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Monday, June 22, 2009

The Transformers (live action) movie. A movie review

Transformers movie review

July 3, 2007

Written by James "Bo" Gorcesky

The Prequel to the Go-Bots Saga

A Disaster film of Biblical Proportions

Hah! Wouldn't that be funny though?! But seriously folks – you NEED TO SEE THIS FILM! I know I don't have many opportunities to say that anymore, but I truly enjoyed this Cybertronian piece of cinema. Oh, if I happen to throw some Transformer nerdy lingo at you at times, I do apologize. You see, I am what is called a Transfan (a Transfan is to Transformers as Trekkies are to Star Trek). In fact, I am the biggest Transfan that I know and have even converted others for the Cybertronian cause (Cybertron is the home planet of the Transformers race in case you didn't know.) So I took into consideration following the formula of films based on properties of our childhood that this film would really suck. I was totally prepared to nit-pick every scene, character and element – but you know what? Considering all of the nerdy love that I have for this franchise I truly wasn't disappointed. We finally get to see what would happen to our world if giant robots landed here.

Granted, a lot of people were going to criticize director Michael Bay's clich├ęd over-the-top action style in the film, but I found a large chunk of the film had a great balance of action and tongue-in-cheek cute little scenes of comedic proportions. There were some scenes that did seem just a bit over the top with constant slow-mo scenes of action and some other action scenes Bay would also mix the action with tongue-in-cheek humor – not as effective. The film is quite hilarious as well and features some very talented little actors to constantly throw in a little joke here and there. Such as getting ransacked by the FBI while playing a Dance-Dance game, Bumblebee communicates through songs on his radio, mom interrogating about masturbation and the giant robots sneaking around the house so that they aren't caught by Spike's parents.

But you gotta give it up to the writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, they took a series that had the basic concept of aliens come to Earth to take our energy (which could have had a great parallel to our current day and age) but instead they were able to stretch it out to a two hour plus film about the Transformers hunting down their own little "holy grail" of Cybertron – The All spark.

Now, the All Spark (for all of you Transfans out there) might be able to see the parallels of it to Vector Sigma in the original Transformers cartoon. Sigma was an ancient "super computer" that gave life to the all of the Transformers. Unfortunately, for some reason, in this film – anything mechanical that comes in contact with the All Spark becomes evil. Which makes many to wonder that why that is that only evil comes from the All Spark? Perhaps that is why Megatron and the decepticons want it so badly – in order to "transform" Earth's technological resources and machines into a brand new army of evil. OR perhaps something happened to the All Spark eons ago? Or perhaps all Transformers are made evil, and it becomes their own free spirit to choose the right side and join the Autobots? Oh, I don't know – I might be getting into this a bit too much.

So, that is pretty much the plot of this film – to obtain the All Spark before it falls into the wrong hands and the human lives that are caught in the middle of it all. There is a bit of an intertwining story amongst many of the human characters (on both the military side and civilian side) in the film, in particular – I truly enjoyed how they were able to connect the Witwicky family to the Transformers. Originally, it just seemed by chance that Spike Image:SpikeProfile.jpgand his family just befriended the Autobots and he taught them the ways of Earth and it's great resources and history. Now, it just so happens that Spike's (his true name is Sam in this film) great grand-father happened to discover Megatron up in the artic circle years ago. Well, it just so happens that Great Grand daddy's eye glasses became imprinted with the co-ordinates of the all spark after he accidentally re-activated Megatron's navigational system. Afterwards, Witwicky got locked up for going insane, and a new secret government organization, Sector 7, ends up holding Megatron and the All Spark for captivity.

And so the Transformers and the humans become entangled. Why exactly they just waited for this day and age to begin their attack – is a little unknown. But Spike goes through a "coming of age" story as he is destined to obtain his first car and hopefully get a girl. He ends up by fatefully coming across Bumblebee and their friendship (or love depending from a certain point of view) becomes sealed. In fact, when you first see the Bumblebee in this film as a Camaro, it is right beside an original 1971 yellow Volkswagon bug in the car lot.

I won't go on very much further to release plot points and spoilers of the film. But I can go on and on about some of the other wonderful things in the film. The CGI was absolutely BEAUTIFUL thanks in whole to those wonderful techno geeks at ILM (George Lucas' company Industrial Light and Magic). In fact, it took the computer artists 38 hours to render one frame of the animation. They worked along great with engineers and prop designers to not just make cartoony looking robots – but to truly understand the workings on a Transformer and where all of their parts go (so the theory of their internal black hole is thrown out the window.) Unfortunately there are times where the editing is so fast – you will get a little confused and not sure which Transformer is which.

Overall, the film has moments to make you laugh, cry and get totally lost in the moment of feeling like a kid again. In fact, I was totally giddy every time that I heard the original Transformation noise. They also had a few other little nods and hints to the original – such as the memorable "More than meets the eye" slogan and also a line from the original Transformers film, "One shall rise and one shall fall," although the writers did change it just a little bit. Also supposedly, a song written by Stan Bush (who wrote the hit singles "The Touch" and "Dare" for the 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie) was to be featured on the soundtrack.

On the downside of the film, there is not enough character development for the Transformers themselves. They are considered primarily as secondary to the entire film – and only provide angst for the humans, since it is the survival of the humans that is the pure basis of the film during the alien invasion. There are some interactions of the Autobots as we get to see their characters a bit, but there is only a focus on Megatron when it comes to any development on the Decepticons' side. In fact, I would believe that many fans will be disappointed to find out that Starscream is featured in this film, but never once do we get a hint that he has the characteristics of a conniving traitor that is always waiting for his chance to take over the Decepticons. IN FACT, Starscream is voiced by the legendary voice actor Charles Adler (who originally did the voice for the leader of the Aerialbots, Silverbolt on the animated series), along with Peter Cullen (who reprises his role of Optimus Prime after a twenty year hiatus) are the only two actors to have anything to do with the original Transformers show. Too bad we only get about a few lines out of all of the Decepticons, and sometimes it isn't even in English. Well – here's to a sequel that will have Starscream show his true colors.

And for you fans that think you are going to see a big budget version of your childhood cartoon – think again. Transformers have been around for close to thirty years (if you count back to their original toy line origins in Japan). Within that time, Transformers has undergone MANY changes from using various time lines of continuity based through Japan, the U.K. and the U.S; and from using CONSTANT re-launches of the toy line. You also gotta take into consideration that many and most of the vehicles included in the film are based on GM (due to easier merchandise tie-ins) So I had to explained these elements to the Anarchist that there have been times where the Transformers have turned into other vehicles and have even switched sides due to re-launches. SO Transfans, I can tell you now for the following character changes if you think you are obsessed with the Transformers cartoon:

Iron Hide no longer speaks with a Southern Twang, but still remains true to being a bad ass. He is no longer a red mini-van, and is also no longer voiced by Peter Cullen as he was in the original cartoon. Jazz still acts quite black-tastic, he tends to do little it of break dancing but no use of his special power of using he stereo speakers to cause a ruckuss. The original voice of Jazz was Scatman Corothers, but has since past away. Jazz is now played by Darius McCray who for many years played Eddie on Family Matters (y'know – Urkel's friend?). Darius doesn't do all too bad of a job though, he maintains the cocky jazziness that you might find in Richard Pryor's character of Gus Gorman in Superman III. Ratchet remains to be a modern day Ambulance, but isn't like the pacifist he was on the cartoon – but remains a bit of a warrior using a sort of "bone-saw" weapon. Prime still acts proud, although sometimes he becomes frustrated with the humans and is now a huge ass Peterbilt truck as opposed to his 80's original "cab over" truck. What is also cool is that Prime utilizes a " Vibro blade" that comes out of his fist to decapitate a Decepticon. SO some fans might recall from the opening Transformers pilots, More Than Meets the Eye Part 3, where Prime fights with orangey Vibro Axe from his fist against Megatron's purple Vibro Mace. Bumblebee has changed into a hot little prototype Camaro, but still maintains hot love for Spike. He is also a very sympathetic character and resembles our main bridge between the humans and the Transformers. There is a point where he gets captured that you feel like you are watching Spielberg's E.T. and you just wanna cry out. L

As far as the Decepticons go – I am sure that MANY fans will be disappointed that the very loyal Soundwave doesn't make an appearance (although Soundwave AND UNICRON will be in the sequel!). Although there is a Decepticon that transforms into a boom box, that character is actually called Frenzy, as Frenzy was one of the first released cassette tapes to go with Soundwave. Devastator is featured, although he is not a combining gestalt along with the six Constructicons, but he is a bad ass looking tank. WHY they chose to not keep Megatron as a tank (as his Generation 2 toy mode was) they instead chose to keep 'ol Meggy as a Cybertronian heavy-duty class jet/space ship form. Which, to me, almost puts him just a slight step up above Starscream or perhaps Blackout. Who also transform into a Jet and an artillery chopper (respectively) but Meggy still remains as a evil, sadistic hater of flesh creatures and is voiced by Hugo Weaving whom many of you will know as Elrond Image:Elrond11.jpgfrom the Lord of the Rings, or Agent Smith from the Matrix trilogy. Now, why they wouldn't hire the REAL Megatron (voice-over God Frank Welker is probably to get a little more star power for the film) but who knows – perhaps a Galvatron will be in our futures and Welker or Nimoy will be there. Suppossedly after Bay personally auditioned him, it was claimed that Welker's voice had aged too much and didn't fit the "alien look" of the new Meggy. Although you can hear Welker's voice in the new Transformers video game – go figure.

Finally, I'd just like to end it by repeating myself and saying that you really need to see this film this summer. It has everything that you might need; you will laugh, cry, be on the edge of your seat and be a kid again. I don't care if you are a boy or girl, old or young – it has something for everyone. Although Transformers has ALWAYS been the by-product of marketing ploys to little boys all over the world, this film transcends itself to a mass market, across the sci-fi/fantasy action film genre and some nerds MIGHT even be able to take a girl with them as a date movie because there are some cute scenes between Spike and his girl. Oh yeah, and she is not Carly (who would later go on to marry and give birth to Daniel). Instead she is a very sexy hustler and hot-wiring, hot rod riding goddess – Megan Fox. I feel that this film will be SO successful we are going to see A LOT more block buster movies that will hopefully successfully capture the magic that old toy-lines/animated series had. So best of luck goes to this same crew to make the feature G.I. Joe film and perhaps a sequel or two of Transformers will come about. And who knows, God willing, a prequel pertaining to the origin of the Gobots.

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