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Review: Transformers

9 10

I'm one of those people that still watches the old Transformers cartoons in my free time. I'm also one of those guys who still wonders where Snarl disappeared to in the '86 movie, or what exactly Petro-Rabbits are. And I'm also one of those guys that saw the trailer for Bay's TRANSFORMERS and went nuts. That's how I tell you guys that I went into the cinema for this flick beaming, and just dying to give it a 10/10 score. I didn't leave the cinema thinking it deserved a 10, that would be impossibly generous. But I'd give this thing as damn near to a perfect score as I could without bordering on hyperbole.

I'm torn between citing the action scenes or Shia Labeouf (the Beef) as the film's biggest winner, and surprisingly for a Bay flick, I feel impelled to go with the latter. Make no mistake, the boy is going to be a star. If I was Bay I'd tie him up and force him to sign on to any film he ever makes. I walked into TRANSFORMERS thinking that I was going to see a movie about giant robots kicking ass, but I left knowing that I'd seen a movie about a really, really, really funny kid and his first car. With the Transformers more as a side note. Saying that might make you cringe - I know that if I read that before seeing the flick I'd cringe - but all I can say is that it works and once you see the thing you'll understand. 

So what then, of the action? Several of the action scenes I have to say, are fairly poor. Not that they aren't huge or thrilling, just that sometimes I think they are undermined by poor story-boarding or typical Bayist quickie-cut overkill. Sometimes, when action sequences could have been really sweet, it looks like Bay took the camera, punted it across the lot and then kept the footage out of spite. Still though, the final 45 minutes (which basically consist of one long action scenes) are breath-taking. Sandwiched between that awesome clash we've been cock-teased over in the trailer (between Prime and Bonecrusher on the freeway), and the final stand-off between Prime and Megatron, we get what is essentially the best action scene I think I've ever seen. I'm sure a lot of you will deride that as cavalier hyperbole (and it might be), but without spoiling anything for you schmoes, when Starscream finally gets his turn to waste some suckers, he does it with aplomb.

And it is a truly wonderous scene. At the very least, the coolest scene I've seen in a long, long time.

So what was bad? Well first and foremost, the music was - in my opinion - f*cking terrible. I get the impression Bay listens to the Billboard Top 20 and not a god damned thing else. The Linkin Park track you hear in the trailers isn't what I'm talking about here. Other than that, the score is typically Bayist, and probably would have been heartfelt or something if we cared about the humans whose lives were in danger. We don't of course. Except for Labeouf, all we care about is the Bots...

And there are problems here too. My major gripe with the Transformers is with the designs. I still don't understand why the models couldn't have been the original ones. I'm color-blind so maybe this is just me, but a lot of the time I couldn't for the life of me, figure out which non-Prime Autobot was which. Why couldn't they just use the models they used in the cartoons? That's sort of an underlying problem with this flick: that this movie wasn't anywhere near as faithful as I would have liked. The writers threw us fanboys a couple of courtesy gems, mostly in the form of recycled dialogue, but there could have been a lot more. For example, why not just call the 'Allspark', Energon? And once you see the movie, with one of the plot mechanisms used, you'll be scratching your head as to why Megatron couldn't transform into a gun.

Still though, problems with faithfulness are just gripes for fanboys. They do not, a bad movie make.

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, I thought Hugo Weaving was stellar as Megatron. Seriously, I am a BIG TRANSFORMERS geek, so I know how horrible it is to contemplate Welker not voicing Megatron, but I thought Weaving nailed it. Problem here though, is that he's hardly in the film. Oh, he absolutely owns the screen when he's there, but it's just not enough. He also - as I'm sure you know - looks nothing like the original Megs. Which is a shame. He doesn't have the huge f*ck off arm cannon, and he looks like he's supposed to transform into a plate of silverware.
There's also way too little Starscream. Megatron takes a dig at him in typical Transformers fashion, with a line that was blatantly thrown in to appease the fanboys but it just sounds stupid because there's absolutely no build-up. Every Transformers fan knows that Starscream is one of the most iconic and beloved characters in the series, how he's treated in this flick is not far from blasphemous. I guess he DID have the aforementioned almost orgasm-inducing action scene.

I know I haven't said anything about Josh Duhamel, Tyrese and the rest of the human cast, but really they didn't matter to me at all. They all just basically did what they were supposed to, nothing special. Filling time. Megan Fox was smoking hot, but I'm pretty sure she was just taking a page out of Matthew Perry's book and playing herself. John Turturro was - in my opinion - horrible. There is a whole portion of the movie that deals with 'Sector Seven' and if it were me, I'd have just cut the entire thing. And not just to lose Turturro's performance. Although that would have been justification enough. Kevin Dunn and Julie White are great as Labeouf's folks. Two real surprises: Anthony Anderson is funny. Hilarious even. And Rachael Taylor pips Fox for my hottest chick in the flick.

Plot? Well to be honest it's less than paper thin and there are holes you could shove a planet through. But the movie is so good and so funny that you don't even notice.

All of you people that are refusing to see the film because Bay put flames on Prime: you'll be the loser if you don't check TRANSFORMERS out.

My rating: 8.5/10 -- James Thoo




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