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An 'Optimus Prime' only diehard fans will love

"Transformers" is a film undoubtedly made with nothing but profits in mind. Proof of that lies in the opening credits. The production companies are credited, as usual, with an odd credit tacked on after them: "In Association With Hasbro." Hasbro is certainly raking in money from Transformer toy tie-ins, and the movie itself is a smash. But seriously, a little effort to make it something more than a cash cow would've been sorta nice.

The movie is directed by Michael Bay, a master of dumb, profitable action movies. Granted, "The Rock" got a lot of things right that most other blockbusters don't. But many of his other movies, namely "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor," are still used as textbook examples of brainless action flicks. Add "Transformers" to that list.

The main problem is that the Transformers themselves are ridiculous, and the humans in the movie aren't really much better. With today's modern technology, not to mention the movie's $150 million budget, you'd expect the Transformers to look a little more impressive. Sure, they're highly detailed, but every time they talk or even move, they're just kind of repulsive to look at. The plot concerns a group of Transformers, led by Optimus Prime, who must fight against another oversized action figure called Megatron for some big cube that's really important for some reason. ("I think it gives them control of the universe or something," my friend suggested.)

Stuck in the middle of this battle is shy teenager Sam Witwicky. Sam is played by Shia LeBeouf, a rising star who must've done this film just to collect one more paycheck on his way to the top. Sam is the character we're supposed to like best: He's given more than a few funny one-liners and at one point dons a Strokes T-shirt. Then again, it's not like he has much competition. There's a love interest supplied by Mikaela (Megan Fox), whose beauty and low-cut shirts can only distract you for so long from the fact that she has no personality, or for that matter, anything that should make Sam like her the way he does. There's also a bunch of soldiers who are given personalities that can be summed up in one word, so they'll be easier to kill off in big action scenes. Plus, there's a group of jabbering government workers who are trying to deal with the Transformers (one has a British accent, so we all know she's meant to be the smartest of the bunch).

OK, so action movies don't necessarily need enthralling characters as long as they have -- you know, action. The action scenes in "Transformers" feature great special effects, but they were made with the belief that if everything explodes, everything is loud and the camera never stays still, then you have yourself an exciting action sequence. Wrong. A great action scene gets the audience really wrapped up in everything that's going on, with suspense and tension. It's hard to achieve that when there's a cut literally every three seconds, and your senses are being assaulted.

"Transformers" is apparently a movie made solely for fanboys: Everyone who liked Transformers long before the movie was released thinks this is "Citizen Kane," and those who didn't seem to be in the same boat with me. Bay is already in talks to direct "Transformers 2." The sequel will probably be highly acclaimed by viewers for an obvious reason: Diehard fans will be the only ones who will bother with it, while everyone else will have learned from their mistake.

Jason Silverstein will be a junior at Williamsville North.

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