Stevie’s review published on Letterboxd:
I will say...one nice thing about Transformers before I start ripping it a new one. (And yes, this is indeed the franchise I’m starting, I hope my readers are happy about it because I’m certainly not.) At least...at least I get the sense that Michael Bay likes the source material. I can’t imagine what this film could have been if Michael Bay was indifferent about the toys, or even worse if he hated them. The problem with Transformers isn’t for lack of love for what got us here, even though Transformers is not one of my areas of expertise so I can’t tell you what he’s doing right or wrong in that category. I can tell you that based on this film Michael Bay doesn’t know how to write a fucking screenplay. Like at all. What he does know how to do is slamming his Transformers action figures together like a child and thinking “hey, this premise could actually make a really good movie.” Well, I reject that theory outright of course. Filming the cinematic equivalent of a pre-schooler slobbering on a figurine of Optimus Prime is not the same as making a movie. To directly quote Todd in the Shadows, who was himself vaguely quoting Glengarry Glen Ross, “nice guy, fuck you. Coffee is for the talented.”
I’ve heard this called a good “popcorn movie,” and it’s not so much that I’d disagree. But if one of the more brainless and fun comic book movies is the equivalent of really great Larry H. Miller tubs of popcorn oozing with salt and butter, Transformers is more the equivalent of the stale popcorn that tastes like cigarettes thst they served at the theaters in my old small college town. Because if not for the small slice of life that is again certainly not enough to hold a scene up on its shoulders, let alone the length of an entire feature film. Well that’s not quite true, there is something of a distinct style presented here. That style is Ugly™. The color palette is little more than a disgusting set of mustard yellow and dogshit brown, the effects on the robots themselves make them look like nothing more than boring shapeless blobs, and the disgusting, Red Bull fueled editing is rotten to its core. There’s also not much of a story to follow, though whatever story there is is...you know, it’s fine and heartfelt. Certainly done a thousand times better with Travis Knight’s Bumblebee, which...you know, I want to be mad that it stole the exact story from this film but if it did it better I truly cannot. Shia LaBeouf is not nearly as charismatic as Hailee Steinfeld for the record, and I’m glad they made a better call there. Throw in some MacGuffin’s and boring character building and you’ve got something that’s too worthless for the 3.94 discount bin at your local Walmart. Of course, I say this all fully aware that the worst is likely yet to come.