How Bad Is…Transmorphers (2007)?
Rather than punish myself with Transformers 5, I watch a blatant knock-off and regret it instantly.
We have an unspoken gag order when it comes to Michael Bay films. We don’t review them. We’ve watched plenty of them, but we haven’t reviewed a single one. Why? ‘Cause they’re utter trash. Derivative, sexist, racist, jingoist claptrap that is meant for the lowest of the lowest common denominator. Recently, movies have been skewing that direction in order to appeal to foreign markets, but Bay was doing it bigger and dumber for decades.
Long story short, rather than have nothing to say this weekend about big dumb robot movies, I decided to seek out some of the “mockbuster” films that have attached themselves to these hollow spectacles. I was strongly tempted by Amazon Prime’s low asking price of free to watch Atlantic Rim, a shameless rip-off of Pacific Rim re-jiggered to include more big dumb robots. I saved that one for another day (probably the same day Pacific Rim 2 comes out, honestly) in order to see what I feel is the original Transformer’s knock-off movie: Transmorphers.
Humanity has been driven underground by an invading swarm of robots from a distant planet. The robots killed 90% of the population in their first strike and then blotted out the atmosphere, because this movie decided to also rip off The Matrix. 400 years later, humanity has finally come up with a counter measure and is forced to use it when the robots finally discover their location. Took their sweet time, I see. When the first elite team is wiped out, the powers that be must revive a dangerous political prisoner from cryo-jail in order to finish the mission.
What Went Wrong?
- Godawful CG. This movie did not have the budget to carry a giant robot fest, and it showed. The very first sequence has a giant robot transform and land, and it looks like the very cheapest animation from a PlayStation 2 video game. The Armored Core series of games from From Software ALL look better than these trash bots. Adding to the misery, the CG is never integrated into the action. You get actors reacting to crap off screen, and then a cutaway of muddy CG robots usually just standing in place.
- Bad Science. This movie relies heavily on trumped up science and it makes a complete hash of it. The film opens with an exposition dump of how we contacted aliens 200 million light years away with a peace message. 5 years later they invade. Space doesn’t work like that! The Earth would be unrecognizable by the time the message arrived for the aliens, and they sure as shit wouldn’t be here in 5 fucking years! On top of that, humanity eventually decides to fight back with magnetic mines, which we are told can suck up metal in a 6 meter radius. First, that’s a pathetic distance. Second, we see humans in armor with guns arm the bombs…who would then be promptly sucked into puddles of goo by the effect. Fail.
- Waiting for GoBot. Tied into the woeful lack of budget, this film has glacial pacing problems. There is actually a decent plot here. Humans need to capture a robot, reprogram it, and then get it to the heavily fortified robot command tower. Unfortunately, shooting that sequence would cost money and logically spend most of its run time on infiltrating the enemy base. Instead, we have community college actors rehash the plot over and over while standing around in generic sci-fi rooms in order to pad the run time without actually having to spend money on action sequences. When they finally get off the pot and execute the mission, we get a rushed and plot-hole laden mess.
What Went Right?
- Progressive Politics. The head of the human army is a female general…and she is in a loving same sex marriage! It’s even played straight *ahem* and not for gratuitous lesbian sexy time. Many of the main characters are female and despite being poor actors they’re not treated like sex objects even once. Apparently the only way gender equality is going to happen is if giant shitty robots attack. That’s not exactly great news for the LGBTQ community.
- One person can act. Bit part actor and voice-over journeyman Matthew Wolf stars as Warren Mitchel, a rebellious survivor who is woken from cryo-prison and given command, stealing shamelessly from Demolition Man. Thank goodness Wolf can actually act. His role is the most important and the most interesting, since the film also steals from Terminator Salvation and makes him an android. He’s an idealistic zealot, a tough soldier, and the culmination of a secret project to make artificial humans. He is literally the only high point of the film.
- My DVD has a fast-forward button. Sorry, I’m out of good things to say. I may need to replace my DVD player in the near future, because I was frantically mashing the fast forward button. At 1 hour and 22 minutes, it felt like this movie went on for eternity.
How Bad Is It?
I picked up this movie (which I had to pay for, incidentally, since it’s not on any streaming service currently!) hoping for a film that would be so earnestly cheesy that it would be a stark contrast to the cynical Transformer’s series. Anything is better than Bay-formers, I though. Boy, was I asking for trouble.
This film is amateurish and punching way above its pay grade. There are some decent ideas here…but almost all of them are stolen from other movies. This movie is an alien invasion movie with heavy influence from The Matrix and Terminator. What it has almost no influence from is an actual Transformers movie. The bots turn from standing robots into crouching robots with big guns. Not cars, not planes, just mobile gun platforms. The box art is a blatant lie, since the robots aren’t even the brightly colored CG vomit of a Bay movie.
There is no earthly reason to watch this movie. The fact that it is not easily available for streaming is a blessing. I can’t say I would rather watch Transformers: The Last Knight than Transmorphers…but if I end up in CG hell when I die, the choice is going to be awfully difficult.