Cambridge’s Local Secrets review begins with “The first 32 years passed without incident. Then I saw Transformers in 2007 and my life was changed forever”. The Times had a slightly different viewpoint and eloquently described it as the equivalent of director, Michael Bay, “beating his chest and waving his penis at us for a couple of hours”. The truth lies somewhere in between.
This movie is an absolute orgy of stunning computer effects. It’s simply jaw-dropping stuff. It succeeds in this where the latest Star Wars efforts failed simply by displaying just what is possible when you unite the best visual director in the world today with a lot of money and a genre like science fiction.
For an hour I gaped in awe as it built from everyday human events into a national crisis with an unseen and unknown enemy, attacking with a force and intensity never witnessed before on Earth. Everything was buzzing along nicely as the evil Decepticons asserted their dominance and then the holier-than-thou Autobots landed and Optimus Prime, their leader, opened his big fat gob. In an instant, I realised the movie I was watching wasn’t going to finish the good work it had started. The payback never came.
It’s actually quite easy to see why it came to this. Michael Bay simply tried too hard to tick all the boxes. You cannot create a movie based on a set of kiddy toys who come packaged with their own simplistic and incomplete back story and hope to ever produce something that pleases the children that played with those toys, the geeks who have latched on to the character cult status, and the movie buffs.
The basic premise of good robots versus evil robots is completely bang-on the money. Where it fails is the human element. By making the robot effects so awesome, Bay has overcompensated by making the human reaction try to equal it. You simply can’t do it without losing the credibility. The stunts are obscenely complex, the vehicles are spotlessly shiny and the sets just get bigger and less realistic.
The result is the movie equivalent of a tag-team wrestling contest between Terminator 2 and The Rock versus 2 Fast 2 Furious and Matrix Revolutions. One minute it’s the best disaster movie ever, the next it’s a lad’s wet dream. Go and see this by all means, but when you turn off you mobile, remember to do the same with your brain.