The Earth has become a battleground. Centuries ago, on a distant planet, the robotic alien races known as the Autobots and the Decepticons waged terrible war over a powerful cube called the All Spark. The cube was lost and both races vowed to find it. Now the cube has come to rest on Earth, hidden away by the US government for years, and the final stand of the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) against the Decepticons, led by Megatron (voice of Hugo Weaving) will take place on our planet. But the Autobots have an ally: humans.
Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is just an ordinary teenager. He wants good grades, a girlfriend, and above all, a cool car. Imagine his surprise when his slightly used Carrera turns out to be Bumblebee, one of the Autobots, and thus it turns out that Sam is far from ordinary. He is the last hope for the Autobots and possibly for all mankind, the only person who can help them in their battle. As the US military and top scientists prepare for a cataclysmic confrontation with the Decepticons, Sam and his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) race against time to help the Autobots locate the All Spark before Megatron does.
Morally, there are many nods to courage, honor, and friendship. The Decepticons show no mercy towards the human race, viewing us as pathetic and worthless, and despise the Autobots for defending us. Even one of the Autobots questions the wisdom of protecting humans, saying that we are generally cruel and prone to violence. Optimus Prime responds by saying that he sees much good in us, and that, as a race, man is young and has much to learn, but they must be given the chance. Self-sacrifice is praised through the phrase “no sacrifice, no victory,” and several times throughout, the Autobots risk (and in a few cases, lose) their lives for the humans and Sam, and others constantly do the same for them.
Violence is heavy, but very unrealistic and stylized. Cars and other machinery explode and are thrown around like so much confetti, and property damage to buildings is extreme, but what does one expect from a Michael Bay film? (“Armageddon,” “Pearl Harbor,” “The Island”) The Decepticons toss humans about like rag dolls, making the body count large, but not graphically so. One Decepticon does impale a soldier with a spike. Humans and robots fire missiles at each other in more ways imaginable, resulting in massive explosions, and robots clash with one another in bone-crushing battles. In spite of all this, very little or no blood is seen.
Language includes several mentions of the s-word, quite a few misuses the Lord’s name and other milder profanities. There is no sex per se, but Sam and Mikaela kiss passionately against his car. At other times, the camera lingers on Mikaela’s body, and her clothing is usually revealing of both midriff and cleavage. There are several mild sexual innuendoes and an awkward moment when Sam’s parents think they’ve caught him masturbating (he wasn’t). Sam’s dog relieves himself on a man’s shoe, and one of the Autobots sprays a kind of oil from his groin in an obvious visual joke.
That said, the true center of the film is the special effects, and these truly are extraordinary. “Transformers” is a have-to-see on the big screen. Seriously, if you are going to see it at all, that is where you need to see it. Everything, from the spectacular battle sequences to the miniscule details of the Autobots’ shiny features, top almost anything seen so far this year. Of course, no film is complete without the human factor, and “Transformers” has that. LeBeouf holds himself well, but he is supported by a cast including Jon Voight, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Rachael Taylor, and Tyrese Gibson, who, while not given a whole lot to do, manage to make the most of their screen time. The many voices of the Autobots lend true human emotion to cold steel. Only Megan Fox seems to be there to provide more “eye-candy,” where no more is actually needed.
At moments, while watching the movie, I felt like I did when I first saw the dinosaurs of “Jurassic Park,” when I said that nothing like this has ever been seen before. I felt like a boy again. I was reminded of the days when I took Legos and built mechanical wonders out of them. At least, I thought they were mechanical wonders. Fans of science fiction and action will not be displeased, and neither, I think, will fans of Transformers. For by the end of the film, I felt like a little kid in the movie, who, upon seeing the Autobots for the first time, exclaims, “Cool, mom!”