Thursday, July 5, 2007

Transformers (2007)

Transformers (2007)This summer's blockbuster event is Transformers. And, unless you've lived under a rock for the last 20 years, you pretty much know what the movie is about.

Big. Transforming. Robots.

Transformers is a pure action romp from start to finish. You have Huge Shape-Shifting Robots fighting the military, you have Huge Shape-Shifting Robots fighting a secret government agency. You have Huge Shape-Shifting Robots fighting each other.

Oh, and a Little Shape-Shifting Robot fighting all that, plus Shia LeBouf and his hot girlfriend.

I enjoyed this movie. You don't get too many "popcorn flicks" like this every year. It was fast, it was energetic, it had a decent story, it even had made you care, just a little, about the people and robots in it.

In truth, the movie was more about people with some Huge Shape-Shifting Robots thrown in, than about Huge Shape-Shifting Robots who meet people.

And, that's okay.

One of the things the old Transformers cartoons did not depict very well, or at all, was how the Transformers being on Earth affected anything. The movie shows us, sometimes in excruciating detail, just how the United States would respond the Huge Shape-Shifting Robots ... pretty much how the Government is depicted responding to anything from outer space ... shoot at it, capture one, and torture / experiment on it!

Still, it felt plausible, and for once our government and military isn't portrayed as some inept, bumbling, and vaguely evil entity. (Though the throw-away, snide political commentary about the President is more biting). I suppose being a Fourth of July release, it behooved the filmmakers to show the US in a good light. Pump up the patriotism, fuel the war machine, and all that. *shrug*

Still, while the movie, overall, was a blast to watch, it suffered from similar plot bloat as did Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. There are several plot threads, and so many characters introduced, that you begin to feel slightly overwhelmed.

There are six groups of characters that alternately interact with one another throughout the film, eventually converging together in the film's climax: Shia LeBouf's Sam Witwicky and his girlfriend and family; the Special Forces military team; the Secretary of Defense (Jon Voight, yay!) and his signal breaker team; the enigmatic Sector 7; the brave Autobots; and the evil Decepticons.

I think they should have lost the Sector 7 and most of the signal breakers stuff and focused more on Sam Witicky and his relationship with Bumblebee (the yellow, Camaro Autobot). To me, that storyline was the true heart of the film, and it seemed a bit rushed and somewhat forced in places. Shia Lebouf was a great fit for his character, though at times he seemed more like his Even Stevens character in his frantic yelling and screaming at the beginning.

The Army vs. Robot sequences were great. Lots of explosions, plenty of cool guns, awesome special effects. Some of it could have been cut down, but Michael Bay sure loves his exploding action sequences. I'm not a huge fan of the way he does action. I much prefer the cleaner style of action I saw in Live Free or Die Hard to his choppy, quick shift style. It's not horrible, but I just prefer to see what is going on, rather than semi-see it and have to guess.

I liked having the Secretary of Defense in charge of things. Jon Voight is one of my favorite actors, and I really enjoyed seeing him in this role. The signal trackers were okay, but too much focus and importance was given to them, and the addition of Anthony Anderson's character was totally unneeded, slowed things down, and was just jarring in its blatant attempt to be "funny". (Though still not as ear-shriekingly bad as Bernie Mac as the car salesman at the beginning of the film).

The Decepticons looked sufficiently menacing, and very fluid. The Autobots were similarly fluid, but seem to convey a more benign nature. The CGI teams did excellent work with the designs and animations.

All the Transformers were realized perfectly on screen. You fully buy into the idea that these Huge Robots could transform into the vehicles and other shapes. The one thing that seemed incongruous about them was how they were able to move almost silently while walking or hiding. You'd think there would be great big WHOMPS when they took steps due to their massive size.

Peter Cullen returns as the voice of Optimus Prime. He makes the movie. Without him the movie would still be pretty good, but having him reprise his role as Optimus makes it freaking great! Optimus is more humorous in the film than in the cartoons, a refreshing change. All the Transformer dialogue is as fluid as their animations. You feel they are definitely "more than meets the eye".

There were a few other things I didn't care for in the film ... the Allspark's size-shifting, a few rude humor scenes, a bit more strong language than I care for in a "family film" (mostly several Mother Fu ... never completely spoken, but you know we all mentally finish the statement), and the ending sorta made me think "Why didn't he just do that in the first place?"

Overall, I liked it ... a lot. I'd go see it again, except I'd have less to drink beforehand as the movie is two and a half hours long. I'll definitely be getting this on DVD. And I eagerly await the sequel.

You know there will be one. They left it open at the end, with a hook or two here and there.

Still, you really only need one reason to go see this film ...

Big. Transforming. Robots.

I was wavering between a 3 or a 4 for my rating, but the movie has grown on me in the two days since i saw it. So I am giving Transformers as solid 4 out of 5 Raivynns.

Raivynn Rating


death said...
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Tom said...

Excellent review! I will check it out. I remember when transformers were the craze. The Mudpuppy just had to have them!