Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Extremely Loud and Incredibly … Awesome.*

Transformers is awesome.

While I think it's clear the notion of giant robots fighting should either be elicit a grin (possibly a serious, silent nod first, followed by grinning) or a look with a whiff of disapproval, I will attempt to say something that adds up to a "review".

Transformers is this going to get stupid really fast. Giant robots fight and punch each other. Forget the plot, it's serviceable. It's got ignorable holes. It makes more sense than Final Fantasy. The action scenes provide enough kinetic excitement. They're not easy or sequential, per se, but I didn't find the action scenes hard to follow. In fact, the direction was otherwise pretty clear to me. I mean, I've never watched a whole Michael Bay movie till this one (5 minutes of Armageddon made my head hurt), but it was fine to me. Maybe he had to hold shots longer so ILM would have a stable scene to play with?

My niggling comments, bad: Weak Australian hacker, overly expository interlude to "explain things" between the "blowing things up". A jarring Apple product placement (seriously, pentagon laptops aren't going to be macbooks)...rampant product placement throughout actually. A couple lazy lowbrow jokes too many.

My niggling comments, good: Surprisingly good robot design. More than just punching fighting. Enough insider jokes and lines (not enough cheering at "Roll out!" with my crowd, to my mind). Hits the PG-13 sweet spot well. All the actors are involved enough to act, and not just pull paychecks (Star Wars prequels, I mean you).

"Significant" comments: Boy, that conclusion is kinda weird. If it's weak, its only the very, very end--but still. Shia LaBeouf (his build suggests his teenager playing days are over) is good throughout. The sign of a fine actor to me is pulling off stupid, stupid lines. And "My friend Optimus Prime" is a pretty stupid thing to say. He does it well. And professional voice actors like Peter Cullen (Optimus) are just light years ahead of celebrity voices, seeing as they can grunt in character.

I still feel like most of this immaterial. You'll know whether you like it from the trailer alone. Is this a arrested development kid thing? Like wanting to own a monkey? It's not the apotheosis of thirteen-year-old boy awesomeness that is Chronicles of Riddick, but...

Transformers: Less awesome than Riddick, awesomer than anything else this year. That's a pretty fair calculation, I think.

Quick alternate take:
The Allspark...always Allspark, never Cube shouldn't so definitively be destructive. Dumb robots should be created, instead of evil ones. Megatron should've gotten it and become more powerful, evolving into say...uh...UltraMegatron (not, not Galvatron, shut up.) but the fusion would be incomplete. The Autobots would defeat him in his Super Saiyan mode, with everything blowing up. Right now, since Optimus clearly has not hesitation about killing Decepticons, the confusion at the end is dumb. The aborted self-sacrifice is meaningless, since it's not the logical option.

Also, no making out on top of sentient beings. Creepy.

* Yes, that was the Slate Summary Judgment headline. But I'm making it affirmative, so it's mine, right?


Mike said...

Having seen more than a handful of Michael Bay's movies to date, I have to say that it was a cut above his usual level of Bay-gasm. And he managed to use all of the standard shots in his repertoire... .

I still contend that the ending was a set up for the green-lit sequel. But also enough of an ending so that if they didn't green light a sequel, it'd be enough of an ending to be somewhat satisfying, plot holes notwithstanding.*(spoiler to follow with *)

Ah... the hackers. Completely superfluous, and only there to add a bit of exposition, eye candy (whose ausie accent is in fact really, horrible, but real, and why is an ausie working for the NSA anyway?), and comic relief. So at the very least, that subplot wasn't as completely superfluous as the Dory Miller plot in Pearl Harbor.

At any rate, I liked it. And Duvall, you missed commenting on the best part...


*SPOILER: e.g. M can still come back.

Anonymous said...


I too felt it was one of Bay's better movies. As was said earlier, some people like my sister have no interest in the movie and probably won't really like the action/fighting etc. Interestingly enough, if you read the comic adaptation of the movie the hacker plot is almost entirely cut out.

In general, I thought the movie was pretty cool and entertaining enough to watch again and again. Shia does a great job with his role. Even after watching it on the big screen, I still don't like the general robot aesthetic that much though.

Yes, I agree. The Allspark could always have some delayed reaction with Megatron to make him into a super powerful Galvatron.

Katie Davis said...

I haven't seen this yet, so I have nothing to say about what you said. I just want to share a friend's description, because based on what I've read here and can guess on my, it seems quite apt:

"Transformers isn't good, but it's awesome."

DannyDont said...

Also should be mentioned in the "niggling points, bad" category is the fact that Devestator appeared in this film as a tank, as did Bonecrusher as some construction vehicle other than a bulldozer--all the while, internet rumor has it in good faith that along with the Dinobots, the Constructicons will be featured in the sequel.

What are we to do with this? Will the gestalt giant robot formed by the Constructicons (sans bulldozer) be called by another name? Will they siphon from other giants like Bruticus, Menasor, or Abominus?

I enjoyed the movie, but I simply can't abide by a misrepresentation of Bruticus.

Also also niggling was that it seemed Bay used his car chase stencil from The Island, the scene where the good guy tells the gov'ment what he wants (no taxes...ever) from Armageddon, and the slo-mo running on a roof with flares from The Rock.

Other than all that, watching Starscream dogfight with the F-22 Raptors had me squeeling.

Mike said...

Come on, those are the hallmarks of any Michael Bay film. And you left out the kiss with the sun setting in the background from Pearl Harbor. Did we have a hero-strut away from an explosion (ala Bad Boys) somewhere in there at all?

As for the next movie, I personally vote for Hot Rod, or Rodimus as they're calling him nowadays (one way or another that San Diego Comic Con exclusive will be mine). He better not get Optimus shot again though!

hcduvall said...