No matter how hard I try I just can't get excited over Michael Bay's mega hit "Transformers". It's without a doubt a visual delight of CGI enhanced, over the top action and smuggles in a reasonably pleasant line in humour, but that doesn't make up for me the critical lack of character development and a compelling storyline. Maybe it's because I was never into the whole Transformer thing as a child so the anticipation and excitement of this 2007 release passed me by, or maybe that like with many over hyped movies I got sick of people telling me it was an amazing movie, maybe it's something else. What ever it is for me "Transformers" is just another big bang movie without a big storyline.
When Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf - Disturbia) buys his first car a beaten up old Camaro, what he doesn't know, is that it's actually a highly advanced robot from another planet. The Camaro is not the only robot in disguise to have arrived on Earth as there is also Optimus Prime and a group of others trying to discover the location of the AllSpark a very powerful cube. But Optimus is not alone and his enemy Megatron is also on Earth searching for the same AllSpark and will destroy everyone and anything in his way to get it.
Part of my issues with "Transformers" is that it doesn't really have a compelling storyline despite running 3 stories in parallel before converging them in time for the big finale which lasts for well on half an hour. Yes there is the story of the soldiers in Qatar who suddenly come under attack from a Decepticon, which leads nicely on to the story of the analysts and hackers trying to decipher the little data left by this attack as it tried to tap into the computer systems. Then of course you also have what is the main storyline of Sam, love interest Mikaela, his grandfathers glasses and his car which unbeknown to him is a Transformer. You would think with so many storylines it would be a packed movie full of compelling, intricate stories which cleverly intertwine, except that none of them really have a storyline and whilst they intertwine it's not in any way clever. They are their purely as a vehicle for all the set piece action and little else.
Add to this you also have the back story to the battle between that Autobots and Decepticons and the cube which leads them to earth and Sam Witwicky. So yes there is a little bit of cleverness to this, with Megatron being discovered buried in the ice caps but then the storyline when merged with the other three pails into insignificance, because the whole emphasis of "Transformers" is not on story telling but on the special effect loaded action. Which leads to another issue and that is with the occasionally hiatus in action the movie actually starts to lull because there is no substance to fill in.
But "Transformers" is first and fore mostly an effects driven movie and even I will say that at times these CGI battles and set pieces are impressive. That is when the movie actually slows down enough so you can take in the impressive work done to make the like of Optimus Prime look imposing and Bumble Bee look slightly quirky with all its moving parts. But the majority of the movie is fast paced action which means much of the intricate splendour of the creations is lost in a blur of colour especially when it comes to the battle sequences which end up giving you a head ache. Not because of the sheer loudness of these action scenes, but because of the purposefully shaky camera work combined with the constantly blurred visuals just do your eyes in. But for those who enjoy over the top action sequences will no doubt enjoy all this frantic activity as the special effects not so much pepper the movie but fill it from beginning to end.
Another major sticking point for me is that the characters are all 2 dimensional, making it impossible to connect with any of them on a single level. Current Mr. Popular Shia LaBeouf provides that bit of teenage humour and slight nervousness with his character of Sam Witwicky but there is little else to him than that, despite being the focal point of the movie. Or is in fact Megan Fox the real focal point as director Michael Bay seems to spend a lot of time focussing on the stars sexy attributes as Mikaela Banes, turning the character into pure eye candy with no real part to play other than pair up with LaBeouf's Sam.
Other characters fair on the same level with the likes of Jon Voight as Defence Secretary John Keller and Tyrese Gibson as Sergeant Epps adding nothing but recognizable faces to the proceedings. Then there is Josh Duhamel who as Captain Lennox seems to be taking up the mantle of Michael Beihn playing his character in exactly that army action figure manner which Beihn delivered so well in many movies. It's not until well over half way through the movie does a character appear which makes some impact that of Agent Simmons played for laughs by John Turturro and thankfully he does because it saves "Transformers" when it seems to be really struggling.
What this all boils down to is that "Transformers" for some will be a spectacularly entertaining movie, delivering the vibrant CGI enhanced action which fills cinemas these days. But for me it is a mixture, it has a few good moments such as the stunning CGI used to create the Transformers and the inclusion of John Turturro. But for the most it is a shallow movie with no compelling storyline or characters relying too heavily on its visual ferocity to keep you entertained.