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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Great action and fun can't compete with a horrid script
on July 15, 2007
Before I relate the film's many faults, I should first acknowledge the movie's highly entertaining qualities. First and foremost, the digital rendering of the transformers is spectacular. They move quickly and violently with shiny and shape-shifting certainty, at ease in a manner that the 1980s cartoon could not properly relate. The very concept of the transformers was far beyond hand-drawn animation. The new transformers are truly awesome and majestic in stature. Their capacity for carnage should be the envy of all action movies.
The cartoon succeeded due heavily to the incredible voice acting. I was pleased that Peter Cullen agreed to lend his booming, voice-of-God talents to the character of Optimus Prime. His talents, however, are not exploited as they should have been. He acts as the film's narrator, delivering the familiar opening narrative and epilogue I witnessed in nearly every episode of the cartoon. He is the most reflective of all the transformers, yet he is not allowed to relate his wisdom as often as he should have been in this movie.
One bit of voice acting that bothered me was that of Jazz. In the old cartoon, Jazz was voiced by Scatman Crothers, the caretaker of the hotel in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. The late Crothers' voice was replaced with a decidedly "urban black hipster" voice (Darius McCrary), which sounded incredibly racist and completely unnecessary. To complete the racial profiling, Jazz can be seen hanging and climbing around the city like a monkey in a jungle. It was painful to watch and halted my suspension of disbelief.
Further, who decided that the transformers needed to talk like teenagers and crack stupid jokes? They are in a fight for the existence of the universe, yet when Optimus Prime tramples a lawn ornament, he excuses himself, saying, "My bad." It's somewhat funny, but I wanted to be concerned about the plot, yet I was constantly sidestepped by ridiculous one-liners and idiocy on the part of this supposedly superior race of organic robots.
There are far too many human characters taking precedence in this film: too many subplots, too many gorgeous girls, often in unbelievable roles. The only necessary human character is Sam Witwicky (enthusiastically played by Shia LeBeouf). Why did we need a cameo by Bernie Mack? He's funny, yes, but his character is completely irrelevant. And John Turturro, whom I revere as a great character actor, looks desperate. While incredibly cheesy, Jon Voight manages to act the part of U.S. Secretary of Defense with a slice of dignity.
Plot holes: Wow, there are so many, I quit bothering with them. The central problem of the entire movie - and one can say this of all of Michael Bay's films - is that Bay does not trust the subject matter to carry the film. Self-referential comments about his film Armageddon are embarrassing, indeed. And the product placement in this film sometimes takes the viewer so far outside the film that one would think GM engineered the entire narrative to sell gas-guzzling cars.
I wanted to like this movie, but something was missing. That element of believable science fiction is completely neglected in this film. You only get ten or twenty minutes of fun sci-fi action before some character makes a stupid joke or a plot hole spreads out before you. If there is a sequel to this film (and there should be) and Michael Bay doesn't direct it (and he shouldn't), the groundwork is there.