Friday, September 21, 2007

Repeat Bidness: Transformers

Tricked Out & Worth the Ride

Release: 07/03/2007
IMAX Release: 09/21/2007

Rated PG-13
2 hours, 24 minutes
(IMAX 5 minutes longer!)


Although I haven't watched the extended IMAX version of "Transformers" I feel the extra five minutes can't really alter my original opinion of the film...

At long last the day has come. Producer Steven Spielberg (*War of the Worlds) summoned director Michael Bay (*Armageddon) and asked that he use his gift for creating grandiose displays of mind-numbing action to bring the greatest cartoon of the last twenty years to life. No, “The Simpsons Movie” was July 27 (plug!). For those living under a rock for the past year, I am, of course, referring to “Transformers.”

The premise is simple: a group of evil alien robots from a distant and long destroyed planet have come to Earth seeking their planet’s life source, the All Spark. These Decepticons have remained hidden to humans but now make themselves known as they come close to discovering the All Spark’s location. Luckily for humanity, the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, have come to Earth to stop their nemeses, the Decepticons, from using the All Spark to destroy all of humanity.

Shia LeBeouf (*Constantine) stars as Sam Witwicky, a fast-talking teenager who is hocking his family heritage to save enough cash to buy his first car (and, hopefully, some measure of coolness). Thanks to his stingy dad, the fruits of his eBay labors buy him a “classic” Camaro. It turns out that Sam’s Camaro is actually Bumblebee, a scout for the Autobot forces. Remember his great-grandpa’s junk that he’s been selling? It’s really the key to locating the aforementioned All Spark, which thrusts Sam right into the middle of the battle for humanity’s survival.

As film aficionados, do we care that the details of the story, although lengthy, still leave a lot unexplained? Do we care that Jon Voight (*Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) has an accent that comes and goes from scene to scene? Do we care that the hilarious Bernie Mac, the sexy Josh Duhamel (Turistas), and the totally hot Aussie Rachel Taylor are wasted in the movie? The answer to these questions: NO! But what about the die-hard Transformers fans? Do we care that LeBeouf’s character is called Sam and not Spike? Do we care that the film’s creators tweaked the origin story somewhat? Do we care about the look of the Transformers and that Bumblebee is a Camaro and not a VW bug? NO! Audiences, both long-time fans and summer moviegoers, will flock to see this film because they want to see brightly colored Autobots and menacing Decepticons transforming from vehicles into robots as they kick each other’s metal asses.

That may sound a bit flippant but it’s true. “Transformers” is the very definition of a summer popcorn flick. LeBeouf is great at shucking, jiving and delivering cheesy lines for the camera. The writers throw in tons of campy moments for both actors and robots alike to give audiences some cheer to counterbalance the action. They also lift lines directly from the old television series and the animated movie that should bring warm fuzzies to fans. The biggest instance of nostalgia for me was hearing Peter Cullen voicing Optimus Prime. It was like I was lying in the living room after school with a soda and Little Debbie cake in my hand.

But juvenile humor isn’t the main draw; it’s the action, and Michael Bay doesn’t disappoint. The Decepticon attacks are brutal and vicious. The aerial assault featuring Starscream is one of the most phenomenal. Not to sound corny, but the battles between the Autobots and Decepticons truly are more than meets the eye. No, really; the expansive and destructive landscape laid for the fights feel overwhelming at times, especially with a nearly two-and-a-half hour runtime. With all the dust, rubble, flames, and big F’n robots flying everywhere – a second viewing of the film just to catch everything that happens may be warranted to sort through the visual debris.

Dirty Undies
Buff soldier men, a hottie computer programmer and the big-screen debut of Megan Fox, who plays the way-too-hot-for-high-school Mikaela, satisfy the PG-13’s sex appeal standards. The dialogue also has the authentic bite of sexually repressed teenagers. There is some foul language, but the worst of it is narrowly avoided, thanks to conveniently timed explosions. As for action, LeBeouf runs around like a young Indiana Jones, gathering bruises while evading the Decepticon’s clutches. The soldiers suffer heavy casualties as they fight their way to safety. If robot violence offends you, you may want to stay home because the Transformers have a take-no-prisoners mentality when they are duking it out.

The Money Shot
After seeing “Transformers” in living color, I want to see more! I want to see Optimus, Bumblebee, Ironhide and others in bigger stories. And isn’t that what a summer blockbuster should do? Shouldn’t it make you want to stand and cheer and get you psyched about seeing these characters overcoming peril once again in a summer yet to come? Knowing Hollywood, we’ll undoubtedly be getting sequels long after the fans have stopped caring, so for now let’s just enjoy the exhilaration of the new big thing.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

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