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Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Summer Movie Season May Be Back

In this post I outlined precisely what my expectations were for The Transformers. Put simply, I wanted something to help me at least briefly recapture my childhood and be a nice little escape for a few hours. I was going to be very disappointed if Michael Bay tried to make a statement.

I was not disappointed.

In each one, there was a tiny bit of sermonizing. John McClane tells hacker kid that the only reason he's a "hero" is that there's nobody else around who will do what needs to be done. If there were, he'd let them do it in an instant. Optimus Prime tells the Autobots that humanity is worth saving because there is the capability of good, and that all sentient beings deserve the right to make their own mistakes.

None of this hippy-dippie "Follow your dreams!" or "You can do anything if you believe in yourself" claptrap. Just the belief that you gotta do what you gotta do. And the best part?

Neither of these "sermons" lasted more than 20 seconds. They were only there to let you catch your breath before more stuff started to blow up. And that's just the way a summer movie should be. There are people who expect philosophizing out of cinema. These are exactly the same people who would use the word "cinema" with a straight face. These are probably the same morons who look to musicians for moral guidance. My advice - these people think they're smart. Let them have their fantasy world. Just ignore them.

Now - on to the review.

Now, for full disclosure. I am a fan of Transformers Generation 1. ES1 got me Season 1 on DVD a few years ago. I haven't seen seasons 2 - 4 in a few years, though I have watched an old VHS copy of the original movie a few times since then. I saw an episode or two of the "Headmasters" series. I know practically nothing about the beastial series that followed. Suffice it to say, I'm an old school fan. All references will be to Generation 1.

Perhaps the greatest departure in this movie from the TV series is in the focus. In the original TV series, the main characters were the Autobots; Spike or Chip were main characters in a few episodes, but the primary focus was on the Autobots. The movie centers around Sam (who is only referred to as "Spike" in the credits). This is to be understood. This movie is designed to introduce the characters. It very much has the feel of a "beginning of a new movie franchise." Transformers 2 has already been greenlit. This is a good thing.

There are also a few changes in the vehicle forms of the Transformers, some for practical considerations, some because VW & Porsche decided to go wimpy, exercising a level of blatant stupidity I do not expect from a company that puts such care and craftsmanship into their cars. Another change is that the Transformers can themselves decide what they want to transform into - enabling them to scan a vehicle and change themselves so they can take that form.

All in all, however, these were minor items. The bottom line is that this movie was not designed for children. This movie was designed for those who were children when the original series was being produced. You need to be able to appreciate a bit of juvenile humor. You need to appreciate incredibly well-done action sequences. You need to be able to suspend disbelief. Above all, you need to be the sort of person who would willingly go to see a movie in which alien robots transform into cars and trucks to fight each other.

The movie begins with Sam acquiring Bumblebee, and soon being chased by Decepticons. Simultaneously, you have a group of Air Force special ops troops running through the desert in Qatar, the only survivors of a Decpticon attack on their base. Bumblebee calls for help. Before the climactic battle you have the Air Force guys, Sam, his rather attractive young lady friend, and 5 Autobots fighting 8 Decepticons. There's not so much a 'plot' as a sequence of events.

Things blow up. More things blow up. See where this is going?

If I have one complaint, it is about some of the action sequences. In an effort to 'draw you in,' some scenes are very frenetic. With fast moving cameras and clouds of debris, it is very difficult to see what is happening. I understand what they were doing, but I didn't like it. You might. ES1 did. I didn't.

Also, a bit more time for Starscream and Megatron to argue would've been nice.

Bottom line - this movie was as close to perfect as you could get. It was a great introduction to those who are unfamiliar with any of the series. It was a great reintroduction for those who have been away. All in all, it was a very good re-imagining of the story. The ending was the perfect setup for a sequel, or series of sequels.

The audience was drawn in and kept in. When ES1 & I saw Attack of the Clones on opening night, no one had ever seen Yoda fight before. When he walked into the room at the climactic battle with Dooku, someone shouted "Yeah! Open up a can of Whoop-ass!" The level of enthusiasm then pales in comparison to what we experienced the other night. The level was very high, and was maintained for close to 3 hours.

You will enjoy this one. Just leave the kids at home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Pete. Can't wait to see it again digitally.

I walked out of it, called my brother and said: "That. Was. F*cking. AWESOME."

Oh, and I now own the 2-disc DVD of the original movie. Nice set if you don't already have it (at least the film is in widescreen).

TF2 hasn't been 'officially' greenlit, but I assume the press release will be out after the weekend grosses become official on Monday morning. $37m in two days, not bad.


12:59 AM  
Blogger Obi-Wandreas, The Funky Viking said...

Cool; I won't be picking up the DVD until we get a new TV. The movie was made in a weird 1.4:1 aspect ratio, and then crammed into a 16:9 Anamorphic frame. Which means that since our TV is a traditional 4:3, we'll have to put up with black bars on all 4 sides. Annoying.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Mister Teacher said...

I thought it was pretty freaking awesome too. I would definitely see it again before it's out of the theaters.
My brother and I put together a funny little YouTube video about a week before it came out, where we reviewed the preview. If you want to check it out, go here:

5:13 PM  

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