Online only: Transformers: D+

Bad movie in disguise

Ever write a last-minute essay without knowing a damn thing about the topic, but for some reason you're just really on your game and you just write beautifully? You know, one of those grade-A bullshit papers that meets all the requirements and appears all snazzy, but lacks anything truly tangible?

That's "Transformers."

It meets the explosion requirements for a summer blockbuster. It certainly exceeds the required amount of cheesy, cliche action scenes. And it even features alien robots, doubling up the summer blockbuster requirement of robots, aliens, super heros, natural disasters or time travel.

For those reasons, the movie would earn a passing grade. But I'm no easy-going T.A. "Transformers" drops into D+ territory because behind the glitz and glamour of shiny robots and mass chaos, this really is a bad movie.

Perhaps my disappointment with "Transformers" stems partly from my expectation that it would offer a change of pace from long-winded, short-sighted action flicks. With Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg each attaching their name to the project, I anticipated a clean, compact thriller that starts, peaks, ends and leaves you desperate for more. And the trailers only fueled that fiery expectation.

Instead, "Transformers" felt more like a hybrid between the 1999 cartoon movie "The Iron Giant" and a Chevy commercial. And no, I wasn't feeling the revolution.

The cold, robotic heart of this movie rested on the relationship between Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) and his camaro-bot "Bumblebee." This plot line is literally torn right from "Iron Giant:" boy discovers robot, grows to love robot, secret government agency tries to separate boy and robot, robot eventually computes a human emotion -- love. Only difference here is we also get some eye candy in Sam's typical nerd-aiming-way-out-of-his-league love interest Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox). Her acting almost matches her sex appeal, but she leaves LeBeouf looking like he should stick to the Disney channel.

The rest of the undeveloped story lines revolve around a troop of soldiers in the Middle East (shocker), and two "pack it in" performances from Jon Voight and John Turturro.

From there, the action scenes were cool and the robots were impressive, but the bang hardly exceeded the bore of the non-robot-fighting scenes. Plus, it seemed that each cool action sequence was capped off with some "Ra-Ra Freedom Ra-Ra" speech from Optimus Prime which really killed the mood.

So, sorry Transformer fans, but you may want to stick to the toys.

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