Harry reviews TRANSFORMERS which isn't really more than meets the eye!
Hey folks, Harry here… I’m not quite sure what to think of Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS. I mean that.
Yesterday, was an amazing event. Robosaurus was amazing. He was cheesy perfection! He ate cars, shot flames and had the most hilarious announcer ever. The rain made it feel epic – and in the end… it just was magic.
That said – I really do see Robosaurus and TRANSFORMERS as two different things. Robosaurus is a blissfully retarded idea that delivers 100% right before your eyes.
Bay’s TRANSFORMERS puts so much moving stuff on-screen that it literally wore my eyes out. On a single viewing, I was utterly exhausted. The images of Robot carnage and destruction are just awesome. ILM moved a shitload of pretty pixels in the making of this thing.
That said… as awesome as all of that is… I just can’t help, but notice how shabbily the Transformers were treated as characters. All of their dialogue felt as though it were an after-thought. Peter Cullen’s Optimus’ narration – as awesome as it was – felt like shabbily handled exposition. That said, this isn’t anything new. TRANSFORMERS as a story-telling epic, never really blew me away. And here, this isn’t a TRANSFORMERS story, it’s a human story involving Transformers. We’re introduced to them through characters that are too numerable.
As with most of Michael Bay’s films there’s the story-telling shorthand of trying to constantly tell the BIGGER STORY. That’s the flaw here. I heard that this was supposed to be a story about a boy and his car… that happens to be a robot. Now, as cool as the military action was… It kills Shia’s storyline.
His character is essentially an old school Matthew Broderick character. But without any of that craft on the part of the writing. We don’t stay with Shia. We’re always being whisked away from the heart of this story to deal with characters that there is NO REASON TO DEAL WITH.
I don’t care about how the Pentagon would want to deal with the threat of Alien Transforming Robots.
I don’t want this movie to start in Qatar. It’s a cool action sequence, a lotta stuff goes boom! But there’s time enough for that later. Don’t be so impatient. Put the dick back in the pants…. It’s ok… you got the Robots, but their characters were never built.
I wanted the film to start with Shia running out to his dad’s care with his A- paper and going to get the car. Have him get the car, don’t blow the windows out of everything else. Don’t do the HERBIE gags… Just let him fall in love with his shitty beat to hell Camaro. Then – let him go after the girl. The driving her home/first date sequence is great. But instead of the “Baby Come Back” – treating Bumble Bee as a joke… let her go. Cuz what is necessary isn’t that she get back in the car… but that Shia and that car spend some time together. Slow this movie down.
Here they decide to go with the “let’s freak the kid out” line of story-telling… let him not know if his car is evil or not… but that’s the lame way to go about it. Let him have the joy of having his own Transformer. That everything is cool. THEN bring in some Decepticon BULLY-stuff.
Sure – the glory of this taking place in the landscape of Los Angeles – and big awesome destruction is fun…. But that isn’t how you create classic film.
Showing BumbleBee being “tortured” by Sector Seven didn’t mean anything, because nothing had been built between the characters yet, because we were so busy trying to establish the jarheads, the cute AirForce 1 bs, the codebreakers, the hackers, etc… instead of creating that bond between man and machine.
IRON GIANT was a brilliant film, not because there was a Giant Fucking Robot… but because the boy loved his Giant Fucking Robot and the world was trying to take it away.
Now TRANSFORMERS isn’t IRON GIANT. It could have been better than IRON GIANT. It could have been a Boy discovering just how vast the universe was… Bonding with BumbleBee, who introduces him to the hidden world around us… But then, just how terrifying that discovery is when you realize it isn’t just about the benevolent robots, but there’s another point of view. A breed of robots that’s out to destroy not just the boy’s robot… not just Optimus and the others… but all living creatures.
The film needed to escalate, not just with battles, but the ideas behind the battles.
The film we have is a battle of styles. You have Michael Bay – who is an incredibly talented visual stylist. And Steven Spielberg, who is, often times, a master story-teller. The film we get comes from Michael Bay. It has moments that I’ve been dying my entire life to see. I will see it several more times, but it’s for those moments – not the movie as a whole.
Like PEARL HARBOR, Bay loses focus on the main story. Delivers awesome visuals, but leaves behind the greater story. This film is a mess that is absolutely crying to be seen on the big screen for the visuals, but that falls way short of its own ambitions.
I’ll be watching this again this week. There’s a chance that the film could grow on me, but this isn’t elegant, classic storytelling… and ordinarily I wouldn’t hold that against Bay… but goddamn it – this is classic iconography that he’s playing with. That Spielberg rushed this through with this scattershot script, he should have known better. There’s no denying he’s fond of Michael… I’m fond of Michael… but he needs a strong story-minded producer to help him. They need to fight for the story, not woo the U.S. Military into showing off their latest warmachines. Who cares about “bringing the rain,” when you’ve got GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS…
But ya know… the attitude of Giant Fucking Robots is kinda what kills the movie for me. That’s the video gamer mentality that keeps this from being not about Giant Fucking Robots… but about Optimus Prime, BumbleBee, Ratchet and the others.
This is a scattershot epic mess filled with dreams of better films. I don't think I'll ever love the movie, but I do love Transformers.