Thursday, July 5, 2007

Transformers (2007) - Review


The Transformers and I go way back. Almost back to birth…but not quite. I am old enough to have been the target audience for the original line in the 80s, and I have always had a special fondness for the Transformers. I would put the 1980s film in my Top 25 films of all time. That’s how much I love the franchise.

So, it will come as no surprise to anyone reading this, that I had reservations about the Michael Bay helmed Transformers film. When he was first announced, I thought he was a perfect choice for directing a movie about giant robots.

Then I saw the flames on Optimus Prime…

You see, putting flames on Optimus Prime, to a large majority of long time Transformers’ fans, is kind of like putting John Wayne in an Elvis jumper and setting him on fire.

At the same time, my 3 year old became very interested in the Transformers (mostly from looking at the ones daddy asked for for Christmas). So, I whipped out the original Transformers cartoon show, and re-watched it from start to finish as an adult for the first time. I think that helped prepare me for the movie immensely, because the original show was much more formulaic than I remember, and not nearly as good as the 1986 animated movie.

So, when I walked into the theater tonight, my expectations were low - I mean, the trailers have never even shown us a talking Transformer…I didn’t really know what to expect, and I didn’t have high hopes of loving this movie.

Then, after roughly 837 trailers and commercials, the movie started, and what is the first thing that I hear?

Optimus Prime.

The original voice actor, Peter Cullen, has returned to the roll for this film, and hearing his voice - older, and rougher, sent a geeky chill down my spin. Michael Bay - you son of a bitch - you had me from the first line of dialogue.

The films opens with an intense action scene featuring the Decepticon Blackout, and our fighting men overseas, then we are quickly taken into the world of Sam Witwicky, played by bonafide movie star Shia LaBeouf. Here we get the ball rolling on the main human element of the film, Sam and Mikaela (played surprisingly well by the ultra-hot Megan Fox).

These two stories (the soldiers and the kids) intersect with a lot of military mumbo jumbo including the Sector Seven business. These different stories all factor into the human element of the film, and I let you watch all of that spoiler free if you’re interested in that part of the flick - but I have to tell you - if that’s what you’re going to this movie for, then you’re missing the point.

This movie is about Giant Robots whipping the hell out of each other…and it delivers.

The effects companies behind the film, have officially thrown the hammer down, and the results are unbelievable. There was not one momen…NOT ONE…in this entire movie where I thought “hey, that’s good CGI”. Everything looks so real, and is done so well, that you just believe it.

I’m telling you…you have never seen ANYTHING like Transformers.

The personalities of the Autobots are surprisingly similar to their animated counterparts, and they live and breath with a personality that makes them all the more real. I have to say, though, the human element of the film really helps sell the giant robot action. Shia never once seems like he’s talking to a blue dot on a wall. It all works.

You can tell by watching this film that you will be watching movies starring Shia LaBeouf for the next 30 years. He’s that good. There is a reason Spielberg is sold on this kid…it’s because the kid has “it”. He has a Tom Hanks level of “it”, and he makes the non robot filled scenes not only tolerable, but pretty damn good.

Are their moments that will make you groan? Yeah.

Does Optimus’ mouth move when he talks? Yeah

Should you get over that and just enjoy the hell out of this movie? YEAH.

I could sit here and pick this movie apart for an hour telling you all the things that could annoy you about it. John Turturros’ character for example (which, for those of you that don’t know was based on Michael Bay) is annoying as all hell. Anthony Anderson also got on my nerves…but none of that matters when the last 20 minutes of this movie kick into gear, and the Autobots and Decepticons go to war.

It is intense. It is epic. Awesome is literally the only word to describe it.

If you’re looking for a thought provoking, gut wrenching, tear jerker of a film - this is not your movie. Avoid it like the plague. However, if you want to see the most amazing effects in the history of cinema (and I mean that), and giant robots beating the hell out of each other…this is your film.

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