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Vol. LXI, No. 28
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

AND I THOUGHT I WAS JUST BUYING MY FIRST CAR: Sam (Shia LeBeouf, right) and his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) look on in amazement as Sam's yellow Camaro morphs into an Autobot in order to fight with an evil Decepticon as part of the war to prevent the Decepticons from taking over Earth.

Transformers: Morphing Robots Square-Off in Computer Generated Adventure

Kam Williams

First introduced by the toy company Hasbro in 1984, Transformers are toy robots which masquerade as everyday items, such as cars, planes, and animals. The morphing action figures were so popular that they generated an animated TV series and Marvel comic books. To this day Hasbro continues to introduce new additions to the product line every year.

Transformers were first brought to the big screen in 1986, but that version was a cartoon which did little more than cash in on the television show's appeal by serving as a bridge between the show's second and third seasons. The 2007 edition, by contrast, is a Michael Bay spectacular and has an array of impressive computer generated special effects.

The film will be appreciated by fans already familiar with the Transformer franchise, however, the picture features far too many automatons for the uninitiated to keep track of. In addition, the film has a large number of human characters.

Fortunately, a simplistic good-versus-evil plot makes it easy to keep track of the characters. In 25 words or less, the adventure's story reads like this: two competing races of robots, the virtuous Autobots and the evil Decepticons, have arrived on Earth from the planet Cybertron in search of the Allspark, a powerful life force which can unlock the secrets of the universe. One side is bent on world domination, the other on preserving the planet.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), has unwittingly been enlisted to assist the latter group of transformers. He is a teenager, with a new girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox), who has just purchased his first car; a classic Camaro, unaware that it is really an Autobot.

The cast also includes Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as soldiers who survive a Decepticon attack while stationed in Qatar, Jon Voight as the U.S. Secretary of Defense, John Turturro as Agent Simmons, Anthony Anderson as computer hacker Glen Whitmann, and Bernie Mac as used car salesman Bobby Bolivia.

In light of the recent Don Imus affair, the dialogue between black male and black female characters is very disturbing and distracting. For instance, Bobby Bolivia denigrates his mother by calling her "Mammy," and when she responds, he says, "If I had a rock, I'd bust your head …." Glen Whitmann, without provocation, berates his grandmother in a scene apparently included for nothing more than comic relief.

I'm willing to give the movie a pass in this regard only because it was undoubtedly completed well before the Imus scandal occurred. I hope that these seasoned comedians, who probably improvised their offensive lines, will look for laughs elsewhere in the future.

In spite of this shortcoming, Transformers is a Michael Bay extravaganza which gets this critic's approval because it succeeds in bringing familiar Transformer robots to life in a series of epic battles worthy of a summer blockbuster. Better check your I.Q. and political correctness at the refreshment counter, however, if you want to enjoy this mindless exercise in misogyny.

Excellent (3½ stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity, brief sexual humor, and intense sci-fi violence. Running time: 144 minutes. Studio: Paramount Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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