Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Get ready, because I think the dam’s about to break on this one, and we’re going to see a ton of TRANSFORMERS reviews in the next few weeks. There are screenings in LA this weekend, and then that big public premiere in a few weeks. It’s going to be interesting to see what people who aren’t deeply attached to the original cartoon make of this one. Everyone I’ve talked to who has seen it so far has been pretty excited by what they’ve seen, fans and non-fans alike. So we’ll see...
I got a chance to see a screening of Transformers this week and it was much better than I was expecting. I will start by saying that the plot is paper-thin but it doesn't even matter. The effects in this movie are probably the best I've seen. The line between reality and CG is seamless. (Think back to the first time you saw Jurassic Park, then, advance the technology 13 years) Props to Shia LaBeouf who plays Sam the lovable dork. I've never liked this kid in anything but he holds it all together here and brings a lot of humor to the table and sells it. I'm actually looking forward to him in the next Indy movie. Speaking of humor, there is a lot of it in the movie. Luckily, it's mostly displayed by the human characters-so cut Optimus some slack for saying "My bad" after breaking a ceramic vase in Sam's backyard. (Funny how The Thing uses the same lame line in an ad for the new FF4) Other than that, the Autobots are very serious and pretty much all business when it comes to taking on the Decepticons. I liked how even some of the Autobots wonder why they can't just do away with the pesky humans but Optimus insists that have as much a right to live as they do. Bumble Bee and Optimus Prime are the focus here and really the only two that warrant emotional investment. Especially Bumble Bee. He becomes Sam's protector and is given a personality of his own. It's funny when he changes the radio station for songs to create a mood between Sam and to-be girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox). Bumble Bee and Barricade are involved in the first robot on robot battle that begins with an extended car-chase sequence. Watching Bumble Bee emerge out of a plume of smoke being followed by Barricade with all of the music and revving engines and squealing tires is chill-inducing. Great stuff! When the secret government agency Sector 7 catches Bumble Bee and is holding him down with wires, he looks to Sam with puppy-dog-like electronic eyes and it is sad, man. Think back to when E.T gets taken away by the masked bad guys. There are other elements of the movie that will take you back and make you feel like a kid again. Mostly due in part to the awe-inspiring CG and the aura of cool surrounding the whole idea of bad-ass cars and planes transforming realistically into giant robots and kicking ass. I think Bay pokes fun at his own image a few times and I didn't even mind him using the getting-old-very-quickly theme that accompanied Lucy Liu's posse walk in Kill Bill as Bumble Bee changes his exterior from old, rusty Camaro to a shiny 2007 model. But, let's be honest folks, someone like Michael Bay HAD to direct this kind of movie. Or do you want to see another Ang Lee/Hulk debacle? Megan Fox as Mikaela will draw ire from female viewers (jealousy) but the guys will love her even though most of her dialogue is drivel and she serves almost no purpose other than the unlikely love interest. (She reminded me of a younger, hotter Sheryl Crow) I don't remember too much from the original cartoon but I think there was a cube that had something to do with the whole Transformers story. Because here, the cube is part of the main plot. The cube and a pair of old glasses worn by Sam's Grandfather. Yup, a cube and eyeglasses. Unfortunately, Megatron is kept frozen by Sector 7 until about the last quarter of the movie. They explain that almost all of earth's current technology derived from studying Megatron since he was discovered frozen in ice in the 1930's. Once he is finally in action, there is a cool sequence in which all of the Decepticons respond to his call and their language is translated so we can see what they are saying, like, "Barricade en route," etc. There's no time to focus on Starscream's head-butting with Megatron for superiority but Megatron does yell at him saying something to the effect of "Once again, you have failed me." I can't forget to mention the boombox robot. When I first heard about this "iPod" robot, I thought it would be cool. Some of it is, but for the most part, he's for the kids - especially while sneaking off of the plane and he puts his hand up to shield his face to evade police who are walking ALL OVER THE PLACE! Very silly. Despite the faults, and there are many, I did not mind one bit. This is summer eye candy through and through with a heavy dose of testosterone. The transforming is usually done quick but several of the introductory transformations are slow so you can see all of the detail that goes into it. Especially Optimus' first transformation. So damn cool. Watch the detail of Optimus' slo-mo punch into Bonecrusher's face and you'll see his eye hyper-extending from the power of the blow. I didn't actually see Megatron's arm cannon, but I was told that he used it once. I'll be amazed if it doesn't win best special f/x at the next Oscars. John Turturro as a Sector 7 agent is delightfully (and randomly) over the top. Anthony Anderson is brought in for more comic relief and most of it works but it's a little overdone. It's okay though, both the Autobots and Decepticons take their battle so seriously that the humor is balanced. In a classic Michael Bay move, a team of genius students (wink to Bruce Willis' team in Armageddon) are brought in to decipher an unknown sound that was emitted during Blackout's attack on the army base in Qatar at the beginning. Man, Blackout lays the place to waste! The sound is going to amaze you from this scene and all of the other action sequences. Amazing sound. The final battle sequence in the city streets is cool but some of the action here (and in other scenes) is so fast that it's hard to distinguish who is who, who is good, who is bad and what's happening. I think that's why I missed Megatron's arm cannon. Adults and kids are going to like this movie which is why I see it making a bazillion dollars. It's far better than any of the Big Three sequels that have come and gone already. Speaking of sequels, of course they left room for one. Most of the Transformers survive-good and bad. Not much story here, but the effects and sounds are unlike anything we've seen before-it's mesmerizing. I give it a 9 out of 10. P.S. If you post this, please don't use my username – the Memflix effect, ya know? You can use.....Saint Hubbins
This one’s a little shorter, from someone I’ve known for a while. More a reaction than a review:
Hi Drew: I attended a Transformers press screening. I enjoyed the movie a lot for what it was -- a summer action movie directed by Michael Bay, based on a line of toys and a silly animated cartoon. It certainly is a Michael Bay film -- whether that is a good thing or not is up to you -- but all of Bay's signature directorial moves are there. The same bombastic music and musical cues he always uses, the illogical chases (run the bad guy's so close!, jumpcut, the bad guy is inexplicably gone), the crazy authority figure (John Turturro, in his worst role I have seen), the nonstop-shouting-as-witty-dialogue, and, of course, great production values and effects. The biggest difference from the animated series is the addition of a rather odd MacGuffin ("the cosmic cube" or whatever the hell it was) that is not explained very well. And I could nitpick a bunch of things. But I do not think that would be fair to the movie. It is what it is -- big, loud, eye-popping fun. The robots look great. Megan Fox looks great. The characters are surprisingly well fleshed out (for a Bay action film). Despite being 140 minutes long, the film did not drag at all (not like Spider-Man 3 or Pirates 3 did). In short, the best stupid movie I have seen this summer. Feel free to add my post to your site if you would like.... but please do not include where I saw the film... and do not mention my name. Call me "Haisan." Cheers! - Haisan