|2007 USA Transformers|
Summary: "I bought a car. Turned out to be an alien robot. Who knew?" deadpans Sam Witwicky, hero and human heart of Michael Bay's rollicking robot-smackdown fest, Transformers. Witwicky (the sweetly nerdy Shia LaBeouf, channeling a young John Cusack) is the perfect counterpoint to the nearly nonstop exhilarating action. The plot is simple: an alien civil war (the Autobots vs. the evil Decepticons) has spilled onto Earth, and young Sam is caught in the fray by his newly purchased souped-up Camaro. Which has a mind--and identity, as a noble-warrior robot named Bumblebee--of its own. The effects, especially the mind-blowing transformations of the robots into their earthly forms and back again, are stellar.
Fans of the earlier film and TV series will be thrilled at this cutting-edge incarnation, but this version should please all fans of high-adrenaline action. Director Bay gleefully salts the movie with homages to pop-culture touchstones like Raiders of the Lost Ark, King Kong, and the early technothriller WarGames. The actors, though clearly all supporting those kickass robots, are uniformly on-target, including the dashing Josh Duhamel as a U.S. Army sergeant fighting an enemy he never anticipated; Jon Voight, as a tough yet sympathetic Secretary of Defense in over his head; and John Turturro, whose special agent manages to be confidently unctuous, even stripped to his undies. But the film belongs to Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, and the dastardly Megatron--and the wicked stunts they collide in all over the globe. Long live Transformers! --A.T. Hurley
On the DVD The special edition of Transformers is packed with extras (and more than a few product placements for Hasbro). The entire second disc is devoted to featurettes on aspects of making the technical tour-de-force--and the land mines involved in tinkering with a beloved '80s franchise. Executive producer Steven Spielberg is very much a part of the proceedings, from his introductory comments ("I think everybody likes the idea of taking something you're familiar with and turning it into something you're not so familiar with--like an 18-wheeler become Optimus Prime") to mentions of his films that influenced this one, like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Director Michael Bay is brash and entertaining as he talks about his initial reluctance to take on the project, his indoctrination at "Transformers U" at Hasbro, and his enthusiasm for guerrilla-style action filmmaking. Star Shia LaBoeuf says, "He is the sickest action director" out there, and there's plenty of evidence here to support that. Other great highlights include features on how key scenes were shot, including the heart-pounding desert battle and the shootout in the streets of downtown L.A.--adrenaline-pumping stuff, even without the Transformers CGI'd in. --A.T. Hurley
More Than Meets the Eye
The Original Movie
Transformers Image Gallery (click for larger image)