In the mid-80s, afternoon TV programming consisted of 2 genres: Oprah/Springer/Geraldo and cartoons made by toy manufacturers. Such classics were made like He-Man, She-Ra, Care Bears, and GI Joe. In an effort to woo young boys into toy stores, one company came up with the idea of combining Legos and Matchbox cars — this was the birth of The Go-bots. A poorly made cartoon series was made. Then a second company said “We can do better!” and did. The Transformers were born, with toys, cartoon, and catchphrase (More than meets the eye). Transformers did so well that an animated movie was rushed to theaters and was received with mixed feelings; the die-hard fans were not happy to see Optimus Prime killed off. Ratings for the series fell until Prime was brought back, but it was too late — America had lost interest in Transformers.
Interest started being renewed in 2002 as those children of the 80s started having their own children and wanted to relive the good ol’ days. Speilberg agreed to produce, which had everyone excited. Then the director was announced….
There is no in between among movie-goers for Michael Bay; you either love his work or hate it. I am more forgiving than some of my friends: I liked The Rock and Armageddon, but agree that Pearl Harbor was the beginning of the end. Of course, Matt Stone and Trey Parker summed it up well in Team America with their ballad about Pearl Harbor. Bay is at a point where he thinks that he is making the most important films ever, as if he was at the head of the James Cameron-produced “Bow to me for my ego is larger than anbody’s bank account” class.
So I found myself cruising home one Sunday afternoon after losing in poker early and decided to stop by AMC Altamonte for a movie. Transformers had just come out so I walked up and grabbed a ticket. After waiting an hour in line outside, we finally made our way into the theater. The previews did not do much for me and I was glad to see only a few.
The movie wasn’t bad — here are the bullet points:
- Shia LaBeouf — good choice; this kid is going to have a long career as long as he stays grounded.
- Special Effects – One thing Michael Bay does do well is realistic special effects. The robots looked great and it was hard to tell the CGI from the rest of the movie (of course ILM was in charge).
- Damn Meadow shot — In Armageddon, Bay used this field with one tree at sunset for scenes between Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler. Being someone who does not do creativity, what does Bay feature TWICE in Transformers? The same daggum meadow and tree — I kept waiting for Steven Tyler to start talking about “not missing a thing”, but then I relaized he wouldn’t be singing that since he had already seen that scene 9 years previously….
- StarScream’s Whiny ass — One of the highlights of the cartoon was the regular attempts by StarScream to overthrow Megatron and his whiny voice when it didn’t happen. The movie gave us no whiny voice and only a slight nod to Megatron’s disdain to StarScream’s ability.
- Decepticons can’t talk? — Even while transformed, all of the robots had voices — that was what made them real. The decision to not have them speak was idiotic.
So, does this mean I hated the movie? Nope. Even with the second hour not being as good as the first, it was still enjoyable.
My advice: see it on the big screen — even with a large-screen HD TV, you will miss stuff from being overwhelmed. Between this and Die Hard, my hopes are being raised for a better second-half of summer at the movies….