Thursday, July 12, 2007

Transformers, 2007. Review #2.

I got to see this one on the 4th and I have to rate it two separate ways. As an action movie, I’d say it was good and kicked a decent amount of ass. However, as a Transformers movie I’ll just say it didn’t totally suck, but it came close.

The thing about the original Transformers series was that it was simple: two warring factions of advanced machines crash land to earth, set up base, and try like hell to get back home. Their ship computers rebuild them so they transform into vehicles that fit in on Earth. The Decepticons try to get the energy to get off of the planet by stealing it, the Autobots try to come up with a way to generate it themselves without interfering with the humans. Decepticons hatch a plan, Autobots find out about it and stop them, lather, rinse, repeat. Simple, clean, plenty of robot battles and LOTS of transforming to "move out".

Now, I understand the need to broaden the appeal and give more background when making a big-budget flick like this. I just don’t understand why it almost always means that the original story/premise gets crapped on in the process. Sure, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that a .45, a tapedeck and an F-14 would all transform into like-sized robots, but as kids we all bought it and let it go. Why is that suddenly not good enough for the movie? Megatron’s right hand man, Soundwave, was always a badassed character and would have been great in the movie instead of the random assortment of “who’s that?” robots from the 10+ years of crap that came out after the good, original series was over. We could have gotten past the fact that he went from being 12 inches wide to being 12 feet tall, in favor of seeing more of our favorite characters.

So, the basic premise of the movie bares no resemblance to that of the original series, but the story weak in some other areas as well: There is very little group dynamic on either side. The Decepticons are all basically working rogue and they just show up here and there and interact minimally with each other. And this is a tragedy because they never got a chance to touch on the power struggle between Megatron and Starscream, which could have been very cool to play with a little in this movie and then make into a major subplot in the sequel. The Autobots move as a group, and you get to see them work together...a little, but I still feel like there could have been a better team dynamic.

In this one, I really would have preferred to avoid the whole “super secret government agency that’s known about this all along” story arc. It’s way too clichéd in sci-fi movies and wasn’t necessary. It’s just more sub plot to eat away at the time I get to see robot on robot action...even though we did get to see "the Jesus" himself John Turturro, it just wasn't worth it.

And I don’t know why all of these remake flicks have to include such a sizable block of cheese; corny lines, lame subplots, and a terrible character or two, really chip away at the integrity of a movie that could have hands down kicked any sci-fi movie’s ass.

Personally, I think the worst part of the movie itself (other than the story) is the character of Frenzy. It makes me cringe to think of poor Frenzy (the REAL one) rolling over in his fictional robot grave as his name is used in vein for a character that is basically the Jar-Jar Binks of 2007. This character’s movements were goofy and clumsy, his speech/sounds were basically baby talk, he didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of what was going on, and when he does finally die, he says “Oh shit”. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking “WAIT, WAIT WAIT, there’s no cussing in Transformers!!” (*in my best Tom Hanks, “There’s no crying in baseball” voice). Just a bad character.

So, I had a good time in the theater, but I’m not sure if I’ll be picking this one up on DVD. Eh, I guess I probably will if I can get it for 10 bucks. After all, I DO own Episode 1 on DVD.

1 comment:

Tyler said...

As a kid I really didn't mind the whole size/scale problem of something super small transforming into a giant robot, but that was probably because I was just a stupid kid. As an adult, I probably would have called B.S. and then stopped watching after Megatron transformed for the first time.

I thought that the Dececpticon that broke into the computer on AirForeOne was Soundwave because he transformed into a GPX Boombox at one point. (One thing both of us forgot to mention was the amount of product placement in that movie. Wow, there was a ton of that. eBay! eBay! eBay! Go to eBay! Ok, we get it already. Seesh.)

The one thing I did have problems with as a kid, strangely enough, was when Optimus Prime would transform from robot into truck and then his trailer would come out of nowhere and attach right behind him. I was wondering if they were going to do that in the movie, but thankfully they left it out. The main reason it annoyed me was of course because it appeared out of thin air and but also because he never, ever used it. I had a friend that had the toy and the trailer tranformed into a pretty cool little battlestation, but they never showed him using it in the cartoon.