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TRANSFORMERS

SYNOPSIS:
For centuries, two races of robotic aliens - the Autobots and the Decepticons - have waged a war, with the fate of the universe at stake. When the battle comes to Earth, all that stands between the evil Decepticons and total power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). An average teenager, Sam is consumed with everyday worries about school, friends, cars and girls. Unaware that he alone is mankind's last chance for survival, Sam and his friend Mikaela (Megan Fox) find themselves in a tug of war between the Autobots and Decepticons. With the world hanging in the balance, Sam comes to realise the true meaning behind the Witwicky family motto - "No sacrifice, no victory!"

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If the whoops and clapping during the premiere at Sydney's Entertainment Quarter is anything to go by, Transformers has hit its mark among young people, especially young males, and most especially among those who are fascinated by the Transformer concept - and of course among those who work in or aspire to working in (or just love watching) digital effects. (For those who don't know, the Transformer concept takes the shape of (usually) a car which can be transformed into a robotic figure.)

In the film, these robots - the evil Decepticons and the goodie Autobots - are coming to Earth from outer space to find the source of ultimate power, which is in the possession of nerdy teenager Sam (Shia LABoeuf). So far the plot is more or less coherent (with help from the press notes), but then it transforms itself into a whirling, catapulting, multi-faceted affair that defies adult understanding.

Matters are made more obscure by the filmmaking style, in which robotic fights are staged with such ferocity and so little context that we lose the plot. Shia LaBoeuf and Megan Fox appeal to the target market, as does Tasmanian lass Rachael Taylor in a support role, while old hands like Jon Voight and John Tarturro relish their larger than life roles.

It's Mayhen Bayhem as Michael Bay destroys, wrecks, blows up and demolishes anything that stands or rolls in pursuit of a noisy and flashy action movie to satisfy the imaginations of a young audience. He also injects plenty of adolescent humour (as cheesy as the film's tone) to ensure that silliness damps down the sense of violence. The sound design rattles the cinema seats (or should, if your cinema gets it right) - which is another reason for under 30s to enjoy it. It does what it does well - if you like that sort of thing.

Review by Louise Keller:
It's long and loud and everything about it is big - from the massive stunts, the pounding orchestral score and the transformers themselves, which tower above everything and everyone in this mega-budget sci-fi adventure. The young males at whom the film is targeted will revel in it all, this testosterone world filled with action and boys' toys. 'No sacrifice, no victory,' is the film's moral, as good is pitted against evil when extra terrestrials invade the Earth. Transformers bears the Michael Bay seal of approval, which means it counters subtlety, scarcity and restraint.

Cars fly through the air, explosions boom at high decibels, roads crumble, helicopters crash and gargantuan transformers gyrate their gymnastics as they miraculously change their form. The film is one giant spectacle with considerable entertainment value, although it is overlong, heavy handed, and the stunts become increasingly repetitive and (dare I say it?) a tad boring after a while. Shia LaBeouf is most appealing as Sam, the schoolboy who gets to save the world (as well as getting a car and a girl). He doesn't pick the car (the car picks him), but sultry Megan Fox's Mikaela is definitely his own choice.

One of the funniest sequences is when Sam is tries to hide the presence of the giant transformers from his father. 'This is my back yard, not a truck stop,' he complains to Mikaela, when the transformers in their guise of trucks, make their way to his house. John Turturro, wearing outlandish underwear, is a scene stealer, and there's a cute, bling-wearing Chihuahua with a leg in plaster called Mojo who milks numerous laughs: 'It's gonna rust,' complains one transformer, when the little canine pees on his leg. At the Australian Premiere, an enthusiastic audience cheered and applauded every time a car, truck or mobile phone converted into a transformer. There is no doubt that dollars will multiply and transform when the film hits the cinemas.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2

TRANSFORMERS (M)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Shia LaBoeuf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Rachael Taylor, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, John Tarturro, Michael O'Neill, Bernie Mac, Amaury Nolasco, Zack Ward,

VOICES: Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Keith David,

PRODUCER: Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura

DIRECTOR: Michael Bay

SCRIPT: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mitchell Amundsen

EDITOR: Todd E. Miller, Tom Muldoon, Paul Rubell

MUSIC: Steve Jablonsky

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeff Mann

RUNNING TIME: 143 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Pictures Australia

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 28, 2007







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