While ripping apart the new movie, Roger Ebert very adroitly explains the problem with how the movie Transformers look:
From its origin as a children’s toy through its evolution in TV animation (1984) and the 2007 movie. It has grown steadily more complex, apparently feeding on larger and larger junk yards. [The movie Transformer] is now too much to comprehend, especially in Bay’s typical average shot length of not much over one second.
I don’t entirely hate how the new ones look. I get that Bay wanted to move away from the blocky look of the original series, but in doing so, all the bots look the same. They’re just a mess of tubing and metal. It’s hard to tell them apart during frantic action sequences, and they’ve gone so far from their original forms that it robs me of some of the fun recognition of a childhood toy brought to life by movie magic.
Peter Cullen’s voice still does it for me, though.
(I don’t know that I’ll go see the new movie, by the way. For my $10 Moon would be an unquestionably better choice, but maybe I’ll be in the mood to kill a few brain cells this weekend.)