Ah yes, the infamous folks at Asylum just can’t be kept down, and everything is mockbuster fodder. Not even Michael Bay’s Transformers is safe. Asylum went there…kinda…in their 2007 flick, Transmorphers. Yeah. Morphers. Sigh. All the excitement of invading alien robots without excitement (or fun), and without explosions every five minutes. Come to think of it, though, that’s a good thing.
This movie’s a real stinker. Brace yourselves, folks.
The world has been invaded by alien robots, whose first act of terror is bombing the Willis Tower in Chicago. They wipe out ninety percent of the population, driving the remainder underground, and change the Earth’s atmosphere so it’s always dark and stormy. For three hundred years they fight guerrilla battles off and on with the last small band of humans.
This ragtag bunch is tired of fighting and want to end the war once and for all, so they bring in a ringer, Warren (Matthew Wolf), who’s lived on the surface. They figure he knows how to take the robots down better than anyone because location. He’s currently cryogenically frozen and needs thawing, but after that he’s good.
Transmorphers can be summed up in one word: Padding. Fully two minutes of the film are taken up by watching those alien robots float by in dodecahedron form. Slowly. And they keep floating. Past Saturn, past various generic astrological activities, and all in a neat little alien line. We spend what feels like a full minute just watching them float by Saturn and on down to Earth. It’s the Particle Parade That Never Ends.
We barely even get to see the robots in their non-particle form once they get to our poor unfortunate planet. Firebombs seem to come out of nowhere and things go boom. Then it’s on to the underground. For roughly forty minutes we watch our ersatz heroes yell and snarl at each other when they’re not throwing punches.
Oh, and about Warren the ringer. He’s not only the clean-cut, stubble-laden wannabe Snake Pliskin of Transmorphers, but his right-hand man is named Itchy (Griff Furst). For the entire length of the movie I couldn’t hear the guy’s name without wondering where Scratchy was. With his meager backstory, Itchy is probably the most well-rounded character of Transmorphers, which isn’t saying much. He’s a bit of a firebrand. He’s also a wee bit annoying.
When the humans finally make it to the surface, their plan seems to be to capture a robot and dissect it to see what makes it tick. They also need a fuel cell to analyze so they can knock the baddies out at their source. One of their crack scientists is a guy named Dr. Voloslov Alextzavich (Michael Tower) who’s the spitting image of Moby except way more perky.
After poking around on the group’s captured robot for a while, Dr. Moby is able to draw no conclusions because their tent is set up smack in the middle of the battlefield which, oh yeah, is dangerous. The humans have to watch out for the robots’ random brain scans, a literal headache and not much else. Persevere they do, though, with the help of nuclear weapons that look like Frisbees. And the team has an air force populated by gorgeous women who look like they’ve all stepped out of the same Barbie box, led by the breathy-voiced, piercingly blue-eyed Xandria Lux (Shaley Scott), whose name is not at all porn star-ish.
The idea is to work stealthily so the robots don’t notice, but what else can be expected when Frisbees are involved? Someone is bound to notice. As the robots get madder, Dr. Moby and the rest of the good guys have just enough time to pull themselves and their science experiment out of harm’s way before the tent gets flattened like Godzilla squishing Bambi. They’ll be back, though, and this time the stakes are so high they’ll have General Van Ryberg (Eliza Swenson) with them. She’s a fearsome warrior whose face is stuck in a scowl like she’s a wannabe cage fighter.
Oh. My. Word. This. Movie. It’s always hard to tell if Asylum means to make bad movies or if they trip their way into it, but either way they were being themselves when they made Transmorphers.
First off, the camera bounces. All the time. In every scene. It’s not overt like jumping on a trampoline or anything, but it looks like they put the camera on a bobblehead. And what gave them the idea of splitting the screen into triple or dual images I’ll never know. It’s just there. Characters upstage each other or are filmed from very bad angles–there’s one scene when the camera films the communications specialist with her chin in the air so all we see is her neck. Groan. The special effects are awful too, of course, because they always are in an Asylum film.
The camera and special effects have nothing on the actors and the story, though. It borrows alllll the scifi cliches and throws them in a blender. Earth is under attack. The population is nearly wiped out. A band of rebels fights to free their planet and, ideally, not get blown up. Oh, and there’s a wee bit of romance between the resident bad boy and his former sparring partner, who realizes her mistake and declares her love just in time. And of course there’s a final battle where everything gets worse before it gets better. It might seem safe and familiar, but the end result is dull, dull, dull. It doesn’t help that the acting is terrible, especially Dr. Moby, who perkily approaches the big showdown like it’s a Nintendo game. He’s a little too gleeful about robots blowing up and being in mortal danger.
Moby, and for that matter, Itchy, are the cheeriest souls in Transmorphers. The rest of the characters spend more time fighting each other than the robots, especially the pilots–these women will go after each other at the slightest trigger even though it has nothing to do with the story. I get the feeling the filmmakers just wanted to watch women throw fisticuffs.
Maybe it’s because they’re not much else to do. These characters have no real relationships with each other. Every love interest feels tacked on, the actors look bored, and there’s no reason to care about these people or even remember their names. It’s an Asylum film, after all.
While Transmorphers is one of the more boring offerings from that august purveyor of badness, someone liked it enough to give the thing a sequel, Transmorphers: Fall of Man. Guess that will be another story for another time, though, because at the moment I can feel my eyelids shutting. I need to watch something good…or maybe get some really strong chocolate.
For more of the Third So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, please click here. Thanks for reading, all, and I hope to see you tomorrow when I bring my final review of the ‘thon. I’ve been saving the best (worst) for last, and boy howdy, it’s a doozy. Hasta mañana…
Transmorphers is available on DVD from Amazon.
~Any purchases made via Amazon Affiliate links found on this site help support Taking Up Room at no extra cost to you.~