When Michael Bay was announced as the director of Transformers, a big-screen version of the '80s cartoon franchise about alien robots who hide among humanity disguised as vehicles and other machines, it seemed like the perfect match of director and subject; whether that's a compliment or an insult is a matter of your perspective. Bay's movies (Bad Boys II, Armageddon) have always looked like a bizarre hybrid of truck commercials, Army recruitment ads and country-music videos: high-gloss, quick-cut, back-lit visions with an emphasis on surface sheen and a minimum of scripting or storytelling to get in the way of the next explosion or action moment. Transformers may represent the ultimate symbiosis of director and subject: Transformers is, in many ways, a long-form commercial, co-produced by Paramount, DreamWorks ... and toy manufacturer Hasbro.
Transformers, the movie, may sell Transformers, the toys, but it doesn't do much of anything else. You can't go into Transformers expecting it to make a lot of sense, or to work as science fiction (it is a movie about giant robots who shift shape, after all) but I don't think it's too much to ask that it could, at least, be competently and coherently made, which it isn't. There's no rhythm to the big moments of action -- they're too quickly-cut and closely-shot to be clear or comprehensible -- and the script, credited to Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, is littered with failures in both simple taste and basic storytelling.