"Action on Steroids"
What You Need To Know:
TRANSFORMERS is action on steroids. The storyline effectively uses the cartoon history given to it. Michael Bay, Stephen Spielberg and the writers have enriched the story with very clearly stated moral, redemptive and heroic elements. Regrettably, the movie also has references to Zen Buddhism, science fiction creation stories with a humanist perspective, a dualistic view of good and evil, implied teenage sexuality, and plenty of mostly lightweight foul language. Also, the ending is a little weak and runs on too long. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children and young teenagers.
(BB, CC, H, Pa, Ev, AP, PP, LLL, VV, S, DD, M) Strong moral worldview with overt Christian references but with science fiction mechanistic, dualistic view of the creation of the universe and of the source of good and evil, with evolutionary comments and a reference to Zen Buddhism, tempered by many references to laying down your life for others, doing the right thing, trying to be obedient (though there are some rebellious tensions), being respectful (though there is some talking back to those in authority at first), an overt reference to “what would Jesus do” as well as overt prayers, plus some humor poking fun at the President and some authority and some distrust of government balanced by a “save the country” theme and many positive government figures and soldiers; 19 obscenities, 11 light profanities (mostly “Oh, God”), mother and father discuss masturbation, and dog relieves himself on robot and robot copies dog’s action on mean guy; lots of action violence but with very little blood, such as hand to hand combat, shootings, knifings, beatings, garrotings, explosions, battle scenes with gunfire and missiles launching, and robots chase people and each other, and robots crash into and destroy objects; some sexual innuendo and a lot of heavy double entendre, mention of teenage sexuality, teen phones message to parents about ignoring girlie magazines under his bed, and one serious kissing scene between teenagers lying on hood of car, but nothing explicit; no nudity but skimpily dressed girls and some female cleavage, including a swimsuit pinup poster; alcohol use; no smoking, but comical references to taking drugs when policeman finds pills for teenager’s injured dog on teenager’s person; and, several instances of stealing including a young computer expert copies a mysterious computer signal the defense department is working on to get her hacker friend’s help in analyzing it, lots of government secrets, and several cover-ups, but in almost every case the moral position is put forth in a dramatic way.
TRANSFORMERS is action on steroids. It is the type of summer popcorn big budget action movie that young people seek, and, from that perspective, it is one of the best action movies so far. That does not mean it’s perfect, but it is a fun roller coaster ride.
The movie starts telling the audience the history of these mechanical beings known as Transformers. They were created by the Cube containing the All Spark, which existed before time began and created the universe, the Transformers and their planet. These robots had an idyllic advanced planet, but a war with the evil Decepticons destroyed the planet, and only a handful of good Transformers, or Autobots, survived. Now, they are chasing through time and space to find and employ the lost All Spark Cube that the bad Transformers want to use to control the universe and the good Transformers want to use to rebuild their planet.
All roads on this quest lead to Earth. Evidently, Megatron, the evil leader of the Decepticons came to Earth many years ago to find the All Spark. He was frozen in the Arctic wasteland. A map of where the All Spark and the Cube are has been imprinted on the glasses of an Arctic explorer. The grandson of that explorer is a somewhat nerdy Sam, played brilliantly by Shia Le Boeuf.
Sam’s entrance into the story begins when he is telling about his grandfather the Arctic explorer to his science class. If Sam gets an A in the class, his father will buy him a car. However, Sam is hawking his grandfather’s Arctic mementoes and totally distracted by Mikaela, the most beautiful girl in the class, who, of course, is in the company of the most handsome, arrogant football player. When the professor tells Sam he got a B, Sam pleads with him and asks, “What would Jesus do?” Moved by Sam’s story, the professor gives him an A Minus, and Sam heads with his father to the used car lot.
There, the fast-talking used car salesman tells Sam that the right car will choose Sam. Of course, it does, because the car is also an Autobot trying to protect Sam from the Decepticons, who are trying to find the glasses with the secret message etched onto them.
Meanwhile, the evil Decepticons have attacked an American base in Qatar, so they can hack into the government computers to find the secret glasses. The American commander goes down after cutting the power to the computer.
So, the setup is that everybody is trying to get Sam, and Sam teams up with the beautiful Mikaela who is more than just a pretty face. Evidently, she’s a master mechanic, which comes in handy when trying to work with the Transformers.
Needless to say, everyone finds out the clues and pursues each other to the Nevada location of the All Spark Cube, whereupon an intergalactic battle takes place with the future of Earth at stake.
The storyline of TRANSFORMERS effectively uses the cartoon history given to it. Michael Bay, Stephen Spielberg and the writers have enriched the story with very clearly stated moral, redemptive and heroic elements. For example, there are references to laying down your life for others, caring for others, what would Jesus do, and some overt prayers.
In spite of that, the movie also has references to Zen Buddhism, science fiction creation stories with a humanist perspective and a dualistic view of good and evil, implied teenage sexuality, a significant but not abundant or very strong amount of foul language, and lots of eye candy. Also, the ending is a little weak and drags, because Michael Bay, the screenwriters and the production run out of steam and don’t know how to bring their movie to one big climactic conclusion.
Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children and young teenagers. With a little editing and a stronger biblical perspective, TRANSFORMERS could have been a superb movie. As it is, the movie is still very entertaining and compelling, though the high-octane action wears out its welcome a little bit at the end.