Transformers (2007) Review

The first Transformers movie came out in a different time. A time where a movie designed to do nothing but sell toys and make cool visuals wasn’t so ashamed of doing that; and the fact it wore that on it’s sleeve levelled the playing field between itself and it’s audience. Now days – and indeed with the later Transformers films – things are a bit different. While it’s still obvious modern Transformers movies exist to make money and nothing else, they hide behind this pretentious notion that they are something other than advertisements. And I do think this seemingly small difference makes a keen distinction between the 2007 film and it’s sequels.

That difference amounts to the 2007 film feeling like a pretty solid, if crude, action blockbuster, while the cynical nature of the franchise is relegated only to it’s sequels. This shows in other aspects of the film too; this isn’t a movie about going set-piece to set-piece as much as you might think. There is a pretty hefty set up with good – and often funny – character moments, as well as those that just allow for the tension in the film to grow. Compared to everything afterwards, there’s also some style and flair on show here; that meaning that you can look at this film and occasionally think ‘this was filmed this way for a reason’, as opposed to the sequels where you think ‘there’s no imagination behind any of this’. It is so odd how one of the most cynical franchises in Hollywood had, what I consider to be, an imperfect but solid foundation that does feel as though it had care put into it.

Which is why it’s a shame there isn’t much interesting to say about this film except for that. This film may not have dated visually, but contextually it couldn’t be more irrelevant. The franchise it spawned, money it garnered over many years, and the effort clearly present in this first instalment… All lost in the wind now.

I don’t think it’s 100% on the direction the franchise took that this is the case, however. The stars of this movie – Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox – own life dramas both directly and inadvertently taint this picture and move the spotlight onto the films that followed. Shia LaBeouf’s incredibly bizarre celebrity journey through movies, online media and then more seriously into his arrests and the death of his career is just as tragic as it strangely eerie. I’m honestly not completely caught up on him, but the whole thing is a mess to say the least. Then there’s Megan Fox who said a whole bunch of unsavoury things about franchise director Michael Bay. These things ranged from insulting him based on his style of direction, and all the way to accusing him of sexualising underage girls in his movies… An accusation that, for anyone who dug through the franchise long enough to discover Age of Extinction, seems to hold true.

I guess the best way to describe Transformers is as a time capsule. A time capsule that is more fascinating than it has any right being. And in that spirit, I suppose this post is closer to being a retrospective than a review. Because what is there to say about Transformers, other than it’s an okay action film without all this behind the scenes stuff, and relevant context?

I suppose the action is good. But then it has to be, because that’s why you watch a Transformers film. Okay… I further suppose that the action isn’t as boring as in it’s sequels; there’s weight, impact and creativity in the set pieces. My favourite action scene is soldiers fighting a giant scorpion in the desert – a scene that doesn’t even really involve Transformers. After that, I suppose the opening when the helicopter baddie attacks the army base. It was creative opening with a good build-up, that sets up the menace the baddies pose.

I will admit to having a little bias towards this film. As a kid it was always one of my favourites – it being aimed right at me, and all – and my present day weakness for schlock that involves giant things fighting each other make me very susceptible to being forgiving to this type of film.

So, in spite of it all, I would recommend Transformers. I think even if you don’t like it, you’ll at the very least be able to say ‘yes, it is weird how low quality the sequels are by comparison‘. But then again, is it really worth watching a two and a half hour movie for that? In truth, the only people I can see genuinely enjoying this movie today are those like me, who grew up on it and can’t help but link it’s existence to the positive connotations of being a child. Because I didn’t grow up on the animated series, this is all based on or the toy line. No, I grew up on this; Bumblebee urinating on John Tutturo.

I’ll be ranking the Transformers films as I review them. The first and only ranking of the series so far can be found below.

  1. Transformers (2007)

7 thoughts on “Transformers (2007) Review

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  1. I just loved Anthony Lane’s review of this, where he said Optimus Prime sounded like an oily-palmed curate out of Trollope. Also liked the fight Roger Ebert got into with fanboys saying he was elitist in not liking it. He basically said he really was older and wiser than they were.

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  2. I personally didn’t think there needed to be the presence of the military in the films. I prefer robots fighting robots. Then again I am an avid Transformers fan.

    Sadly, Megan Fox’s character is nothing but eye candy. Okay, she can hotwire cars and is a mechanic so hey that’s pretty cool but it feels like Bay made her dress skimpy while she was doing it. It seems that she didn’t agree with that decision. Shia’s character was also annoying so therefore I’m just here for Autobots against Decepticons.

    I did get into Transformers through these films but overtime I realized Bay cared more about blowing things up, adding sex bombs to distract viewers (the more I realize this, the less I dislike Megan Fox, and my hatred shifts towards Bay) and eventually deteriorating the personality the Autobots and Decepticons are known for which is seen in the sequels.

    Optimus became my favorite and influenced me of his compassion and a strong sense of justice and desire for peace and freedom but Bay decided to turn him into a ruthless killing machine in the later films which broke my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with everything you say. I almost wrote it all in this review but saved it. The next review I do will address the army, sexualisation and excess explosions as I think it’s a better case study for those things. But you’re 100% right in my eyes. That its toned down by Bay standards still makes this movje enjoyable to me though

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      1. These movies had a lot of potential if they toned down the military, explosions, sexualization, and oh, not to mention excess humans taking up the plot rather than the Transformers themselves. You can tell these movies were made by someone who doesn’t know the franchise very well, like where is the Energon? A lot of conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons revolves around finding Energon since it’s scarce on other planets.

        That being said, on a positive note, one thing I do like about the movies is the score, Steve Jablonsky did a great job composing the music and even though I don’t really watch the Bay films anymore, I still have a soft spot for the score and I must be the only one who doesn’t have an issue with Optimus’s design, like him having a face with a mouth and nose and all, HOWEVER, I did not like how the robots broke easily *cough* *cough* ripping Jazz in half effortlessly. Anyway, sorry I got ranty, I’ve been a passionate Transformers fan for years.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well yeah that’s because you don’t know Optimus that well yet 😉 but the way he really is he is more of a paragon character who wouldn’t kill someone in cold blood. That is why today the older series, books, and video games show the way he was always meant to be. I guess Bay just wanted to make a popcorn action flick of the summer and more violence was better, I cannot forgive him.

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