‘Big Fucking Robots are coming’ declared the hype.
Delicate prose unfortunately just cannot do justice to the marketing juggernaut and subsequent behemoth that only a live-action Transformers could hope to represent. Twenty years ago the thought of such a titan was a fan’s pipedream – the technology just didn’t exist, but we’ve come a long way since then. With Hollywood remakes of old 80s properties in vogue, it was only a matter of time before the robots in disguise were given a make-over. You have never seen anything like this before.
When Michael Bay was announced as the director for this project (executive produced by Steven Spielberg) there was an outcry from a million geeks. How could Dreamworks entrust their beloved franchise with a director whose last outing was The Island? It never occurred to them that Bay’s pedigree included The Rock and Bad Boys. His sense of scale is incredible. Consider the idea of Transformers – in an insane world, Michael Bay is virtually the only director capable of pulling off such a high concept and orchestrate such incredible visuals and calculate untold amounts of carnage.
While Cybertron’s finest are steeped in history and come with a great deal of continuity, to ask that of an ‘origin’ picture was too much. Put under the pressure of a rabid community desperate to see a hundred vague references explored and expounded upon (and gratifyingly there are a few nods in the film to keep them happy), the only option was to strip back the characters and have them pleasing the crowd at every available opportunity. With such a large budget, to pander to a minority regardless of how vocal they are would be box-office suicide. What Bay has done is essentially turn a super-sized toy commercial into a thoroughly entertaining but nevertheless quite calculated event movie in every sense of the word.
The plot naturally takes a few liberties – the heroic Autobots have pursued a mysterious cube known as The Allspark to Earth. This geometric marvel is capable of breathing life into machines and is essentially the saviour of Transformer-kind.
Naturally the evil Decepticons have got here first, pursuing both the Allspark and their missing leader, the maniacal Megatron, who is currently entombed under government supervision. The Autobots search takes them to Sam Witwicky, a teenage boy intent on getting his first car and winning the girl whose grandfather had the location of the Allspark burned into his glasses when he discovered Megatron frozen in ice many years ago… got it?
Let’s get this straight. Bay hasn’t returned to the smart heights of previous guilty pleasures. The script is wafer thin, the story is scarcely worth mentioning, the acting is grand and full of posture without any kind of nuance and if your name isn’t Optimus Prime, Bumblebee or Megatron you’re given short shrift on screen. But you’re there for Big Fucking Robots and in that respect Bay delivers some of the most downright entertaining cinema you’ll see this year: Transformers is packed from start-to-finish with wicked cool moments. With Pirates of the Caribbean and Spider-Man 3 proving to be nothing but busted flushes, it’s strangely reassuring that someone out there has chosen to eschew any semblance of reality and make the balls-to-the-wall action film that Transformers should always be.
The robots themselves? Spectacular. Each one is seamlessly woven into the fabric of the film and looks as real as a giant talking robot can. Bay himself has even admitted that two years ago, Transformers would be impossible. And it shows in every last second of the finale, a thirty-five minute cinematic orgasm that just refuses to relent and is full of everything you bought your ticket for: Big Fucking Robots.
This is quite simply the biggest guilty pleasure this summer.
Transformers is released on July 27.