to such a clod who certainly has nothing more to offer than meets the eye.
Grade: B-

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