Going into Transformers I had very mixed emotions. Every geek part of me wanted to scream “giant robots are awesome!” but every fiber of my movie going bias was saying “oh shit, it’s a Michael Bay film”. I had high geek pride and low movie expectations. I’m happy to report that Bay didn’t completely fuck this one up. Actually it was good, really good. He hit it out of the friggin’ park.
Walking out of the theater I had a gigantic smile on my face. The kind of smile a 12 year old has when he opens a shiny new toy for the first time. Giant transformable robots are something that as a child, playing with the toys, you were left to imagine in your head. What if this thing was real? What if my parents car in the drive-way was really a 50ft ass kicking machine? When you’re a kid you love to imagine things like that. Before seeing this movie I pulled up every memory of what I thought giant walking, talking, fighting robots would be like and the effects team in this movie pulled it off perfectly. That’s not surprising, especially considering it’s ILM we’re talking about.
The story itself is slightly off from the cartoon, but is a non-issue. Instead of trying to collect multiple “Energon Cubes“, the movie focuses around the fight over a single”god cube” from which all life sprung. 6 of one, half dozen of the other. It’s a cube and they’re fighting over it, that’s good enough for me. I was also not really bothered by the paltry acting from the human aspect of the movie. In reality, they’re just there for backstory. The real movie is hot robot on robot action, and man does it deliver.
The action sequences in the movie are almost too awesome. When you finish seeing one, you brain doesn’t have enough time to digest it before the next one starts. A great example, and I’m trying not to give anything away, is the awesome highway fight scene you see in the trailers, which when completed, flows immediately into a city wide brawl. The former is so compelling that by the time more carnage has started you’re only part way through saying “holy crap, did you see that?” There are a few kinks in the armor, I won’t lie to you. It’s far from a perfect movie. There is a heavy amount of “shaky cam”, so shaky that you’re often confused. Coupled with that is the fact that the robots themselves are far more complex than simple cartoon versions. So complex in fact that when things start to get intense and robots are tangled up in high-speed wrestling matches, it’s hard to tell which part is whose. There are pieces flying every which way and if it weren’t for the occasional blur of color you’d have no idea if Optimus Prime was fighting Megatron or if a building was coming down… or both. Basically, they went from this to this.
That said, the real only distraction was the human acting. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy as an actor, but casting John Turturro as some sort of special agent is just silly. The special-ops guys did a good job, and so did John Voight, but the kids got on my nerves a little. In the end, they did a good job and I think it worked well. Personally it would have made a little more sense to make Sam the mechanic (as in the cartoon) and not the girl, but whatever. I was actually very happy with the way this movie turned out. The CG was really top notch, the action scenes were well put together, the pacing was good (read: non-stop). It was a great experience and a great “popcorn flick” as people say. It’s a really fun movie to see, especially when you grew you in the 80’s. It’s all those good geek memories brought to life.
Way to go Bay, I’ve almost forgiven you for Pearl Harbor… almost.
I totally agree with you on this one. Everything that didn’t have something directly to do with giant robots made me wanna stop watching. The most interesting thing to me about the whole experiences was the J.J. Abrams “Cloverfield” teaser before the movie. I don’t like Lost and I really hate viral marketing campaigns, but that teaser made my jaw drop.
The more I think about the movie, the less it makes sense. There be some spoilers here, so the kind of people to get pissed off about those should stop reading. First off, the relative size of the robots and objects around them don’t stay constant. The most obvious example being when Prime picks up the magic glasses, they grow to fit in his giant hands. When Signal-Analyst-Girl and Hacker-Guy are in the museum, and she tells him to hook the computer up to the radio to transmit Morse? That’s just stupid, all you need to for Morse is to hit two wires together. Oh, and there was a Morse key *on the table*. And my new favorite, when Military-Guy decides “Hey, let’s take the thing all the giant evil robots want to the nearest high population density area to make sure there are plenty of innocent bystanders around when they attack!”
Overall, it was an enjoyable movie to me, but not something to try and think about. More think = less giant robot smashy fun.
Agreed and agreed. Chip, that’s basically my definition of a “popcorn flick”. The less thinking the better. Personally, I don’t really like them all that much, but every once in a while they’re fun to watch. The movie doesn’t have a point, it’s not a heavy handed drama, it’s just two and a half hours of fun. And Jason, I completely agree, and that trailer looks unbelievable. I still don’t know what it’s about, but it looks pretty cool. You think the entire movie is filmed “Blair Witch” style like that, or thats just a different way of teasing us with content rather than form?
From everything I’ve read the movie starts with an aftermath cleanup crew who find a video camera with a tape it it. They hit rewind and then play. Then the rest of the movie is what is on the tape. I love the blair witch so i’m excited that someone is trying to do a better job of it.