(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)
(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)
SW SCORE: 23
2 out of 5 🐙
Grotesque product placement. Look, I’m no idiot. I know Hollywood isn’t making movies for the good of mankind. It’s all about the Benjamins. But the multiple Ebay and Google references and the Mac Book Pro displayed on center screen and the General Motors veneration was beyond anything I had seen before. I understand the Autobots should be normal production vehicles, but do they all have to come from the same corporation? Yes, I get that GM paid a lot of money for those exclusive rights.
Cinematography: I used to defend Michael Bay’s visual style. I always said his movies will have abysmal plot holes, shaky acting, and poor pacing, but like a South Beach club girl it will look hot AF. But as I was watching Transformers, I started to notice something that I should have noticed before. Bay has not evolved or improved his style since The Rock. The Bay way to create dramatic tension is to put everything in slow motion and have the sun behind the characters to create a movie poster still image. He does this about every ten minutes. It is the very definition of aesthetic melodrama. I just wanted to shake the screen and tell it to get over itself. Dramatic tension comes from the growth and conflict of developed characters, not overly bright lighting behind a character when they are supposed to be facing a big decision.
Plot Holes: Huge parts of the plot (and I’m being generous when I call this string of events a plot) were never explained. And when you think about the goal of this movie (story-wise, not financially), I guess that doesn’t really matter. Bay’s goal is to set up his action set pieces. I don’t take issue with the fight scenes and the CGI. They all looked good. But it was as if the plot existed for them, unlike the organic action set pieces in The Bourne Identity or Die Hard.
The earthling discovery of the AllSpark (the mythical source of Transformer life) didn’t get one sentence. They mentioned that they found Megatron frozen in the arctic circle in the 1920s, but they didn’t care to mention how or why they decided to keep him frozen. Maybe that was a lucky break. But here’s the rub. Agent Simmons (played by John Turturro in his worse role as an actor) said humankind discovered all their computer technology by reverse engineering Megatron. I assumed they would have had to unfreeze Megatron to examine his circuits for said “reverse engineering”. Wouldn’t they NEED modern technology to carefully examine an alien robot WITHOUT unfreezing him? Shockingly, as soon as Megatron was unfrozen in the movie, he reactivated and blew everyone up. This makes no sense.
Tones: a movie should have one tone or at the very least, a massive tonal shift should make sense and the transition should be elegant. If you’re doing a serious thriller like Cape Fear, you don’t introduce a goofy character to tell jokes and make light of the situation. John Turturro’s character apparently represented a top secret defense agency that safeguards the planet from alien invasion and has single-handedly been responsible for all modern technology. But he acts like no professional government agent. High-level government agents do not crack jokes and make stupid comments. Especially not when the United States is supposedly under attack. See Die Hard: Live Free or Die Hard for conduct becoming a government agent when national security is breached. Action-comedy is an established genre, but this movie started out with a ‘The Rock‘ vibe and headed towards Men in Black territory, then veered to Armageddon land. Tone is important, Mr. Bay. Perhaps even more important than CGI.
Acting: Shia LaBeouf does well as the Steven Spielberg everyman hero, but Turturro turns in an abysmal performance. I can only blame Bay because Turturro has a history of excellence while Bay has a history of box office. I’m not sure if what Megan Fox did qualified as acting. Maybe a better description would be performance art.
If you are going just for the over the top action with no care for acting or writing or a coherent plot, you’ll be happy. There are some good laughs, too. But if you want more, do not transform and roll out to your nearest streaming service.
(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.
(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)
(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so
(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)