July 16, 2007

Transformers - The Review by Dr T

Filed under: film, reviews, authors, Topics, Dr T. — drt @ 3:23 pm


I’ve still got the original Optimus Prime toy. OK, so it’s in my old bedroom in Kent, but my Mum has strict orders to NEVER throw it away. I know what I’m talking about when it comes to Transformers. I was teased at primary school for reading the comics when the rest of the kids were, I dunno, reading whatever was considered cool when you’re ten years old. The Hasbro target market aside, I am exactly the kind of person who the new Transformers movie was made for.

My initial joy at the news of a new Transformers movie was somewhat diminished when Michael Bay was revealed to be the director. Like all cinephiles, I know that of all the directors to admire (Godard, Herzog, Hartley, Kurosawa et al), Mr Bay’s name is never to be mentioned. He seems to want to craft entire films from strings of overstated, hamfisted cliches. The slo-mo, the contra slow music/action sequence, the silhouettes against the sun, the parallax meeting room pan, the ratcheting up of the tension by adding a pointless little kid into the mix, if the list were endless it would at least credit Mr Bay with imagination, but his bag of tricks is shallow indeed.

However, not even Michael Bay can go wrong with the formula of “Big F**k Off Robots Tw@tting Each Other And Transforming Into Cool Stuff”. I mean, what right minded person doesn’t want to see an F-22 fighter jet change mid-flight into a robot that leaps onto a pursuing jet, and then onto another one, smashing them all up with glee… It’s precisely this sort of spectacle that makes one forget about the humdrum reality of inept car-bombs and inconvenient truths.

This film looks amazing. Finally CGI has reached a point where you forget that the robots aren’t really there, not nuts and bolts, just bits and bytes. Although they lack the clean lines of their 80s incarnations, these robots do still look cool. I was a bit disappointed to see that they’d done away with Prime’s face guard and given him a moving mouth (I always thought the old style face guard gave Prime a ‘knight-like’ quality). But I was equally pleased to see that they’d given up on the whole “Megatron is a giant robot that can shrink into a hand-held gun” contradiction. In the film, he’s a flying… something. I know my military jets, and I couldn’t place it.

Apparently the fanboys are up in arms about “Frenzy being the new Jar Jar Binks”. It all comes down to a mis-step in sound effects. The foley artists should have just done some sinister whirring sounds and clicks, but no, it seems they decided to give this Decepticon master of infiltration the personality of Jabba’s Annoying Little Helper from ROTJ. That was wrist slap number one.

Wrist slap number two is that the action sequences are cut too fast. You never really get a proper look at what’s going on, with the camera zooming here and there, and then going all shakey hand-held docudrama style. I’m sure it adds to the visceral impact of the movie and illustrates the madness of war, but really, I’ve seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’, now I just want to see that giant robot shoot up some tanks, the human tragedy of it all can wait til later.

All in all, a great watch. It could have been a LOT worse. It’s no ‘Battlestar Galactica’ quality re-imagining, but it’s certainly Michael Bay’s best film. It’s got some good humour, the girl is well fit, and there’s GIANT ROBOTS BASHING SEVEN SHADES OF CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER! Come on!

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress