REEL CRITICS -- DOUBLE TAKE:'Transformers' changes into a robo-flop

Director Michael Bay gives us a live-action version of "Transformers" based on the popular action toys that came out in the '80s. Like most of Bay's previous efforts, ("Armageddon," "The Rock," "Bad Boys," "Pearl Harbor") there's lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Giant robots have come to earth from outer space that can shape-shift into cars, trucks, cell phones, etc. and back again. The bad robots (Autobots) seek world domination and the good robots (Decepticons) don't want any humans harmed. And they all check out the listings on eBay (looking for cheap spare parts, no doubt).

"Transformers" is all over the map, literally, and Bay has thrown in everything but the iPhone in a mix of ridiculous story lines, like the Department of Defense woman who's the only one to detect the Autobots' hacking into their systems. She must be wearing magic lip gloss.

Only Shia LaBeouf ("Disturbia"), Kevin Dunn and Julie White seem capable of injecting any real personality into the movie as reluctant teenage hero Sam Witwicky and his baffled parents.

If you can enjoy two-plus hours of mindless destruction and bombast, then this is the movie for you. But if you're waiting for it to morph into something fresh and exciting, you're better off taking a trip to the toy store.

  • SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.
  • Endless action, shameless product placement

    Director Michael Bay is known for head-banging action-adventure flicks. In "Transformers" he injects the cute robot toys of the 80s with megadoses of testosterone and violence to push the envelope of the PG-13 rating to the max.

    The results will surely appeal to the target audience of male teenage video gamers.

    Producer Steven Spielberg has tempered Bay's excess to some extent. There are a few quiet moments and sharp humor in the screenplay.

    Every man can smile at the basic premise of a teenage boy who buys an old Camaro that turns into an awesome shape-shifting robot who becomes his secret friend. The bio-robot helps attract girls while joining his pals in their fight against the evil robots intent on destroying all humans.

    However, shameless product placement for General Motors appears in almost every scene. There may be a cute story and top-notch production values in this film, but in the end it's all about heavy-metal special effects with mind-crunching music and juvenile dialogue.

    At more than two hours, the massive smack-down between dueling King Kong robots goes on way too long.

  • JOHN DEPKO is a Costa Mesa resident and a senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office.
  • Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
    EDITION: California | U.S. & World