Wednesday, July 04, 2007

TRANSFORMERS---more than meets the eye!

Much to my chagrin I was wooed alongside nine year old boys and thirtysomething video gamers (ahem! er, uh *cough cough*) by some really bracing pacing in the latest Transformers trailer---I think it was when I saw Fantastic Four 2 (ahem! mrrrm *cough cough*)---and I came to see yet another Jerry Bruckheimer/ Michaeal Bay effort, a CGI-glutted, rock 'em sock 'em, adrenaline packed, testerone-laden excuse for two plus hours of my day. Surprisingly, I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I would be! (How's that for the cup is half-full?)

I won't bother with summary, etc. but will say that fans of the cartoon will feel a renewed sense of manly security when they hear Optimus Prime's booming, pseudo-synthesizer radiating in voice over and reminding we measly humans that all will be well. The voice (done by Peter Cullen, who, incidentally, is also the voice of Eeyore) silences the noise of terrorism (a la rumors of war), government and corporate corruption, or even the daily mundanities of trying to muck out a living. It's downright therapeutic. I may just get the movie only to replay those moments when I'm stressed.

It was the above, however, that caught me off guard. While the Transformers are in fact souped up courtesy of legions of computer artists, they're still very much the ones we remember in the 80's, (well, except in one scene where Bumblebee "lubricates" on a covert agent). Furthermore, Shia LaBeouf is the saving grace of the movie. He's unavoidably likeable, of course, but he also plays the awkward teen wanting a car to impress the girl like a pro. That journey, which lasts maybe one third of the film (or so it seems) is the one that ingratiates, even inures me into thinking I might just give a ---well, you know.

However, this is, after all, a Michael Bay film, and what would any summer blockbuster be without a whole lotta destruction? Trust me, if you're looking for CGI wonder, you'll find it, but you may get more than you wished for... Maybe I'm getting old, but action for the sake of action annoys my inner being. I'm much more interested in how any story element (action included) affects the characters. In other words, the stakes for the characters are what make the action important. Mere survival or even victory (even against giant robots) isn't enough for me to shout "wahoo!" In Transformers, I stopped caring so early that by the thousandth explosion or rolling robot, I could no longer take anything on screen seriously.

But then, what did I expect from Bay and Bruckheimer?

A few random items:

  • There's some random wacky robot doing an acid-tripped Johnny 5 impression throughout the film--- I can't be scared by that, but am I supposed to be?
  • Why did the female lead have to be like something out of FHM? (Fact is, I wonder if she hasn't been in FHM.) The largely male demographic of this particular movie will unlikely not need any help augmenting their drool capacity, nor their penchant for dreaming foolishly that they're perfectaly capable of dating such a person by any means save an extraterrestrial car. I feel to say to my fellow geeks, abandon such an enterprise! Find a real woman, these pin-ups aren't for you.
  • More than a few human beings get annihilated in terrifically gory and or excruciating ways in this movie, including a scene where MegaTron actually flicks a human being away like a bug. Such reminds me of a film instructor who despised Paul Verhoeven for a scene in Total Recall, wherein Ahnold uses a human body for a shield. Is this the nature of blockbuster according to Bruckheimer? The film employs the line "Without sacrifice there can be no victory" throughout, but I wonder if it shouldn't be "Without attrition there can be no box office success"?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:54 AM

    Going to see it with my partner in England. I can't wait! Thanks for the review.