11.01.2007

Transformers - Why Micheal Bay Is the David Copperfield of Film

Let me get this out there, first thing: Transformers was a load of crap. I hated this movie with every fiber of my being and due to the inordinate amount of people that don't seem to understand why; I feel the need to defend my position on it. You see, I am the kind of person that if you advertise a movie as being about non-stop action and giant robots, I have the crazy expectation that you need to actually deliver on that promise. I know what you're thinking, though. “You just hate it because they changed things from the cartoon”. No. That's a cop out. I despised it because it was a soulless piece of Hollywood trash written by a third grader on summer break. I judge Transformers independently of the original material, but that doesn't mean I do not compare the two. Why wouldn't I? If you went to see Rocky Balboa and they changed the character so that Rocky was a ballerina that dressed like a chicken and ran around bonking everyone in the head, yelling "I LOVE ICE CREAMS!!" for two and a half hours, you would probably be pretty hacked off, as well.

So what's first? Robot designs. I have read all the bullshit I can stand to read about how they tried to make the robots look like the original toys and it came out too boxy and fake looking. I find that interesting. Perhaps they can then explain to me how some guys working in their spare time managed to come up with a very cool, very natural looking transforming beetle a good 2 years before transformers was even announced? The "it looked too fake" argument is completely moot, to begin with. Giant robots that turn into cars should look fake, you idiots. We are talking about a movie based on children's toys, for god's sake. What we get instead is what looks like the after effects of Unicron getting indigestion and crapping out all the robots he's devoured over the years.

Secondly, the Transformers are characters. They aren't scenery; they aren't a plot device to tell your insipid tale of teenage angst and love for military hardware. When you call the movie Transformers, I expect it to be ABOUT Transformers. The main hero in this movie should have been Optimus Prime or at least Bumblebee. Do you have any idea how little anyone cared about Spike in the original cartoon? The main villain should have been Megatron. He should have shown up by at least the second reel and he should have been in your face the entire time. I don't care about watching government analysts try to catch a hacker. I don't care about Spike's grandfather. I care about giant robots. Having Megatron show up in the last 30 minutes and then only have 5 minutes of dialog was probably one of the biggest insults in a movie that I felt was insulting me the entire time.

Ok, so now that we've established we want cool robot designs and robots as actual characters, what is left? Battles. I want to see huge knock down brawls between huge robots and I want to give a damn about who wins. When Bonecrusher (whose name you'd have never known if not for the one line of sub-titles when he moves into action) and Prime lock up on the freeway, did you honestly give a damn how it ended? Bonecrusher was not a character so if he dies, nothing is lost. Prime is the hero, so of course he will win the day, but wouldn't it be nice to at least have a reason to want Prime to win beyond "he's the good guy, and he has to win!"? Give me villains that I despise and that I want to see beaten down. Speaking of fights, how dare you have Prime and Megs lock up and not show it? Instead, as the fight starts, we are treated to a cutaway shot of the stupid humans skulking through an alley. But hey, if you look real hard, you can see the most important fight of the film happening way off in the distance over Blackout's shoulder. Not that the horrible robot designs allow you to "see" anything when the bots fight, anyway. It looks like two piles of the aforementioned Unicron excrement rolling around for a while and then one pile stands up and declares victory.

Last but not least, what I absolutely don't want in a Transformers movie: G.I. Joe. I loved both franchises as a child to be sure, but if you're going to make a thinly veiled G.I. Joe Vs Transformers movie, then freaking call it that and give me some characters from that world to give a damn about. Instead we get G.I. Joe wannabes who actually manage to kill more Decepticons than the Autobots do. In fact, the Autobots only manage to kill one of their sworn enemies in the entire movie. Possibly two, but Barricade's actual fate is never shown because, again, when the robots start fighting, they cut away to the damn stupid humans. I don't count Devastator since Polly Prissy Pants helped Bumblebee take him down…because that makes sense.

What really grates me is that the movie is two and a half hours long and the title characters are only on screen for about an hour of it (the scenes where Spike is riding around in Bumblebee do NOT count). It's like giving He-Man a cameo in a Masters of the Universe movie or making a three-hour movie about Pearl Harbor and putting two hours of love story in it. The fact that Bay apparently spent about half the film's budget on effects that were completely unrelated to the giant robots just further illustrates how badly he missed the boat on this one. Had he spent that other sixty million on more and better footage of giant robots, cut out an hour's worth of the horrible dialogue between completely forgettable characters and actually made a movie about Transformers instead of a movie that merely featured them as scenery and action set pieces, we might have had a watchable popcorn flick here. Bay truly is the David Copperfield of film. He distracts you with gorgeous women and big explosions in the hopes that you won't notice that his films are completely and utterly devoid of any soul or substance. So much like Copperfield wiggles his left hand to make sure you don't notice what his right is doing, Bay's films blind you with music video, beer commercial flash that gives the illusion of an actual movie. I do think it’s funny that even the people I’ve talked to that enjoyed this tripe still admit that you can’t really tell what’s going on in the action sequences. How is that not a crap movie?

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