This summer has seen many a blockbuster come and go: Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Ocean's 13, Shrek 3, Harry Potter 5, Die Hard 4.0... Let's go through them:
Spider-Man 3 will go down as being "the third one that wasn't as good as the second"
Pirates 3 will be "the one that was better than the second, but didn't live up to the first"
Ocean's 13 will be 'remembered' as "the threequel most easily forgotten"
I could go on and on. But I won't.
What is certain, is that people will remember Transformers. It's 2007's biggest and best blockbuster, with all you could ever want in a movie based on a Hasbro toy. It's the ultimate popcorn flick, only requiring a disengaged brain and a pair of eyeballs to take in the plot, action and thrills. The incredibly simple premise is summed up in a plot-by-numbers voice-over, neatly giving enough information to intrigue and excite, but without any real depth.
Our hero, played by the instantly likable Shia LaBoeuf, is Sam Whitwicky - just your average teenager. Like most young adults, he wants a car, pines over hottie Mikeala [Megan Fox], and has awkward talks with his parents. The movie's surprisingly large amount of comedic moments usually come from Sam, as he tries to hide the fact that his car is, in fact, an alien space robot. He isn't particularly interested in his family history, and what he knows about his explorer Grandfather, he uses to sell various things he left behind to raise money for his car fund. One of these objects is a pair of glasses, which holds the key to the whereabouts of the AllSpark, a life-giving cube. This is where the giant transforming robots come in. The Decepticons [bad robots] want the cube to turn every electronic gadget into a Transformer to make an army. The Autobots [good robots] want the cube to stop the Decepticons from getting it. Unfortunately, the Decepticons are already on Earth, whilst the Autobots are still floating through space...
The film's thrilling opening sequence shows a desert attack in which we most definitely lose. It is cleverly done, showing glimpses of the Transformer, but not showing you exactly what is going on. It's just one of many jaw-dropping action sequences, which, luckily, come thick and fast, though not in a way that you begin to feel bored or uninterested. Other favourites include a night-time battle between Decepticon Barricade and Autobot Bumblebee [Sam's car]. This is the first time we see the Transformers in full, and it's incredibly impressive - the sound of metal grinding upon metal has never been so invigorating, and you can't help but find yourself grinning.
The film itself is heavily endorsed - as much as action comedy as an advert for Nokia, Camaros, iPods and Macs, X-Box 360s, Mountain Dew and, more controversially, the army. The list goes on and on. Most scenes involve either choppers or soldiers, with heroes nobly fighting for the freedom of the world.
One of the reasons why the films works so well is in the fact that the Transformers themselves are real characters - they're all different, from trigger-happy Ironhide to dignified do-gooder Optimus Prime, each Transformer has its own personality. It's rare when, in a film, you can connect with a load of giant CGI robots, but small touches help us to like them. My favourite is Bumblebee's tendancy to use the radio to help Sam win over Mikaela, playing appropriate music whenever he sees her. It's these moments, as well as the incredible action sequences which will be remembered far into the future. It's genuinely touching to see the bond between teen and machine, and Sam's devotion to Bumblebee's cause. This is no doubt one of Spielberg's [who Executive Produced] touches, and he did a good job at reigning in Bay slightly. There are also some surprisingly nice shot types used, which I didn't particularly expect from Bay.
This leads us on to the smackdowns. There are so many. And they are oh so painstakingly good. I spent most of the film with my hand over my mouth, my eyes wide, thinking to myself "this is so cool". From the opening desert decimation, to the Barricade/Bumblebee battle, to the Optimus Prime vs. Megatron finale to name but a few, the action is captivating, engrossing, and simply amazing. The CGI is absolutely flawless - the best I've ever seen; the Transformers are works of art, especially Megatron, who often transforms into a jet whilst in mid-air. I can guarantee that, over the course of the summer, the amount of quality action in Transformers will not be beaten. Each Transformer consists of thousand of tiny moving parts, and watching them transform [even when they aren't fighting] is mind blowing. It just goes to show how far CGI has come, a memo obviously missed by the Harry Potter team when animating Hagrid's half-brother Grawp.
Many people have complained that the robots-search-for-cube story is stupid and dumb, but when we look at our culture and society, it isn't so far removed. When Bush was convinced that middle eastern countries were hiding WMDs, we invaded to try and find them so that they don't have them. Is this not what the Transformers were doing all along? Luckily, Transformers doesn't take itself too seriously - it knows how preposterous it is, and instead of taking itself into the realms of deep silliness, it just carries on knowingly, without straying too far away from what the fanboys want. The comedy and action are balanced perfectly, and it is always thoroughly entertaining.
So, to sum up, you won't see a better blockbuster all summer. With Spielberg and Bay working together, they've made a hugely enjoyable action movie with well-rounded characters, incredible CGI and a huge metal heart for every metal fist. Comparisons have been made with Spielberg's masterpiece Jurassic Park [one of my favourite films ever]. It turns out they are perfectly justified...
Genre Value: 5/5
Entertainment Value: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5