Most of you know that I have been dreading the release of Michael Bay's Transformers movie. There were many reasons: Michael Bay generally makes critically unfavorable movies that I think suck; the scriptwriters' credits were unflattering; the new designs of the robots were non-traditional and (to me) unattractive. With all of this in mind, I had practically composed my negative review in my head several days in advance.
Yesterday, Heather and I casually opted to go see the film. We settled into our seats in a surprisingly empty theater for a 7pm holiday showing. Walking out of the theater, my simple review was thus:
• It was not a great movie, but it was an enjoyable kids' flick. Shia LaBeouf carries the film entirely, far more likeable than any other human or robot on-screen.
• The Transformer robot designs are horrible and I wonder what came first: their distracting physiognomy or Bay's decision to shoot every action scene in a confusing blur.
• In my heart, this was a Transformers movie... but not the Transformers movie, and certainly not our Transformers movie.
• Worst. Fucking. Musical Score and Soundtrack. Ever.
Broadly, the plot is fine: Transformers come to Earth seeking powerful life-giving cube thing. The minutiae of the plot, the tiny elements of the story's progression, are ham-handedly dealt with in passing, if at all, and certainly much of the interaction between the government, the soldiers, the secret agents, the hackers and the teenage heroes (and their parents) is completely unbelievable. But it's a kids' movie. The dialogue is serviceable, and some scenes are genuinely funny. Let's just say that, for better or for worse, Bernie Mac is not out of place in the tone of this film. It's not as sophisticated as I would like, but it's not as dumb as, let's say, Armageddon. Of course, another way of looking at it might be: Shia LeBeouf carries the movie.
Sadly, the robots were more like Transmorphers than Transformers. With their million little moving pieces, each robot effectively extinguishes his alt-mode's vehicular personality, burying it into a generic robot form more akin to a Terminator, Alien or Predator than anything resembling a Transformer from, say, the last 25 fucking years. So, they do a new thing, that's their prerogative; I'm just saying it was a sucky new thing. It distanced me as a lifelong fan; the visuals of transformation were more inclined to give me a headache than enthrall me. All you could see was blue/red blur fighting silver blur, since things like arms and legs and body language were lost in a sea of generic components. They reminded me more of those little desktop magnet toys than of Autobots and Decepticons.
Also, for the most part, the Transformers themselves had almost NO individual characterization. 90% of them had none at all, a couple had just enough speaking lines to get a sense of, well, whether they're assholes or not. For instance, in less than 10 seconds of dialogue, we learn that Jazz is "the black guy" Autobot, striking "wassup" poses. He's obviously "down like that, WORD". Etcetera. Ironhide likes to fight. He mentions that once or twice, and really nothing else. Ratchet is a doctor, which apparently doubles for a personality as well. The Decepticon Frenzy, who has perhaps the most screen time of any Transformer in the film (other than Bumblebee's car mode) is some kind of cross between Johnny-Five and a Gremlin; Frenzy's "speech", though, is some kind of cross between R2-D2 and Jabba's jester, Salacious Crumb (if you'll forgive the multiple Star Wars references).
Did I mention that Shia LaBeouf saves the movie? Very personable, that kid.
Megan Fox is hot.
Jon Voigt is old.
Jon Turturro must have needed the cash.
Whoever did the film's score should never be allowed to work again.
But, in the end, I would have to say that the robot designs were the most disappointing and distancing part of the whole film for me. These are simply not Transformers as I know them. The joy of seeing robots transform to cars, planes and other devices using live-action CGI special effects... was not satisfied for me by this movie. Do you get it? I was able to enjoy it because I felt like I was watching a Transformers film in name only. The distant cousin, a re-imagined offspring, a derivative. This is not the movie I waited 20 years to see. This is something wholly different, for a different generation, and the only grudge I hold against it is that now the movie that I do want to see will never be made: instead, they will only make sequels to these Transmorphers.
Oh well. I have the current Transformers comics, written and drawn in an updated but traditional Transformers style while presenting things in a tone closer to my generation's reading level. I have my dozens of toys and my imagination. I never felt like I really needed this movie in the first place, so I don't feel like I've lost anything... except the opportunity.
SPOILER: Bumblebee "pisses" on John Turturro. Yes. Now you know exactly what you're getting into.
. . . if only he pissed on Turturro's sister
- The movie definitely starts to go downhill once the Autobots speak. Optimus Prime should never say "My Bad".
- I'm glad that Hugo Weaving's Megatron didn't sound like Hugo Weaving.
- Yes, the score was The Rock and Armageddon played backwards. But at least there wasn't a "You Got The Touch" type of song.
wait, Hugo Weaving does V.O. work for Megatron?
I see you noticed the similarity to Short Circuit. And yes, Shia LaBoeuf almost saved the movie, amazingly.
-The fight scenes were just blurs of metal and it got boring quickly.
-I was disappointed by Megatron's new design as a jet. He should have been some kind of Cybertronian tank; something like a more advanced-looking form of the first Galvatron.
-Keep in mind, this is a live action movie that portrays a more realistic perspective of the Transformers universe. The intricate way the Transformers transformed had to look like something that would actually work (with highly advanced alien technology of course) in real life, and when they finally have transformed they do look more advanced than a half man, half vehicle thing from a cartoon. The new designs are simply more realistic since they were designed for a live action movie. Botch, how would you have designed the Transformers and the way they transform for a live action flick? Certainly not like a cartoon from the eighties. That would suck.
-Bottom line is the film is a success in the movie business, and remember, just as it is with comic book movies and video game movies, one must consider what Hollywood produces to be a separate world from the comic book, video game, etc. To put it more simply, movies are made for everyone, not just the fans.
I enjoyed the movie overall, but my main complaints were simply that the charactors werent really faithful to their personality and looks. I got used to the "circuitry" look quickly and accepted it; but never really accepted the charactors for who they were SUPPOSED to be. Anyway, I was glad to hear in the first dialogue between starscream and megatron: "you've failed me AGAIN..". I smiled.
Yes. That's another thing that bothered me. Not enough character development, except for Frenzy of course. Optimus Prime looked more like his classic self than anyone, but everyone else was modernized. I would have liked to see Prime with his face-guard up more often. It looked pretty badass.
You're listening to Sade, Adam? What has Portland done to you?
I would have designed the robots closer to the Classics line: modernized, articulated updates of the classic designs. Mind you, I'm more a fan of the toys than the cartoon. I actually sold my DVDs of the cartoon.
If you look on YouTube and elsewhere, you can find plenty of independently made CGI of of transforming cars and trucks using the old designs. Plenty. And they look great, despite what Michael Bay thinks.
I have never seen these awesome videos before! I now see what you mean and I agree with you. The designs in the movie ARE way too fucking intricate. I never collected the toys, so I only thought about the cartoon as I wrote my comments. Thank you kindly sir for enlightening me.
If you do not mind, what is your opinion of Megatron's design as a jet? Personally, I think it sucked and like I said before, he should have had a tank-like form in my opinion.
Some comments on the film and the reaction:
- I have to say, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I too was dreading the re-imaginings of the characters and their forms, but quite honestly was won over by some rather sound reasoning offered by the filmmakers for doing so. They tested the classic Prime and Bumblebee forms in CGI in the earliest stages of pre-production, and concluded that they looked boxy and ridiculous. Having seen the rather expertly done versions of genuine TF re-creations floating around the internet, I have to agree. The old, flat-nosed-truck, box-torso Prime would have been a clown in a movie like this. Plus, they wanted to create an effect that seemed genuinely alien. At the very least, I appreciated something wholly novel and unknown in a live-action version of a story I'm all too familiar with.
- I cannot agree more that Shia LaBeouf made the picture. It was the first thing I came out of the movie talking about. He sold the humor, the awe, the tension all with perfect sincerity. A different casting choice likely would have made it a total failure. Credit Spielberg with finding a star for the film based on talent rather than how blindingly white his smile is.
- I also agree with the many who've sounded off that the character development left much to be desired. I was actually satisfied with their treatments of Prime and Bumblebee (though Prime was somehow even more sanctimonious than he was in the cartoon). My biggest complaint, however, were the Decepticons. It wasn't just weak characterization, it was a total lack of any. The Decepticons were nothing more than killing machines, which robs them of their "band of rebels" quality and reduces them to streamlined Borg. When Megatron gave his "failed me AGAIN" line, I felt teased. To the uninitiated, the line made no sense at all without further character development, so it came off as less of a Megatron idiosyncrasy than as just another bone they threw to the die-hards, akin to the "more than meets the eye" slip-ins.
- For as much as the visuals were jumbled and epileptic, they still had plenty of money shots. Easily the best CGI-driven visuals in film since the Matrix trilogy.
- As I watched the film, and - like Adam, of course - subconsciously lamented from time to time at what the film could have been, I realized something that actually shook me out of any opinion-altering disappointment: the premise of the Transformers is utterly ridiculous. I know we all wanted the visceral, mature, actual "what if" version instead of a 'roided-up kids flick, but after settling in, it dawned on me that the Transformers can't really be anything BUT a kids flick, at least not without overhauling the premise so thoroughly that it would end up more unrecognizable compared to the original than this film was. If we're to take the TFs seriously, a whole host of questions arise: Why are their robot forms anthropomorphic? What could the Cybertronian translation of "Jazz" possibly be? How were the Autobots surprised that war was started by a faction of 'bots calling themselves DECEPTicons (such an awful, awful thorn in the side of anyone who wants to take this story seriously)? I wondered going in to this picture just how they'd handle these and other questions in order to make the whole thing seem real. And what they did is, in retrospect, rather smart. They made it the sort of movie where they didn't have to address any of that. It's completely preposterous popcorn whimsy, as I now begrudgingly admit it should be, and at that level, it delivered well up to the hype.
In closing, I'll say that I think the disappointment in losing an opportunity is premature, for two reasons: 1) Who says the opportunity is lost? 'I Am Legend' is about to get its third film treatment later this summer. With how rabid a fan base exists for the 'formers, I would not be surprised in the least to see yet another new TF film, independent of the franchise and at a time when such CGI wizardry is available on any Mac at Circuit City; and 2) When you really stop to think about just how (deliciously) juvenile the whole premise is, who's to say that the opportunity to make a mature TF film ever really existed in the first place? Like the original Star Trek, so much of what the premise to the Transformers is and ISN'T is lost in the nostalgia.
(P.S.: While I'm not rushing out to buy the soundtrack, I'll take it over Stan Bush and "Weird" Al Yankovic any day. Don't get me wrong, I love me some "Weird" Al. But him and the Transformers are no chocolate and peanut butter.)
I didn't like it.
So far, I'm actually surprised that no one is in here telling you to get fucked, Botch. In a weird twist of irony, I've noticed that the fans of this MOVIE (read: not necessarily the Transformers) are very defensive about how AWESOME! this movie is (AWESOME being the reasoning for how good it is) and calling people who give it a bad review several wonderful homophobic slurs. The sticklers of old are actually more silent online about this movie than I had anticipated, pretty much just offering up the notion that, "I told you it was going to suck and I was right."
I made the same connection with Salacious Crumb and Gremlins that you did with Frenzy, but not Johnny 5. I should have been more astute.
While I didn't necessarily dislike Hugo Weaving's voice, I still think it was a bad choice for Megatron. I kept waiting for Megatron to say, "THESE LOOK LIKE BIG... STRONG... HANDS... DON'T THEY?"
Prime's mouth? Still, no.
I found the humor to be subpar and extremely predictable, if not monotonous. I would go into examples, but I don't want to be one of those spoiler people. (I actually have no problems with blurting spoilers, but this is not my site, either)
Soundtrack? I'm just glad they put all that neu-metal shit at the end of the movie. How many times is Linkin Park going to write that same song?
Was I the only one that thought it was funny that they utilized such outdated racial stereotypes for Jazz, and then punctuated it further at the end of the movie by essentially KILLING THE BLACK GUY?
Decepticons: NO character development at all. NONE.
And I hated the designs. I hated them from the beginning. I will continue to hate them for, probably the next... what... 30, 40 years? I'm got really tired of everyone involved with that movie telling everyone to "just calm down and wait till you see them in action!" And then when I saw them in action, I couldn't tell what the shit was going on.
I also got sick of everyone saying that the character designs from the 80's and 90's were not viable in this day and age. Why? I actually think the movie would have benefited from an update of the old designs, much like IDW is doing with the current comic line. Why is it necessary to have a bazillion moving parts when these things transform? Every camera angle is so close up that you can't actually see the transformation anyways. The way that little shit Frenzy transformed was the most non-viable transformation in the movie... for a device to exist that actually did that would be IMPOSSIBLE, and yet supporters of this movie are STILL bitching about how retarded mass-displacement is? I think I SAW mass displacement several times in this movie. It was called CGI morphing. I'll take a Jumpstarter over that any day.
Too many useless human characters thrown into an unecessarily convoluted plot just for the sake of getting some A-minus list actors on the roster. The Transformers were like guest stars in their own movie.
Finally, why did Optimus want Sam to put the cube in his chest to kill him? What would that have accomplished? Why didn't they just try to put the cube in Megatron's chest from the beginning? I don't get it.
I also think it's going to be funny to see if all these "safe," censorship-happy Transformers message boards are going to allow people to bring up the masturbation scene from what is, for all intents and purposes, a movie made for a new generation of kids.
I expect to see some more casual traffic around here lately, especially with this thread.
I LOVED IT
Sorry adam, I went in there with the LOWEST expectations and was geninuely surprised and laughed out loud quite often. Yes, I agree that the kid saved the movie. But the transforming sound was purrrrffffect. Drool inducing, really. AND yes, I also collected the toys when I was a kid. Barbies suck. no offense girlie girls. I hope Portland does not change you too much. Trina
I went in the lowest expectations also. I totally agree 1000% Shia was the damn man! That is one of the best performances I have seen in a long time. Anyway, The movie was ok. I do also think the Peter Cullen's voice acting also helped the movie at least for me. Also as you say Jazz was "The black guy" he was back in the 80's also with Scatman Crothers doing the voice acting. Besides Optimus Prime he was the only autobot with some character. The other autobots were gay. Me owning 11 Camaro's in my life and buying the 09 Model is the only reason i liked Bumblebee. All in all movie was ok and i would go see the sequel. Again me being a hardcore fan of the 80's would have loved alot more.
Michael Bay,u sux!!! Go watch the cartoons first before making the movie.
It's still not out in the U.K. until 27th of July but from the trailers I've seen I'm also not a fan of the robot designs.
There's way too much going on with them. Did they think that by going overboard with the designs that people would be any more impressed.
When I first heard that this film was being made I thought that the reasoning behind it would be to introduce a new younger generation to the Transformers and sell lots of toys to them (As well as the megafanatics who will by them just for the sake of it). However I think that this will backfire in the toy department as these are the ugliest Transformers ever.
Expect to see them in the bargain bins by Christmas!
It's a pity they didn't ask the company who made the citroen C4 car adverts to do it! The adverts are all over Youtube if you haven't seen them (I doubt you'd get many citroen cars if you don't live in Europe).
I think it's a case of
"More (Too much more)than meets the eye!"
or "More than your eyes can take!"
or maybe I'm just getting old!!
No one has mentioned the new toys! Am I insane or do these not even transform!? Example, the Bumblebee toy in robot form, as seen in the movie, does not transform into a car. Apparently, the designs ARE too complex. If you want a Bumblebee that transforms, it actually looks nothing like the one in the film. So, what's the point of updating the designs if you can't even make them do what they're supposed to do??
"In my heart, this was a Transformers movie... but not the Transformers movie, and certainly not our Transformers movie."
Not to offend the choices in how you view things, but I think that the only way you'll see "our"("your") Transformers movie is if it's a 90 minute animated feature like TMNT. As it stands, to me, Transformers was fine and fun. I personally felt they were "real" in a few scenes, and it's nice they weren't just hulking piles of car chunks. I mean, as nice as the toy designs and look is we've seen, it still stands that I've never seen a Transformer cross his arms over his chest without the worst case of animation cheating ever.
The 'Bay' movie really had nothing to do with the Transformers that I grew up with as a kid, this yet another Hollywood formula flick painfully and sadly successfully capitalising off the name of a once popular fad.
I utterly loathed and despised the robots in the movie, they were obviously designed by some repressed juvenile maniac with an insatiable fetish for spikey bits, twisty whirring thingymeflics and serrated edges.
A little bit of imagination could have gone into the generation 1 models, look at the citreon ad for crying out loud.
I don't give a toss about 'animation cheating', having a chunks of aeroplanes and cars sticking out the robot's backside was exactly what made 'transformers' proper robots in disguise.
And yes all the focus of the movie, was on the human element <big yawn>, in order to appeal to the general popcorn chomping movie masses who Hollywood deem incapable of accepting a movie without a teenage romance.
Another thing I am not a fan of warp speed CGI actions sequences as they just too blurringly fast to follow and comprehend, for pete's sake i'm not the freaking Flash, i don't have superspeed vison!
It was utter garbage in every sense, I guess I'll be avoiding the inevitable sequels and stick with my dust covered vhs of the 1986 cartoon movie.
Maybe when the Hollywood has eventually milked transformers for all its worth, someone will have a decent crack at producing a decent 'Transformers' movie.
You know, if it weren't for us "crotchety old farts" who stood up for the Transformers for the last 20 years, there would BE no new movie. So all you snotty little brats telling us that the "old" transformers were stupid and unrealistic... YES, we DO have a right to complain and YES, this movie SHOULD have been made for US. OUR MOVIE! OURS!
ok. *goes back to eating celery and drinking smart water*
DON'T LIKE THE TRANSFORMERS FLICK? BLAME GEORGE W. BUSH!
An article on Wikipedia details the earliest pre-production efforts of the TF movie, and one element of the story is pretty interesting. Hasbro had been thinking about turning one of its lines into a major summer movie since 2002, and the original plan back then was to launch a G.I. Joe film. With its All-American, Steak-Eating, Mama-Loving, Jesus-Frenching army dudes fighting idiosyncratic terrorist dandies, it seemed like a perfect fit. Then, in March of the following year, Iraq was invaded. Hasbro deemed it in poor taste to do a big-budget "yay army" film while people's sons and daughters were coming home in boxes, so they scraped it. Transformers was next in the dock, and the rest is history.
Man, this thread has been awesome: it's chock-full of old-schoolers. :)
A CGI King Kong took on THREE T-Rex. I saw every punch, bite, roll, and damsel hand switch. Clearly you can have large scale CGI fight scenes and make them work. Maybe Peter Jackson should've directed it.
I thought "Transformers" was great. I think it was an amazing feat to pull off a live-action "Transformers" film in the first place, and I think Bay and Co., especially ILM, did a fantastic job. I enjoyed it more than "POTC: At World's End" and "Spider-Man 3," and I think it was a perfect summer movie.
Here's hoping the sequel(s) will be even better, and maybe have some Dinobot action to boot.
Just saw the movie and every second of it pissed me off. These aren't Transformers period.
I was hoping for a revamped version of old triggerdick but instead got a might morphin pile of crap.
I want to force feed Bay his own testicles coated in anthrax for taking a giant shit on something I dearly love.
If you love the 80s stuff avoid this movie like the plague.
I'm struggling here. I saw the movie on Saturday and i'm an old school fan as well. Likewise I am also a blockbuster addict. I take blockbuster for what they are and I love em for it...
So with that I took 2 heads to this movie. My 'transformers iconic 80's grew up with optimus as kid' head and my 'this is gonna be a kick ass giant robots fight movie' head.
My Second head the kick ass robots head thought it was an ok movie. i too felt the CGI was just blurred to hide the flaws but as whole loved the action. I hated the piss poor comedy-it was too much and there could have been some real emotion in the movie but instead we got that dumb kid pulling some dumb ass wise crack. didn't work for me.
My transformers head actually quite enjoyed it. i've been waiting for an 'adult' formers movie for a long time and i think we got it and whilst I wanted my 80's icons to be cgi'd i think I knew deep down that if they were done like that i'd have probably left feeling like my childhood icons had been exploited and turned into CGI comedy characters.
So, i'm split, I dunno what i want. it wasn't what i got but it was exactly what I wanted as well.
There may have been more characterization of the decepticons than one my realize at first glance. Having seen the movie multiple times the rift between megatron and starscream may have some real depth. When starscream is fying in and out of the jets, he never leaves the group and the jets fire and hit megatron. Starscream shot megatron. This is further exemplified by the fact that a couple of minutes into the credits after the parents have a scene talking, they show starscream flying into space. Starscream backstabbed megatron and flew into space. It was well hidden but rewarding if found. If you watch the movie again, look for it. maybe im making too much out of it, but it is all there.
From what I understand, the movie was loaded with special effects, which would be GREAT if that's your thing. However if you are TransFormers aficionados like us, then they movie sucked because it was not true to the original story. Where was Optimus Prime's trailer? Why were FLAMES painted on him? Starscream looked like a hot mess. And don't EVEN get me started on that pile of silver shit they're calling Megatron!!! I guess I will just watch the original 1980's movie and get the 2007 movie off my brain.
Botch, if you got PHP questions, holla at me!
There is a song on Team America about how Pearl Harbor the movie sucked, but not as bad as Michael Bay. It also makes a very astute observation that Bay missed the point when he directed and co-produced it. The same applies to Michael Bay's Transformers. I lost hope in the movie once I saw the non-Transformer-like designs. They could have just slapped the name Gobots: Battle of the Rock Lords II on this one. I was happy when they got Peter Cullen, but not as much as I would have been If Mikey would have hired Frank Welker also. As for the new designs, I would like to think that I am not an uptight G1 fan, after all I do have a couple of funky Beast Machine Transformers around here somewhere, but Bay's designs just plain suck. It looks like they had all of their armor plating ripped of and there are just a bunch of Transformer skeletons bouncing around with the camera too close. Also, megatron should not have been flying around like Starscream. This movie was clearly suppose to be based on G1 and Bay shouldn't have taken so many liberties (a-la new Godzilla movie) Oh well, I still have my new 20th Anniversary Transformers the Movie.
Reading your comments on this 'film' is soul-stirring. first of all, I'd like to say sorry about my poor English, and I hope it would not bother your reading and understanding. I'm Chinese, as well as a life-long fan of Transformers. I discussed with several freinds (all aged 24 or 25) recently about the film. And to my extreme surprise, most of them, all watched the original version of Transformers (of course, duded in Cantonese) favored the movie very much. They even said that those robots made of metal sticks are cool. Jesus Christ. As you said, the designs are the most unacceptable part for me as well of the whole movie. Sucky sticks. And the worse one is that of Soundwave. Even if it could transform into a tiny radio, it is rediculous to design it as a buffon-like robot. As people of our generation all konw that Soundwave is the counsellor of Magatron, isn't it? But look at this poor guy in the film, just like a toy, or a desperate, weak, silly theif. I couldn't understand how come those freinds would give their applause for such a mercantile film. It makes me upset. May be Transformers should not picturize. For me ,at least. The cartoon in 1990s has no alternatives.
Saw the movie. Mixed feelings.
"In my heart, this was a Transformers movie... but not the Transformers movie, and certainly not our Transformers movie." Totally agree. It's not Transformers in everything but name. Sad that Hasbro has to whore out the TF name like that.
With that being said, I did enjoy the movie. As a movie, it was great - nice pace, nice action, humour at the right time (yes, Shia was good), reasonably sufficient characterization. I know, Decepticons not characterised. My take is that Bay took it to the extreme and made Decepticons as militaristic as he could- cold, ruthless, efficient, does not waste energon on useless chatter (including talking to each other). Afterall, Decepticons were the 'military models' (a la War Dawn). Still, this movie could have been called 'Giant fucking robots from Mars/Venus/Pluto/Space' and still could have worked; it didn't need to tarnish the legendary 'Transformers' brand name.
Knowing how die hard I am about the vintage Transformer cartoons and toys, i would never care for the movie as much as i care about the TFs of the 80s.
I'd just go along for the ride for now and get off when it ceases to be entertaining.