I hate the Transformer sequels. They are so bloated and stupid and lame and boring. They are the equivalent of a child banging a drum set for three hours while loaded on pixie sticks. I can’t stand them. Some people like “Dark Of The Moon,” and that’s fine, but I am not a fan of those sequels. But the first “Transformers?” I unironically love the first “Transformers.” I loved it when I saw it in theaters when I was 12 years old, and I still love it today. With that said, I’m not sure if it’s purposefully good. Steven Spielberg, the executive producer on this one, said that he wanted the first “Transformers” to be a movie about a boy and his car. That’s not really how I view this thing.
This film falls under the category of “accidentally charming,” in my opinion. It’s not a movie about a boy and his car, necessarily. What it is is the best movie ever made by a 13-year-old. As I said, I saw this movie when I was 12, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever, and when you’re a 12-year-old boy, that makes sense. When you’re into adolescence, the most fantastic fantasy you can think of is you on an adventure with a bunch of alien robots, explosions, cool cars, and riding shotgun next to one of the most beautiful women in the world. I have a hard time believing that Michael Bay intended to make the most excellent movie ever by a 13-year-old. I don’t think Michael Bay is intelligent enough of a filmmaker to include things like charm and nuance, but his lack of restraint somehow works in this movie.
The Transformers sequels are so obnoxious with their humor. But for whatever reason, I find the first “Transformers” to be a funny movie. Maybe it’s just me wearing nostalgia goggles, but I like the comedy in this. I find it amusing. Of course, it’s one big cartoon, but “Transformers” started as a goddamn cartoon. It was one big toy commercial, and I know it had serious moments, but so does this movie. And while he has since become a controversial figure in Hollywood, when you watch this movie, you see why Shia LaBeouf became one of the biggest actors in the world for some time. He’s undeniably fun in this and carries the movie as the avatar for the audience on this crazy adventure.
As critical as I am of movies, I’m not someone who lives under the belief that there is a one size fits all approach to help you evaluate film. I think movies are an emotionally driven art form. You can love something and acknowledge all of its flaws. It comes down to feel, and I feel like the first “Transformers” is a freaking awesome movie. Does it speak to me on an emotional level? Absolutely not, though that “No sacrifice, no victory” moment in the end with Optimus prime is pretty damn cool. Sometimes even the silliest movie in the world can just be cool, and that’s how I feel about the first “Transformers.”
There is one thing about this movie that I view to be objectively true. And that is that it features some of the greatest CG in film history. I can’t believe that a movie from 2007 looks this good. That’s not to say that CG wasn’t good before 2007. I mean, “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” came out in 1991, and that still looks amazing, but it is truly incredible how well the effects in this movie hold up. The fact that "The Golden Compass" beat this movie in the Best Visual Effects category is further proof that the Oscars have no idea what they're talking about.
Nostalgia blinds everything. It is hard for me to recommend the first “Transformers” to somebody who didn’t grow up around that time period. It’s probably the most 2007 movie that every 2007’d. It’s a staple of its time, which lends credence to my theory that this movie is accidentally charming. It’s not a movie that is moving or meaningful. But I think so many movies nowadays escape the idea of fun. This movie is fun. Let’s get back to that. Even at its worst, this film never feels passionless. I love it, even if others don’t.