Transformers The Movie Retrospective part 1 of 4

Posted on June 9, 2011 by


I’ve never made much of a secret about my love for the Transformers franchise. I’ve loved it through its highs and its lows, and unlike many of the unfortunately more vocal fans, I don’t declare the entire franchise to have been RUINED FOREVER every time something new happens. I have never cried ‘Trukk not Munky!’ and while I always felt that there was much to improve upon in the recent Michael Bay films, I enjoyed them nonetheless, because, hey- giant robots.

And now, in less than a month, the third of the Bayformers trilogy, Dark of the Moon is coming, and I thought I’d talk about the first two films a bit beforehand.

So, without any ado, further or otherwise, let’s delve into Transformers: The Movie.

So, it’s 2007. I’m 17, and Transformers: The Movie has just hit cinemas. I was too young to have ever really experienced the original G1 cartoon, but I had seen some of it on Youtube, and had grown up with Beast Wars, Robots in Disguise and Armada. I knew the general mythology, I knew the characters, I even knew the in-jokes, although I was by no stretch of the imagination any sort of Guru regarding this mysterious franchise that seemed to stretch back through the eons of time itself. Like all films I can’t convince a girl to go to, I went with my dad, who could be relied upon to enjoy Giant Robots fighting each other. Yes, there had already been bitching by the ‘fans’ about things in the movie, Like Optimus Prime being a long-nosed truck (a concession for realistic sizing) or having flame decals (another concession, Red is apparently very hard to film) and the fact that while Optimus had his original Voice actor (The mighty Peter Cullen, also known for voicing Eeyore in Whinny the Pooh), industry veteran and original voice of Megatron Frank Welker had been replaced by Huge ‘Agent Elrond’ Weaving, a man well known for his distinctive vocal talents. /sarcasm.

But did I care? Hell no. Giant Robots. How much more can I say it? How could anyone possibly mess this up?

SO we open to narration, by none other than Optimus Prime himself. He fills us in on the back story, explaining, in a slightly biblical manner, that in the beginning was the cube- a life-giving macguffin known as the Allspark. He explains that while life had once been peaceful on Cybertron, there were those who craved the power the Allspark granted, and so war broke out between the Heroic Autobots and the Evil Decipticons. In order to prevent the Decipticons from winning, and bringing destruction and conquest to the galaxy, the Autobots fire the Cube off into space, where it would hopefully never be found again. One problem- It crash lands on Earth, and now everybody’s looking for it…


The movie proper begins, and we’re in Qatar in the Middle East. US Military VTOLs are flying soldiers back to base. Now, I know Michael Bay has what might be described as a fetish for the US Military, but I’m sure it’s going to be fine. We’re introduced to several of the soldiers in a way that is not at all clichéd (they’re all talking about things back home, I think they might all be about to die. Oh, one of them’s talking about his baby. He is so dead. Another one is Hispanic. He’s dead too. Oh, didn’t I mention? Michael Bay’s a racist, too).

Ethnically diverse

Our hero. I hope...

They land (In a very protracted sequence of shots of the aircraft that make me wonder if Bay’s just getting off on this) and all go off to do whatever. The handsome Captain Lennox (I think he might be the hero. He’s good looking, funny, and must be a capable soldier. Who better to help the Autobots?) suddenly develops a kid sidekick.

I genuinely couldn't get a less suggestive screencap

But enough of that, let’s see something cool!

Damn it, Bay, this is not your personal wank bank!

Fortunately for us, it turns out that this Helicopter can’t exist. It bears the markings of a bird shot down some time ago, and there’s no radio response. The big gruff guy in charge tells a soldier to check again if the helicopter really did go down. “I did sir, friend of mine was on that chopper” says the soldier. A line I’m sure has never been used before in any other war movie. Hmm. Some jets are dispatched to escort the ‘copter to the base. This doesn’t bode well.

And Oh, no! Lennox is talking to his wife over webcam. Also it’s night now. But his wife’s holding up his baby girl. Oh Lennox, you are dead meat, sir. Not sure if that’s a bad thing, though. So far this is kinda boring.

The Helicopter’s landed. Boring.


Hey, what’s up with the pil- holy crap!

That's not good

Finally, a giant Robot! Okay, 6 minutes in isn’t bad. At least it’s not like Jaws, waiting an hour before we see anything cool. The helicopter robot proceeds to blow stuff up in no uncertain fashion, and amazingly, Lennox and his chums manage to escape. During the attack, Black Soldier gets a photograph of the Robot, and the Robot tries to hack the US military network, and he jettisons a little robot… scorpian, thing. So, he blows stuff up some more and then we cut to- oh, I have a bad feeling about this.

The Uber-dork

Oh god. Oh, god, no. He’s the Hero, isn’t he? Even Steven’s the Hero? Never mind, here’s some eye candy.

She was totally hired for her acting skills

Also, Taub’s his teacher. I wonder if Doctor House is in this, too.Well, the dork’s name is Sam Witwicky. Besides trying to hock his possessions to his classmates for money when he should be doing a report, he fills in some more back story. IN 1897, his Grandfather, Archibald Witwicky (possessor of an awesome beard) took a ship to the arctic circle, because why not.

seriously, look at this guy. He's so cool, his beard is made of ice.

Then Sam starts talking about grandfathers glasses. I’m sure those wont be important.

Not important at all.

Sam blackmails Taub into giving him an A for his non-existent project because his dad Promised to buy him a car if he got three A’s. I wish my dad was so lenient. I’d be lucky to get a car if I was the messiah. Also, his dad turns out to be a dick, teasing him that’s going to buy Sam a Porsche before taking him to a second hand dealer that might as well be a junk yard. Racism ensues a little bit. Sam ponders cars for a little bit, before finding one he really likes.

One of these looks familiar.

The Yellow Camaro is Bumblebee. The car dealer, despite having never seen him before, tries to sell him for $5000. Sam’s dad wont go over $4000. So Bumblebee, the salesman that he is, promptly destroys every other car with a sonic blast. Suddenly, the dealer is all too happy to get rid of the strange yellow and black car. Way to destroy someones livelihood, Bee.

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C, things are actually happening. Computer experts from all around the US are being drafted to examine the alien signals recorded from the attack on the base in Qatar. Jon Voight is the secretary of Defense. Finally, someone in the white House got something right. He says there were no survivors. Huh, I guess Lennox didn’t get out. That’s what you get for talking about your baby, dude.

And then we’re back with Sam. Damnit. We are not going to get rid of this kid, are we? It turns out his Mother is insane. She puts jewellery on his dog. Well, with any luck we wont be seeing much of her. Sam goes off in Bumblebee to crash a lake party. He brings along his friend, a comic-relief character who manages to be even more dorky than he is. So wait a minute, so far the soldiers have at least 1 comic relief guy, the car dealer was racist comic relief, Sam’s parents have no other possible reason to exist besides comic relief. Am I watching an action movie or a teen comedy? There had better not be any Apple Pie n this flick.

But hey, to help us get the horrible taste of Shia Labeouf out of our mouths, the Soldiers did survive, yay! They apparently even rescued the kid sidekick, too. Because this action movie hasn’t had an action scene in nearly 20 minutes, They get attacked by the Scorpion robot thing, which promptly skewers nerd-soldier. Oh, and Hispanic soldier thinks he’s psychic. Didn’t see that coming, though, didya?

Meanwhile, Sam strikes out with hot chick Mikaela (Megan Fox), who might as well be named ‘Fanservice’.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Meanwhile, a Decepticon spy has infiltrated Air Force 1, which is carrying a thinly veiled parody of George Dubya Bush around. The spy is called Frenzy, a tiny robot who turns into a stereo. He is another comic relief character.

Now, in this day and age, if your movie needs even one character in it whose job is solely to act as comic relief, you’re not a great writer. When your movie has more comic relief characters than straight characters, maybe you should consider a career change.

Frenzy successfully hacks the US military network on the plane. (How!? Does Bay seriously think every classified file the US has is backed up on Air Force 1?)


When Air Force 1 lands, Frenzy escapes into Barricade, another Decepticon, who has disguised himself as a police car (IRONY!). One thing I will say for Bay, at least he gave the robots the ability to make holographic drivers/pilots when they’re in their vehicles modes, so at least they don’t look weird. Also, all of the Decepticon Holograms have porn ‘staches. Hmm. Frenzy reveals that he has found a clue to the Allspark. That can’t be good.