Transformers Review – I have just been Transformed
And if it weren’t for all the humans and robots, it could have been an awesome movie. Spoiler filled review after the link – don’t click if you’d rather see the flick virgin.
Just as Michael Bay’s Transformers felt like a half-hearted attempt at modernizing our youth, I’m going to only spend half as much effort, writing this review. First, some qualifiers. I *loved* The Rock; I consider it a great film, and easily Michael Bay’s best (I didn’t think Armageddon was terrible, but I didn’t think it was good either). On the flip, I never liked the Bad Boys films, nor The Island, nor Pearl Harbor, nor… you get my drift). Also, I loved Transformers as a kid, and have fond memories of the animated movie, but to be fair, never recognized them as works of art. I more got a kick out of giant robots fighting one another, turning into cool vehicles and having interesting personalities. I don’t remember any of the human characters names from the shows, movies, etc.
So this leads to me Transformers: A Michael Bay film. To cut to the chase, I’m very disappointed. I went in thinking, “If they just showed giant robots fighting for two hours, it’s worth the price of admission” and halfway through it, I couldn’t help thinking, “Why would I ever want to watch this movie again?” It opens great, a killer scene, a realistic tone, and setting the stage for what is going to be an awesome Transformers movie… but that would be more than meets the eye. Instead, the tone shifts, becoming goofy, almost cartoony (but never cartoony enough) and you’re stuck with horrible, horrible characters (John Turturro ushering in, by far, the worst performance in the film, if not the history of cinema). I don’t mind a cartoony movie, I don’t mind a serious movie, but pick one or the other! In Transformers, Bay mixes in realistic action scenes with corny jokes and humanity at its worst. But what about the bots…
Well, in part, it’s good. Optimus Prime decapitating a Decepticon is awesome. The other dozens of scenes of robots fighting where you can’t ascertain what the hell is going on is not so good. Whoever came up with the aesthetic design for this new breed of Transformers should be transformed into a corpse. I mean, there’s so many jutting pieces of metal, you don’t know if you’re looking at an arm, a fist, a mouth, a head, anything. What’s worse is that the Transformers themselves look the same: Jazz looks like Barricade who looks like Ironside; when the fights start, you just hope that the good guys come out on top. It completely sucks. Wait until you meet the “loveable” Frenzy, the most annoying robotic character since Bicentennial Man. Absolutely horrid; flutting about like scratches on celluloid. Kids will love him, if they can even make it through the film without falling asleep.
The worst offense of Transformers is that it never felt real. It never really felt like you were watching a giant robot on screen; it felt like you were watching a special effect. When Optimus and Megatron go toe-to-toe and plow through a building, there’s no consequence, nor do you think you’re really watching a spectacle. You’re watching a computer do what it does best… and that’s not the way to feel in a movie about sentient machinery. Don’t get me wrong, some “transforming” scenes are done well, but on the whole, I found myself waiting for “the moment.” You know, that scene in a movie that justifies why you saw it. Say what you will about Pirates 2, but that wheelwell three-way swordfight was an incredible stunt that, if your girlfriend makes you watch the movie again, you know that you have that to look forward to. In Transformers, the only thing I’d be looking forward to is the credits, for the awkward jokes about government’s looking out for its people and a throwaway sequel setup.
Oh, and before I forget, the product placement is so obnoxious. I can live with Pontiac’s Solstice and Camaro and all that shit; after all, it’s a movie about cars… but later in the film, Nokia gets a shining spotlight and there’s even a Mountain Dew Bot and an Xbox 360 Bot. I’m not kidding, it’s so over the top. I guess if you’re making a movie like this, you need to have your sponsors in order. I wish I had that sequence in the film where the All Spark modifies the Dew and Xbox 360 bots, because I’m already working on my parodies: It hits the Wowwee “It’s Alive” animatronic monkey head, it hits some dude dancing in an alley with his iPod, it hits a woman’s purse and transforms her sex toy, or last but not least, some old guy gets his pacemaker transformed inside his body.
So jeers to Decepticons with no characters, jeers to characters with no good dialog and jeers to dialog spouted off by bad actors. What a horrible mistep this franchise has taken, though it’ll make $200M in its opening week. Oh well, at least I have Harry Potter to have high hopes for.
Oh, and before I forget, Optimus called me up via his webcam and left me this little rant. Whatever, dude. [Youtube’s giving me problems, so this may not work at first.]
One last note: While a forced romance and other bad shenanigans try to scuff him up, I’d say only Shia escapes Transformers unscathed. He plays a teen very well, he’s funny, you feel a little bit for him. I think he’ll do Indy proud.