With a free weekend from the family, I went out with my good friend Mr. Gene (more on him later, much later) to see Transformers. The first mistake was getting to the show 5 minutes before the movie started which left us with the worst seats in the house – right up front in the first row. (I still have a creak in my neck, oy!) Nonetheless, I was still eager to see the Autobots and Decepticons fight it out on the big screen. (Until I saw the trailer for the next J.J. Abrams project – next blog entry, I promise)
I must start by saying that Shia Lebouf (Even Steven, Holes) gave a great and energetic performance despite the weakness in the story and plot. While I did not like his appearance on Saturday Night Live, one cold tell from his opening monologue how happy he was about being in the Transformers movie and the now filming Indiana Jones 4. He is definitely a great talent to watch out for.
Another glowing point to mention was the brilliance in the daytime animation of the Autobots. Noticed how I said the daytime, not nighttime, animation of the Autobots, not the Decepticons. There was a beautiful long shot of the Autobots taking amongst themselves with the sun setting down on them. They were fluid in their movements and extra photo-realistic. This was way beyond any computer animated Beast Wars episode could muster.
The movie suffers a great deal from Michael Bay’s handling. Mr. Gene and I were discussing who else could have film this. There is no way Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator) would even touch this with his talent. I thought George Miller would have been an excellent choice since I loved Happy Feet, Babe, and the best segment of the Twilight Zone: The Movie – Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. However, Michael Bay was the go to guy to make the Transformers happen. I have never been an avid fan of his work. Most of his action scenes, while eye candy, offered little to move along the story along plus his character development leaves a lot to be desired. Bay’s work makes Waterworld look like Lord of the Rings.
Moving on to the Decepticons, I couldn’t get a complete view of them and forget Megatron. He was the most under used character through out the film until to finale and the rendering was horrendous. Unlike this movie, the 2D animated series, one could tell who the characters were and be able to tell them apart like Soundwave from Starscream. In addition, most of the time the composition of the shots of the bots and cons fighting were too close and became increasingly unwatchable and difficult to see who was fighting who.
In closing, the only reason I watched this movie was that Mr. Gene and I are Transformers fans. I’m not sure how this would appeal to a movie watcher who has no idea what a Transformer is. Nevertheless, as I mentioned earlier, Transformers had some good points to satisfy the die-hard fans but just not enough to win me over. Save you money and watch on a free movie weekend on cable when there is really, really nothing to do.
Aside note, I know Thundercats is another movie treatment in the works. I wish is for the makers to get it right or at least make it interesting to watch. For example, I loved watching Josie and the Pussycats both on eArth and in space. The live action movie with Tara Reid (great Melanie), Rosario Dawson (needs to be on my list) and Rachel Leigh Cook (almost on the list) was brilliant in its direction with smart and funny dialogue and overall a great sense of fun. Or the live action Scooby Doo was another example; very cool. (Hmmm, can’t forget Velma. Must remember to put her on the list, girls with glasses.)
Would a direct translation of the animated series worked? Hard to say and depends on having a core audience vs. non-fanatic fans; which weighs more? With the Transformers, the idea was there to give something to the core fans but I felt, again, was not enough. The audience for the film was non-Transformers fans, which the studio played into the lowest common denominator. I’m not trying to be mean that all moviegoers have no taste but rather studios have released crappy movies, hyped it up make it seem greater than it is with the hope people will gobble it up. I expect better and so should you.