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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Movie Review: Transformers

TransformersI don't really know what to say about the Transformers movie now that I've finally seen it. If you've been following along (and if you have seriously, seek help) then you already know my opinions on most of the film's content. I still hate, hate, HATE the overly complex robot designs. I still can't stand the idea of Optimus with lips. Bumblebee just doesn't work as an action hero for me. Megatron still looks like a walking Cuisinart. And Micheal Bay remains a terrible director. I mean really terrible. The man should consider a change of career. Given his predilection for pyrotechnics, I'd suggest demolitions be his first option.

Before I begin my diatribe, I will mention three things which the movie got right: First it established the notion that transformers could be real. Leaving the theatre, I caught myself glancing at cars, looking for signs of inexplicable movement. Second, it maintained a sense of consistent scale. When people were running around screaming because giant robots were fighting in the middle of the street they seemed appropriately puny. And third, Shia LeBouf impressed me with his ability to shit bricks over things that weren't really there on set. The problem with these three things is I shouldn't find them impressive at all. The first two should simply be a consequence of modern movie making technology. As for the third, it's called "acting" for a reason. So basically, the best parts of the movie were the elements that met my bare minimum requirements. That's not really a good sign.

I suppose I should examine the plot of film. I assure you I'd be happy to, if I could find it. I'll skip over Sam's "all American boy" saga because frankly I don't give a shit. I'm not a gear head, I don't care about cars and in the real world, a douche like Sam would never score a fox like Mikaila unless he already owned the '08 Camero. Sticking then with the TFs themselves, let me see if I've got this straight: Pursuing the allspark through space, Megatron discovers it on earth 1000 years ago but crashes due to magnetic interference from the poles and is encased in ice, offline. If Megatron awakens, he will use the cube to make earth into a new cybertron and exterminate humanity by raising an army of decepticons from our own technology with the power of the allspark. BUT! All of our technology comes from having studied Megatron and didn't exist 1000 years ago when he arrived and we were still sailing the seas of a flat earth in wooden boats. So he came up with this plan... when? And Optimus became aware of Having studied the allspark for decades, Sector 7 has discovered it can bestow sentience on any advanced technology within range of it's radiation, so they keep it surrounded by... advanced technology to monitor it. And they keep Megatron just down the hall.

This is the point where my EEG flat lines. One does not expect much from "summer movies" because, apparently, we're not supposed to. I don't know who came up with that rule, personally I'd like to introduce his testes to a lead pipe but that's just me. Transformers however has logical inconsistencies that break even the summer movie's lax limits. It doesn't even obey it's own tortured logic! Frenzy gets decapitated and survives to annoy the fuck out of us for the entire film. Bonecrusher gets decapitated by Optimus and he's scrap metal. Jazz gets ripped in half and he's dead but Bumblebee suffers essentially the same amount of damage and he's fine. Hell, he's better than fine, the combat actually repairs his vocal processors! By the way, for those keeping score, be sure to tick off "killed the black guy" on your summer movie cliche card as Jazz is ostensibly the "black guy" of the autobots. As for the other autobots, I can't help but wonder if Ironhide landed on his head when he arrived. First he wants to kill Sam's dog, then his parents and then a few scenes later, he's questioning Optimus about whether or not humans are worth protecting because they're a primitive, violent species. Pot? Kettle? Stupid? And then there's the cold thing. I have no problem with the idea of transformers frozen in ice. Indeed, from Skyfire to Galvatron to the Dreamwave comics, the concept is a venerable plot element of the franchise. But the key notion is that they're ENCASED IN ICE, not that they're simply too cold to function. In the context of the film it makes even less sense as the TFs essentially swim naked through space which, in case you'd forgotten, is seriously fucking cold!

Then there's the "nods". Off-hand, pointless attempts to reconnect this film to the original series which seem to alternately placate and infuriate old school fans. They seem to have retained the eye colour identifier for autobots and decepticons (blue and red respectively) so why does Frenzy have blue eyes? Prime's fight with Megatron was a dialogue rehash of the '86 film except that this fight was nowhere near as interesting as the original. Bumblebee of course had to assert his "Bayness" by slamming the door of his G1 counterpart. Yes Mike, we get it. Megatron's first comment upon gaining freedom is that Starscream had failed him... except he hadn't. Need I even bring up "more than meets the eye"? Shut up! It's not cute, it's not clever, it's inane! Almost every single one of these (and I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting) was tacked on and felt like it.

Humour is an important element in film making. Someone should explain that to Micheal Bay. Someone should really explain that to the film's scriptwriters. Explain it with a bat to the cranium. Lame sex jokes... masturbation is funny... and pee! "Stop lubricating on that human". Look, lubricant has no human analog OK, so equating it with pee is idiotic. He's a machine, he's needs that to LIVE. He's essentially BLEEDING on him. The entire sequence in Sam's yard stopped being funny after the first two minutes. I'm sure there were probably some fart jokes in there I missed. At times there are actual musical cues to attempt to support the jokes. Why didn't they just do rimshots? While I'm on the subject, find the music director, flog him, quarter him and impale his head on a pike on the paramount lot. I want his bleached skull to stand as warning for generations to come: Nobody should be able to score a film by cobbling together random clips from the soundtracks of other movies and get away with it!

I cannot really express in words my sheer contempt at the audacity the level of product placement in this film has reached. I find it ironic that Bay himself thought the notion of doing a "silly toy movie" was beneath his... well, I hesitate to use the word "talents" but whatever. That's beneath him. Shilling for GMC, pepto bismal, alkaseltzer, mountain dew, nokia, Xbox, cadillac, porsche, hostess and more companies than I can clearly recall is however not beneath him. I'll leave you to work that one out for yourself.

So you can see, my feelings about the film are neither enhanced nor diminished they are simply reinforced. Hearing Peter Cullen reprise the role of Prime made the film bearable but hearing him deliver such asinine dialogue made me cringe. On the plus side, this has not damaged my love of transformers like the prequels inhibited my love of star wars simply because I can't maintain the mental connection. This movie was transformers in name only. I suppose if I had to try and sum it up, I'd have to say it was something like this: You know when you see a cheap Chinese knock off of something? The colours are wrong, some of the parts are missing, other parts may have been included for no reason and you get that general "kinda-sorta" feeling? This movie is like that. A very expensive knock off.

Transformers gets a rating of:


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  • Zain - why do you expect too much from a movie such as Transformers? I think it's because you loved Transformers so much as a kid and nothing could meet your expectations. I agree, some things were weak in the movie, but overall, it was a fun escape for 2 hours and my kids loved it! I loved the big screen experience with the effects, explosions, sounds, etc. I was entertained, but i did not go in to the movie expecting a classic 'Casablanca' or even 'Ratatoille (sp?)'. But i did leave the theatre looking for a bumblebee. :-)

    By Blogger Warren, at Fri Aug 10, 01:27:00 PM  

  • I'm not Zain...

    By Blogger CapnG, at Fri Aug 10, 05:33:00 PM  

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