Some of the wonderful things rattling around in this full brain 'o mine. UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY AND THURSDAY (or at least twice a week)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Transformers – Another failed opportunity…

You know, I didn’t know what to expect going into Transformers the movie. I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard fan of the original cartoon or anything. I know some of the mythology. I loved the toys though. That was the draw…at least for me. I like Michael Bay’s movies…for the most part. I just…really didn’t know what to expect from him crossing over into fanboy range though…

Well, I went on Tuesday night. The Girlfriend was nice enough to stop on her way home from work and get tickets for us and a bunch of her work friends to a 7pm show on the IMAX screen no less. Not to say that Transformers is an IMAX movie, but for larger “event” movies, they’ll take it and show some shows on the IMAX screen. The sound is just as good, if not better. And even though it doesn’t up-convert any of the images, in fact if anything it makes the movie look worse (because it looks like the shutter belt is going to break any second), it’s still on this gigantic screen. I thought it’d be cool.

I’m not going to do a review. I’m going to point you to a review that I mostly agree with. If I had to nail it down to a rating, I’d rate it 2 *’s out of a possible 5. It’s one of those movies you should only go see if you’re a fan of the original source material…although if you ARE a fan of that original source material you’re probably going to find enough to annoy you into liking it less than me. Make sense?

Anyway, I’m going to quote some particular parts of a review from Aintitcool, in particular Vern’s review. For those of you who don’t know who Vern is…here’s his site…it’s got a lot of good reading so take the time and check it out.

Here are the parts of his reviews that hit home after I saw the film….

‘Three words for you about TRANSFORMERS: Ho. Lee. Shit. Not as in "Holy shit, I was blown away, it was a blast as well as AWESOME!" but as in "Holy shit, society really is on the brink of collapse."’ - With this, I get where he’s coming from. Most reviews had Transformers pegged as the best movie of the summer…at worst some had it pegged on par with Spider-man 3…which yes I didn’t love, but liked.

“This painful first hour shows that the movie's main problem is the same one as BAD BOYS 2: constant, embarrassingly unfunny jokes.”Yes, there are far far too many grown worthy lines…even excluding Optimus’ “My Bad.”

“For a movie produced by Spielberg it's surprisingly low on awe. People are supposed to be surprised to see robots, but they always turn it into jokes. There's not one second in the movie where you believe people are really reacting to seeing robots.”Yes, 100% yes. I kept hearing before I saw the film that Shia Lebeouf was to Transformers like Jeff Goldblum was to Jurassic Park….no F’n way. Shia was trying, you could tell he was…but he was too hampered by the script and directing.

“but it's bad in a more fascinating way, like a $200 million version of that tv show "Power Rangers." After a good hour fifteen of failed jokes, the probably-meant-to-be-serious introduction of the good guy Transformers is finally laugh out loud hilarious. They just look so fucking silly posing and saying their names and they talk in voices just like the old cartoons, so it almost seems like one of those meta-ironical type movies like FAT ALBERT or THE BRADY BUNCH where TV characters come to life in the "real" world to show how goofy they are. And this is one of the great "did I really just see that?" moments when one of the robots says something along the lines of "Yo yo yo wussssUUUUUUPPPP Autobots REPRESENT!" and I don't think he was eating robotic chicken or watermelon but I swear to you on my mother's grave that he started breakdancing.”I swear to God, I cheered inside when Megatron ripped Jazz apart. He was useless. Most of the Autobots outside of Prime and Bumblebee were. They could have killed every single one leaving just Prime and Bumblebee and I wouldn’t have cared one iota.

“Imagine you took apart a whole bunch of cars, mixed the parts up and welded them all together into a giant ball maybe 15 or 20 feet in diameter, then rolled it down a hill. Shoot that in closeup and you got every fight scene in this movie. I'm sure the Michael Bay style is a huge contributing factor, but I'm pretty sure you could've shot these fights with a stationary camera like a boxing match and I still would have no clue what the fuck was going on. I am no expert on robotics but to my untrained eye, these robots look like shit. Their designs are so overly complicated you can't tell which part is which. One robot (I think a bad guy robot, but not sure) goes flipping through the air in slow motion and while staring at it I was not entirely sure which end was up. There are scenes that are close on Optimus's face while he's talking where I could not even make out a face. I never knew which robot was which or who was a good guy or bad guy or what vehicle was what robot. Luckily Optimus has a shiny blue part on him, occasionally I would see shiny blue and know that hey, that's Optimus! I spotted one!”Here is my main problem with the movie. They spent millions of dollars on ILM doing effects for this movie. They, above all else, wanted realism in the designs…well, in doing so they made everything so overly complicated that’s it’s ridiculous. Seriously. I mean, we’re already there to see friggin robots that turn into vehicles…simplifying the designs a little bit to make them a little easier to see on all the high-speed action would have helped so incredibly much, it’s not even funny. The only good scenes involving the robots are the ones where they show them from far enough away that you can actually tell what they are doing. Unfortunately, I can only think of 5 or so scenes where that actually happens, and the rest of the time I feel like I’m watching fight scenes from Batman Begins, and the Bourne film series…everything is shot as if you’re directly right in the middle of it, thus making it so you can ultimately see nothing. They would have been better off showing the robots tumbling behind buildings, and going completely with sound effects to represent almost every fight in here, and it would have been better.

“The best "characters" in the movie are the robots during the 5 or 10 minutes when they're trying to be serious, and those scenes come off campier than SHOWGIRLS.”Unfortunately this is too true.

To sum up:
The movie’s unnecessarily long, it’s boring for some of it, there are some scenes of pure gold, but just like Ghost Rider, two or three good scenes do not balance out an entire film of missed opportunities. This film is laugh out loud funny, but not in a good way. Like I said in the beginning, this film is pretty much made for those die-hard fans, but Bay has included enough “F U’s” in it that it should effectively alienate most of them same rabid fans ala Batman and Robin.

Go read Vern’s review up now at Aintitcool. Please for the love of all things 80’s, do yourself a favor and don’t go see this movie. I’m sure it’ll do great opening weekend business, but after that it should die down. Someone’s got to get across to the studios that stuff like this ISN’T ok when dealing with our fanboy mythology. Keep in mind Voltron and Thundercats are just down the road. Do you want them messed up as bad as this?

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