Now this is more like it.
“Transformers” is the quintessential summer blockbuster - full of nonstop action, sly humor and eye-popping special effects that easily distance it from the rest of the crowded pack of big-budget must-sees.
In a summer overloaded with way too many disappointing sequels, here is an original (despite the fact that it's based on an '80s TV series) where the “wow” factor is pretty much achieved at every turn.
For those unfamiliar with the back story, “Transformers” is a basic good vs. evil story with robot aliens from the planet Cybertron capable of morphing into cars, tanks, helicopters, even boomboxes.
Their war reaches new heights when the noble Autobots arrive, trying to stop the Decepticons from gaining control of a mysterious cube that crash landed on Earth more than 150 years ago.
The quest for the cube begins in the desert of Qatar, but eventually leads to a teenage boy named Sam (Shia LaBeouf) - who may have the key to the cube's location - and ultimately the fate of Earth - in his hands.
While the plot for “Transformers” is pretty simple, the film is a complex creation, with several subplots evolving before finally coming together in a rousing final battle sequence.
LaBeouf, who will likely be a household name - if he wasn't already - by the end of the summer, heads a strong cast. Megan Fox is the perfect choice as the female eye candy, while Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson and John Turturro all have nice supporting roles that enhance the film's overall entertainment.
But the real stars of “Transformers” are the CGI'd robots - all part of some amazing special effects that are sure to bring the kid out of every audience member.
Director Michael Bay (“The Rock” and “Armageddon”) proves to be the perfect director for this testosterone-filled cocktail, expertly balancing the film's impressive special effects with the occasional injection of humor (one of the evil robots morphs into a police car that says “To destroy and enslave” instead of “To protect and serve”). And Bay's trademark slow-motion fight sequence has never looked better.
I will concede that “Transformers” - clocking in at a mammoth 140 minutes - is probably about 20 minutes too long and some of the dialogue should be sponsored by Cheez Whiz, but it's a small complaint. After all, it's not like you walk into this film expecting “A Mighty Heart.” This is nothing more than a moving funhouse, where you can put the brain on autopilot and just enjoy the show.
Just say “I don't”
Also opening this week is “License to Wed” (D), a sad romantic comedy that stretches its razor-thin premise to unimaginably painful new heights.
Mandy Moore and John Krasinski play Ben and Sadie, a happy young couple about to get married. But before the couple can get to the altar, they have to pass a marriage preparation course designed by the unorthodox reverend of Sadie's church, Frank (Robin Williams).
“Wed” is essentially nothing more than an avenue for Williams to deliver his trademark manic shtick. While I'll admit there are a few moments that deliver a mild chuckle (Williams using a game show-like approach to teach children the Ten Commandments is slightly funny), but for the most part the jokes fall flat and the result is rather bland.
Krasinski isn't dynamic enough to carry his end of the film, while Moore follows up the dreadful “Because I Said So” with another performance that drastically fails to use her talents.
There are other supporting characters thrown in to pad the 90-minute running time, including Josh Flitter as a young boy who is content with being Frank's protégé, but for the most part they are all just caricatures in a movie that lacks any depth or surprise. Even director Ken Kwapis (who directed “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and several episodes of TV's “The Office”) seems bored by it all, more focused on just letting Williams do his thing than he is trying to save a film that had little hope to begin with.
“License to Wed” is rated PG-13 for sexual humor and language and is playing at the Great Escape 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.