There was debate at my house as to whether this counted as “science fiction.” The two resident young males argued that it didn't, but since the Internet Movie Database lists Sci-Fi in the list of genre, I’m counting Transformers for the 42 Challenge. The 42 Challenge is to read, watch, or listen to, and then review 42 science-fiction-related items in the 42 weeks and 42 days between the official start date of January 1, 2009, and the official end date of December 3, 2009. However, since Becky, the challenge’s host, has graciously invited unofficial starts at any time after joining the challenge, I’m starting now.
We got Transformers via Netflix, and the familial reaction to it was perhaps best summed up by my husband’s comment early the next morning as he left the house to get the newspapers from the road. “I’ll put this in the mailbox myself to make darn sure it leaves the house.” Yeah, it was that bad, but then the standards for science and science fiction are pretty high when dad is a nuclear physicist, elder son is finishing his master’s in atomic physics, and younger son is whizzing through an undergraduate math major. I’m not exactly ignorant myself when it comes to science, and can only say that my memories of the animated Transformers movie are more positive than what I thought of this live-action take on the same world.
Just as in the animated Transformers world, the live-action world hinged on the good-guy Autobots versus the bad-guy Decepticons. Key to the story is an astral cube that had been frozen in the Arctic along with, as it turns out, head Decepticon Megatron. An explorer stumbled on them, and ended up with important information imprinted on the eyeglasses he was wearing. Fast forward decades later, and one of the explorer’s descendants (played by Shia LaBeouf) is trying to sell the glasses on eBay to raise money for a car. As a result, he is being sought by both the Autobots, which find him first, and the Decepticons. The rest of the movie is best summarized with one of the lines my kids often use in telling a story: “And hilarity ensues.”
So as not to trash the movie totally, I will say that it includes a spurt of dialog that we all thought was pretty priceless. Agents of the super-secret government unit Sector 7 knock on the door of the Shia LeBeouf character’s house. Flashing a badge, the head agent identifies himself as being with Sector 7. “Never heard of it,” comments Shia LeBeouf’s father. “Never will,” responds the agent, totally deadpan.
In short, if you’re looking for serious science or science fiction, look elsewhere. If, however, you’re willing to be entertained by how low a movie can stoop or want to compare this to other D (for dreadful) movies, then this might be the way to go.