Jul 2, 2007

[Movies] Transformers

TransformersI've been a hardcore Transformers fan for most of my life. The concept of amazing robots hiding in plain sight without us really knowing always bewildered me and I would constantly wish that the next passing vehicle would suddenly transform into something else.

Of course when they announced the creation of a new live-action movie for the Transformers series, I became both terribly excited and pretty scared too. While I thought it would be great to see the Transformers brought to life using modern animation and special effects technology, I was also afraid that my core image of the series, using the original show and the comic books as "canon" would be terribly challenged by whatever Hollywood would come up with as a plot.

While the Michael Bay film is not a faithful adaptation of the original series, it is nonetheless a stunning piece of word. It reminds me of the tag line used for the Generation 2 line of comics before that read, "This is not your father's Autobot." This movie may not be faithful to the original series, it is a definite must-see for both the fan and the non-fan alike. I'll try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but the movie is too good for the fan-boy in me not to jump up and start ranting and raving about the smallest details.

And it's going to be a rather long review. You have been warned.

The core story for this updated version of Transformers as a movie still holds the core story as a base. We're still talking about the intergalactic war of the noble Autobots versus the evil Decepticons. They have spread all over the galaxy to find a way to end the war one way or another - in the cartoons it was enough energy to restore their home planet of Cybertron. In the movie it involves an unusual artifact known as the Allspark, something that is combination of the "spark" concept used in the comics and later starting in the Beast Wars series and other artifacts of Transformers lore like Vector Sigma, the living computer which was said to be the only thing that could give new Transformers personalities and perhaps even those funny energon cubes of the original cartoon.

As always, the Autobots are the ones who bond with the humans. The relationship between Sam "Spike" Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) and Bumblebee is downright heartwarming, like how any boy would bond with a massively advanced alien transforming-robot. The Deceptions remains largely a mystery in terms of character for most of the movie since all they do is attack people, buildings, bases and whatnot.

Kudos on character development on the human / Autobot side, though. There are a lot of bit players that are extremely memorable like Sam's parents or even the used car salesman (Bernie Mac). Even the Autobots are quite "human" in their personalities and mannerisms which helps you associate with them more. Bumblebee remains to be the apple of everyone's eye given his humorous way of communicating that had the entire theater erupting into laughter several times throughout the movie.

The movie has a lot of easter eggs for the attentive fan ranging from little comments and lines made by the characters that all reference the original series somehow, which is cool. A lot of the dialog feels a bit cheesy - but then at its core, this is still a movie based on a children's movie, so it becomes part of the appeal. It's something approaching the level of campiness, but not quite. Either way, it's great. Come on admit it, it sent shivers down your spine to hear Peter Cullen reprise his role as the iconic Optimus Prime, too, right? Now that is CAMPY!

The greatest thing about this movie would definitely have to be the special effects. This is the most organic we've ever seen the Transformers to be (and don't even try to compare this to the Beast Wars series) given the fluidity of their movements and the one million and one moving parts involved in every single Transformer. Kudos to ILM for another stellar job (and perhaps an Oscar nod next year?) in bringing them to life! To add to that, the action sequences just blow your mind given (1) how many there are, (2) how lengthy they tend to get and (3) the perpetual hard-on it'll give any hardcore fan boy of the series. I'm talking the creaming-in-your-pants level of coolness!

My only gripes, really, would have to be the lack of memorable characters on the Decepticon side due to (1) lack of character development and (2) use of uncommon Transformers. A lot of us in the blogosphere attribute this to possible licensing issues related to some of the more popular names, but then who can tell really? I just feel personally miffed that one of my all-time favorite Transformers, Soundwave, wasn't in the movie. And yet we had Frenzy? Worse, we immortalized Micromasters like Barricade instead of him? Harsh!

There are other somewhat "controversial" Transformer naming choices that will certainly make you pause when you encounter them in the movie. Well, you'll pause if you've ever been familiar with the original Transformers to begin with, I guess.

The movie leaves a generous door open for sequels, which is great since I'm sure once this movie gets fully released globally, the clamor for more will be deafening. After so many bombs during this multi-million dollar summer season of sorts, Transformers has become the catalyst for change, perhaps preparing us for better movies yet to come. Can anyone say Harry Potter?

This is now one of my most favorite movies of all time, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a die-hard fan of the series. This is definitely not my father's Autobot, so to speak, but this is definitely a lot more than meets the eye.


  1. Thanks for this review, Rocky; I guess you've made a believer of me......

  2. that makes me glad...it's my pleasure to welcome other Cybertronians into the light, haha

  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4TiviWhhQA for laziest transformer fan movie ever