When the words "Michael Bay" and "director" are together in the same sentence, there are certain expectations about how a movie will turn out. This is both a good and bad thing. Bay (The Island, Bad Boys II) is a visual director; plot is not his strength. For Bay to take the helm of Transformers is a dream come true for any fans of the original cartoon or toys. Bay brings these old toys to life with amazing special effects and intense action sequences, just as one would expect him to. And, just as one would expect, plot is not the strong point. However, this movie comes out in the heat of the summer movie season, where plot is typically an afterthought anyway.
The script by Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Mission Impossible II, The Legend of Zorro) and John Rogers (Catwoman, The Core) focuses on Sam Witwicky (Shia Labeouf, Surf's Up, Disturbia), a nerdy kid at school. Witwicky's dad agreed to fund half the cost of a car if Witwicky can come up with the other half and get a good grade in class. The result is a yellow 1974 Chevrolet Camaro that breaks down often and seems to have a mind of its own. Meanwhile, USAF Tech Sgt. Epps (Tyrese Gibson, Waist Deep, Annapolis), Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel, Turistas, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!) and their soldiers in Qatar deal with a vicious unknown attacker.
Bay and his screenwriters weave together separate stories, including one involving hacker/computer expert Maggie Madsen (Rachael Taylor, See No Evil) to give a sense of breadth and anticipation. In the case of Witwicky, it also serves to give the audience time to get to know the underdog hero of the story, so people will want to root for him. It takes a bit too long for things to get moving (the movie is probably half an hour too long), as people just want to see big robots fighting and changing into cars. But once Bay does get things moving, the pace is relentless.
The transformers are from another planet, and consist of the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen, Pooh's Heffalump Movie, Piglet's Big Movie) and Decepticons, led by Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving, Happy Feet, V for Vendetta). The two groups have been warring for a long time, and are searching for an ancient artifact that holds the key to winning the war. But all of this falls by the wayside. The thing that most people want to know is - how cool do these robots look? As previously mentioned, Bay and his team do a great job. The robots are imposing, and with the marvel of modern CGI effortlessly change from cars, helicopters, tanks, and jets into towering robots ready to wreak havoc (well, or prevent the wreaking of havoc). Other things thrown into the mix like a lame sequence involving the Autobots hiding from Witwicky's parents, and some attempts at slang by Optimus Prime fall short. But the last battle sequences of Transformers are exhilarating, and enough to make people forget how little of anything else there is in this film. Bay wants his audience to have fun while watching the movie. And for him, fun means large scale action sequences, transforming robots causing mayhem, the military, and hot women (two of them in fact). Transformers is a fun movie. One full of plot holes, but fun nonetheless.