“Transformers” delivers action but fails at momentum

“Transformers” is full of action and fantastic special effects. Unfortunately, the filming is so chaotic at times that it’s hard to tell what’s happening on the screen.

While the plot is well-developed, there are periods of time where the story gets too bogged down by military information or technical data. The film isn’t consistently fast-paced in the action sequences or consistently paced more slowly when the story is being developed.

Yet this film manages to have a great plot at its core, unlike most action films where the thin plot is just a vehicle for the action.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf, “Holes,” “Disturbia”) is the grandson of a famous explorer. Unbeknownst to Sam, his grandfather actually made a discovery that has been kept a military secret for years.

This is the catalyst for the rest of the film and the reason why Earth becomes the battleground between two warring factions of Transformers: the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons.

Add to this some typical teenage storylines where Sam is trying to get a car to impress a girl he likes (Megan Fox, “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen,” “Hope & Faith”), and there’s plenty of room for humor.

In fact, it is this humor that helps to glue the whole film together. It’s not all death, destruction and chaos.

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Instead, LeBeouf is able to throw a few quips at the audience that are so funny they almost feel ad-libbed. This goes for the actors who play his dad (Kevin Dunn, “Gridiron Gang,” “The Black Dahlia”) and mom (Julie White, “War of the Worlds,” “The Astronaut Farmer”). The chemistry they have as a family is quite believable.

However, the plot doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of one teenager. Thankfully, he is not “the only one who can save the world,” an unrealistic plot device many teen movies use these days.

Instead, there is a very realistic subplot in this film with a military unit led by Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel, “Las Vegas,” “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!”). It is their intelligence gathered rather fortuitously from the field that helps to get the government involved on the right side. It is the military that fights the bad guys and help save the world, not just one teenager.

Although the actors on-screen did a great job, the voice casting is just as well thought out. The voice casting for the character of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen, “G.I. Joe: the Movie,” “Duck Tales”) was the original actor from the cartoon series – a definite nod to the fans. And who better to voice the villain Megatron than Hugo Weaving (“The Matrix,” “V for Vendetta”)?

There is also a great soundtrack full of adrenaline-pumping music at the right moments and slow songs at others. Nothing is rehashed, other than some classic songs used for comedic affect by one of the Transformers.

However, at 144 minutes the film is just too long, cool special effects or not. The length left the audience bored several times throughout the film; even some of the action sequences took far too long to get resolved.

Be prepared to spend more time in the theater than enjoying the summer sunshine.