Growing up in the eighties and nineties, Transformers was a staple of my childhood. This modern movie version, full of giant machines and mechanical mayhem is directed with suitable bombast by Michael Bay, and it did exactly what it should have: it put a big grin on my face and made me feel like a ten-year-old again.
For the uninitiated, the plot concerns an alien race of transforming robots who bring their civil war to Earth. Both sides are seeking out a pair of antique glasses, in the possession of a young man, which can lead to the Allspark, a powerful artefact that brings technology to life and could create a new army of transforming robots in the wrong hands. There are plenty of explosions and lots of shouting and big fights and car chases and it all feels very juvenile but that’s the point. The effects are excellent, the budget was massive, and the scale of the film is suitably large to fit the Transformers in, but also small enough to tell the story of the human characters that sit at the heart of it.
The original gravitas-laden voice of Optimus Prime, Peter Cullen, returns from the old cartoons, though Megatron is replaced with Hugo Weaving, who ramps up the growl. The two main human characters are Shia LaBeouf’s wisecracking inbetweener, which is a part he plays well with vulnerability and wit, and Megan Fox’s mechanically-minded companion. Though initially appointed the status of ‘hot girl’, Fox is given a little to work with, though not too much, yet she draws a character out of it which is, if anything, proof she has been overlooked as an actor. Rounding out the cast are Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as soldiers with first-hand experience of fighting Transformers who embrace their macho roles, Jon Voight as a senior government figure which he can do in his sleep, and John Turturro as an off-the-wall agent for a shadowy branch of the government who appears like a whirlwind and gives everything to his wacky performance.
This is not an intelligent or highbrow film, but it is a lot of fun. For me, Transformers is quality entertainment where I can switch my brain off and enjoy two hours of escapism. Don’t think about it too much.