Friday, June 29, 2007

Movie Review: Transformers

*Andy wanted this not to be a Transformers movie.
I mean just who are these robots in disguise as the Transformers?
(This review has been partially edited on 9th July 2007. Andy felt a need to review his review.)

Transformers is a movie about alien robots divided into good (Autobots) and evil (Decepticons) raging a war between each other while searching for a cube known as the Allspark which is a source of life for them that has found its way into earth.

From the cartoons in its 80s days and a movie version in two-dimensional rendering, it has found a new source of life when DreamWorks, Paramount and Hasbro decided to make a blockbuster movie franchise out of it.
This 2007 summer movie will be the first of a trilogy with two sequels already confirmed.

But after watching it, I felt an amount of disgust about it.
I’m not saying that it is a bad film but I cannot say that it is good either.
Despite the fact that I understand Transformers would undoubtedly become a hit among the masses for many factors…
I still could not like it.

I raised a question.
Why do they make movies like this?

I stared at this question long and hard.
This is a commercial film for the mass market.
A large population on earth knew what the Transformers are.
It will generate lots of money for the companies involved.
I shall repeat it; this is a commercial film for the mass market.

Talk about the number of toys a movie like Transformers can sell.
Hasbro is going to be rich.
Talk about product placements in a movie like Transformers with the names of Panasonic, Nokia, Chevrolet, GMC and the likes showing up.
Product marketing cannot be more obvious.
It’s all in the money.

Money makes the world goes round.
So this is earth and the human race, the world that Optimus Prime and his Autobots are trying to save?

What a sorry state the movie industry has transformed into.

With a budget of $147million, the moviemakers totally changed the Transformers.
The Autobots and the Decepticons no longer resemble the Transformers of the 80s.
Instead of transforming, the robots actually morphed themselves into auto-vehicles, helicopters and jet-planes.
That is uncool to me because transformation and morphing are two different elements altogether.

The good about this film fell solely on the CGI and special effects.
The film looked cool owing much to the efforts put in by the CGI and special effects team.

The action however left lots to be desired.
The sequences were unimaginative.
It is boring to see things happening the same way again and again.
Things were just either blowing up or crashing down.
The actions felt like a collection of videos from “Amazing Car Chases” or “Amazing Plane Crashes” put together.
There were no definition and aesthetics so to speak.

The talk on aesthetics would lead me to the thought on the robot's design.
Over elaboration and complexity marred the originality of the Transformers.
Director Michael Bay made most of the “Big” decisions in creating this movie.
Namely he changed Bumblebee from a Volkswagen Beetle into a Chevrolet Camaro and he also influenced the design of the robots by suggesting that the classic “boxy” style would look fake in a three-dimensional environment and thus introduced a complex mechanical look with thousands of visible pieces instead.
It was questionable why executive producer Steven Spielberg wanted him to direct this film.
Michael Bay did have the thought about Transformers being a “stupid toy movie” for a start.

It is really OK to change things around by giving them a more recent and modern feel but origin still has to be respected.
I find that missing from this movie.

What I found was a real jumble of things instead.
Let me first make a list of other movies.
Batman, Short Circuit, Robocop, Terminator, Gremlins, Armageddon and M.I.B all seem to appear in Transformers sparking me to think toward a lack of creativity on the side of the moviemakers.

Take for instance a scene where Bumblebee beamed a symbol of the Autobots into the night sky.
Isn’t that Batman?

And how about having the Decepticon’s spy, Frenzy, looking and behaving like an evil Gremlin while demonstrating an ability to retrieve data from a computer mainframe by stabbing into it like what Robocop did.

Now tell me why the only way alien life forms can arrive on earth is through a meteor crashing down and then being bare-naked needed to find clothing to disguise themselves among humans?

Sector 7, a top-secret government agency dealing with the topic of extra-terrestrial is just M.I.B aren’t they?

Transformers just cannot be Sci-Fi and be happy about it; they have to pull in a military angle of the Iraq war to make this into a war film.

And if that is not enough why not have a teenager become a hero for holding the key to victory against the Decepticons and then reward his heroism with a hot and sexy female in Megan Fox.
This should be so appealing to the teenage audience.

Besides the jumble, Transformers also malfunction in way of pacing.
It is one action after another without consideration for character development and story building.
One moment there’s a war going on, next moment there’s a car chase and next robots will pitch against one another like a wrestling match.

The lack of considerations does not end with the script.
Cinematography for the movie lack a sense of dynamism and beauty.
I couldn't make out the purpose of the camera movements.
I could only think that the director was creating an experience of chaos with the camera shakes going along with the sound effects of mainly the bass of "boom", "boom" and "boom" to give us a truly cinematic experience.
It was a headache.

I know most people will enjoy a movie like Transformers because of the CGI and actions.
I too am someone who enjoys movie of that sort if they were well done.
Michael Bay's attempt on a Transformers movie that was filled with explosions, crashes and cheap humor however was not.

There really should be more than meets the eye in terms of better values unseen here in Transformers.

(What I found after reading close to a thousand comments on other movie sites about the Transformers is that most people who didn't like the film really wanted the film to be good. Many of those who liked the film however just didn't really cared much because they felt that it was just a movie about robots fighting robots with awesome effects that looked cool.)

Movie Link:

Related articles (Updated 5th July 2007):
This is NOT a real Transformers movie
Transformers - Then & Now
Why the original Transformers is better than Michael Bay's.

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