By Leonard Martinez / El Paso Times
El Paso TimesArticle Launched:07/02/2007 09:09:35 AM MDTThis review must start with a disclaimer.
I'm an unabashed Transformers fan.
As a whippersnapper in the 1980s, the plastic robots were my Teddy bears, never leaving my side.
Ask me about Rodimus Prime, a cherished Transformer that I lost at Dudley Field, and my eyes will mist.
So when I heard about the live-action "Transformers" movie, I was skeptical. Could the revered icons of my youth be portrayed with appropriate honor and gravitas without the film devolving into an embarrassing kiddie cheese-fest?
I was wrong for ever doubting the talents of director Michael Bay. "Transformers," which opens today, is justified in winning the odd MTV Movie Award "Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet."
Transformers are a race of alien robots, divided among the good Autobots and evil Decepticons. Their battle on their home planet of Cybertron ended as all good battles should, with the planet being blown to smithereens.
Blessed with an ability to transform from vehicles to monstrous bipedal beasts of metal, the Transformers bring their beef and shameless GM product-placement campaign to Earth. They seek a mysterious energy cube that could save their race, or maybe just blow up Earth.
Bay's films are known for explosions that rattle the eardrums and send actors flying in slow motion toward the camera. "Transformers" is no different.
The first 10 minutes of the film - featuring White Sands and Holloman Air Force Base as a base in Qatar in the Middle East -delivers more action than the entire "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," or "Silver Snoozer," as I like to call it.
And despite the high concept, the plot was remarkably free of the kinds of holes that sent the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels to a watery grave.
"Transformers" is not just a geek film or two-hour commercial for Hasbro.
It's got action, humor and even a little bit of a love story.
Guys will like the cars and trucks and the Spooky C-130 that unloads its howitzer on a scorpion-like enemy. Girls will like watching sweaty and dirty Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson fly toward the camera as explosions erupt in the background.
There are humorous moments that even grandma will enjoy, such as Autobot Bumblebee helping hero Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) win over hottie Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox).
Bumblebee - a yellow classic Camaro early in the film - has studied human nature and knows how to facilitate a makeout session. Two words: Marvin Gaye.
Banes unwittingly insults Bumblebee's old-school exterior, and the sensitive machine tosses them on the street. He returns minutes later as the new Chevy Camaro being released this year. Somewhere, GM executives cheer.
Sector 7, the secret government agency in charge of investigating alien encounters, provides some funny moments with an assortment of high-strung and out-of-control agents.
Bay's films also are known for having fantastic car-chase scenes, so he had to top those.
He promised a car-chase-robot transformation at 80 mph, and he delivered it in all it's rubber-squealing, gear-grinding, glass-smashing glory.
The only thing that was missing from making this a true Michael Bay film was a montage, but that's OK.
When you make the best film of the summer, you're allowed at least one mistake.
"Transformers" is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humor and language. Leonard Martinez may be reached at [email protected]