I don't hate blockbusters, but what I do hate is bad film making, especially ones that use flashy, state-of-the-art CGI to make up for a rubbish script. Transformers is a case of this, I think and that's just one of it's many flaws.
Watching it again (in preparation for the sequel), my opinion has changed a lot from nearly two years ago when I was entertained by it. I had a feeling this was one of those disposable films that I'd see once and never touch it again, and I was right, cause it's bad, and here's why:
Acting: Judging from what I saw, this wanted the robots to play second fiddle to what was mostly a human story. Shame the humans lack interest, cause all I saw wavered shockingly poor to mediocre acting and the most one-dimensional characterisation I've seen in a while, along with cheesy, cringe worthy dialogue.
LaBeouf plays Sam, the main teen high-school boy in this, like deer caught in headlights. This constant panicky expression makes for a more weaker hero. Fox's character is our hero's crush, but she looks around 25 and dresses like a stripper. Her acting is very wooden and self-conscious, but since she's eye candy, she fulfils her purpose of being pretty to look at well, even if she looks nearly a decade older than her co-star. Duhamel and Gibson are bland as the two main soldiers - there's a particularly scene of unconvincing acting from Gibson in Qatar as Scorponok is tunnelling in the sand behind them. Turturro's manic and wacky performance is just unfunny and Voight on autopilot. Taylor ranges from mediocre to unbelievable and Anderson just plays a 'comic relief' stereotypical black man - a lot of the jokes fall flat and his character is annoying and unnecessary.
Much of the only good, noteworthy acting comes from the voice-over acting for the robots. Cullen's gravely, authoritative tone, especially at the very end of the film gave me goosebumps and even made some of the worst and most clichéd lines sound genuine. Harnell's voice too is good.
Cutting out the whole military sub-plots and the hackers would've concentrated the story on Sam and his family and the robots, which would've improved it slightly, but you're still left with that god-awful script.
Plot: Yet another vital flaw - the plot is vague and undeveloped. The narrative is severely lacking and even the basics of it, about a Allspark cube are laughable, yet this is all presented quite seriously. Scenes to be taken seriously are quite unintentionally funny.
So, it's 'plot', if it can be called that, is just a thin narrative that doesn't make much sense, as it hasn't been thoughtfully though from the start.
I was bothered by the lack of a good villain in Megatron - we're only shown a small flashback of his apparent wickedness, but he doesn't come across as a strong enough, feared antagonist. It sure doesn't help that his little dialogue is as silly as they come: 'give me the cube!'.
The origin of the robots could've been shown more in the opening. As a result of limiting what we know about the title characters themselves, there's no emotional investment in them much, and when one Autobot is killed, it doesn't have any impact. The same one-dimensional approach is used for the cardboard cutouts that are the humans.
So, a superficial 'plot' and characters leave me cold. The particular scenes with sentimentality feel shoehorned in and the whole onanism part is so stupid and inappropriate. Add the silly romantic bits and it feels so contrived, I'm surprised that this script was green-lighted.
Cinematography: Bay loves to pan the camera right to left, left to right, 360 degrees around someone, over used slow-mo, insert panning aerial shots and close ups that gradually come closer - very rarely does the camera stay still. Scenes lasting five to ten seconds mostly also have a quick cut editing technique throughout. Ironically enough, these film trailer-like scenes end up in an overlong film, with a self-indulgent tone, especially in big set pieces.
The explosions and general action scenes are unwatchable and tiresome because of this approach. I hate watching a film shot in an ADD type way, especially when ineptly done. Yes, the CGI is photo-real and great, but those computer effects don't deserve a film as badly done as this.
The main seven action scenes don't redeem the film and all share one thing in common - a lack of tension or suspense. That lack of restraint and diligence creates an air of impatience in me. The end climatic part ended on a very weak note.
Overall: Only the CGI for the robots, really good voice acting for Prime and the lovable Bumblebee were it's few good points. Apart from that, the film is brainless, bloated, clichéd and is a tedious experience to endure. Even the humans are horribly written, the action sequences with the robots sound like pots clanging together (which is weird for such large and heavy cybernetic organisms) and are a chore to follow who's beating up who. Stupid panning shots, fast cut editing and bad, cheap jokes makes this one of the worst sci-fi action films I've seen, so far. There's no heart in it - just one long advert for cars, eBay and the Transformers toys. A film made primarily for lads mag reader, since it doesn't have anything to offer apart from visuals.
There's nothing wrong with making a fun blockbuster, but at least get a good story , fully realised characters with normal non-panning pacing before you start principle photography. Kids making up stories while playing with their toys is more entertaining than all 2 hours 15 mins of this and probably more creative.
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