Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Review: Transformers

TransformersWell, I finally am getting around to writing this thing. I know it's been two weeks since I saw the movie, but I had noted down the most relevant parts for the review early on. Anyhow, I dragged the wife to this thing. While it wasn't over her unending objections, she wasn't exactly thrilled with the thought of going to the movie.

After all, it's a movie about giant robots. That started life as a cartoon. From Japan.

To say she was happy about going to see this, would probably be pushing things. Content? That's probably a fairly accurate description of her emotions over the whole thing.

Much to her surprise, she enjoyed it. She thought that it didn't need half of the big battle scene at the end, but over all she enjoyed it.

Of course, being the big fan of blowing things up that I am, it's no surprise that I disagreed with that. Additionally, I'm a guy, I have to disagree with that sentiment on principal.

Characters are basically the hero (Sam Witwicky played by Shia LeBeouf), the love interest (Mikaela Banes played by Megan Fox) and then the giant robots (the sweet, sweet awesomeness). In just about everything here, you can see the Japanese roots of this movie. Of course the obviousness of the giant robots, but even above and beyond that in the character arc for Sam. He starts out the movie as the geek. Picked upon by his peers. Laughed at by his teachers. Ignored by the love interest. Then he gets the macguffin , and begins to change, transforming from the geek to someone who stands up for himself, someone worthy of the girl. It's a popular character arc found in many mangas and animes.

The Megan Fox character is less interesting as anything above and beyond eye candy. Sure, she has a well defined character, and we're supposed to gather that despite being the 'pretty girl' that she would look beyond the outer shell of the geek to love him for who he is. Of course, this is the type of heroine who always stars opposite of the Sam-style characters. Personally, I'd love for one of these days to have the 'pretty girl' laugh at the geek character, telling him that there's no way she'd be seen with him.

Optimus PrimeThen we have the robots. These guys are just awesome. Some of the best special effects that I've yet. In truth, I was hesitant about these guys when rumors of the movie first started appearing. Likewise, when the first images of the Optimus Prime truck appeared, I was scared of what Micheal Bay was doing to these characters. Boy, oh boy, were my fears unfounded. Their designs were great, and everything on the robots actually looked like it was transformable. A stand-up job on them. Then the insertion of the CG models into the 'real world' of the actors is so flawless, it's downright amazing.

Additionally, the voice actors were great as well. It doesn't hurt that Peter Cullen has been Optimus Prime since the first U.S. cartoon, but every speaking robot just sounded awesome. This is why anime needs to pay for decent voice actors-when you get good actors for these things, then it works, and it works well. When you're cheap about these things, then you get the screaming-children you find in Dragon Ball Z.

The plot was a basic, save the world, Micheal Bay, explosion, summer blockbuster. There's nothing wrong with this plot, and it's the type of plot which Michael Bay excels at. What's better is that there is enough of a love story in the Sam/Mikaela story arc to interest my significant other, and to make her actually interested in the movie. Ultimately though, the plot was a vehicle for the action rather than a vehicle to showcase the characters. Which again is somewhat typical of Micheal Bay and the type of movie which he excels at.

Music was hit and miss. The composer was Steve Jablonsky-who I had never heard of before, and a quick look-up on IMDB.com reveals that the only thing that I've ever even seen which he had worked on in the past was Desperate Housewives. I'm sure he's a wonderful composer, but he just did not do that good of a job here. The music was too melodramatic in some places, attempting to push what the characters are going through down our throats. Of course, I could just be spoiled by John Williams' work on Star Wars, and music is not exactly my forte, what with being tone deaf and all.

Now, for a discussion on the climax of the whole thing. The big fight at the end. As much as it pains me to admit it, my wife was right. They could have shaved a good fifteen minutes from the fight scenes - like the big chunks of screen time taken up with giant robots spinning in the air - and dropped it. At some point after the ending act started and before the big finale, even my attention had started to wander. Now, with that said, I can't think of any particular portion which could be effectively cut and still have the story and the fight be as awesome as it ended up being. So, what that boils down to is while the fight felt too long, it would not have been as effective any shorter.

Overall, I loved this movie. The voice-acting for the Transformers were great. Shia LeBeouf was great as Sam WitWicky. The action scenes were just cool, and the robots were even better. The downside was that Megan Fox didn't give the best performance of her career here, of course her filmography isn't that impressive, as most of her work are a number of one-shots on television series. The only other movie she starred in that I recognized was Confessions of a Teenaged Drama Queen.

And I'm not even going to go into John Turturro's performance, in what should have been a straight-laced special agent who wears super-hero underwear beneath his suit. Instead we get this horrid Italian-cop thing that's so over-the-top it's not even funny.

New CamaroThen there is the car. This is the car that I plan on purchasing next (except I want mine to be black and with a rag-top). Mid-movie, Bumblebee changes his vehicle mode into the brand new Camaro. I love and want this car, with the above exceptions. Heck, I could almost think it was worth the price of the ticket just to be able to see this car running on the screen.

In the end, I have to give this a 3 out of 4. I wanted to give it a higher ranking, but the less-than-stellar music and some poor acting here an there pushed down the grade for this otherwise stellar movie.


Olivier Gagnon Marchand said...

Really nice review. It's actually the best movie I saw this year because of its incredible visual.

Stephen Wrighton said...


And yes, the visuals were awesome, especially for the Transformers themselves. Currently, I'd have to say it's the best I've seen this year as well.

But I have high hopes for Harry Potter.

Cmate said...

Transformers was totally cool!

Stephen Wrighton said...

Oh most assuredly it rocked!

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