Sunday, July 29, 2007

Autobots, Transform...and be very very loud about it!!

Like most kids my age, I grew up on Transformers. The cartoons provided an endless dose of action and fun with the Autobots transforming and battling the evil Decepticons. Optimus Prime vs Megatron!! I had enjoyed the original Transformers movie as well when the Autobots went through a rough path losing two leaders in quick succession (first Optimus and then his replacement). But when I heard that Michael Bay was directing a Hollywood version, I was not the least bit excited. Why? Because Michael Bay does not just direct movies, he directs LOUD action movies which don't care for story or acting as much as they do for big explosions.

Transformers (2007, Director Michael Bay): Rating 7.5/10

As expected the film does have plenty of LOUD nonsense, horrible acting in parts (I just can't buy that Rachael Taylor's character can decode encrypted signals with her eyes closed) and contrived scenes (little girl asks bit mighty transformer if he is the tooth fairy while Spielberg pats Bay on the back for yet another introduction of a sentimental E.T like shot). Argh! But surprizingly when our ears drums are not being damaged, there is an actual story here. Also, the clever use of digital cameras for close-ups really adds to the film's past faced action sequences. The movie's first hour only gives us a tiny glimpse to some of the transformers that exist. Instead, that time is mostly spent on a teen romance story -- geek guy with geeky friend, jock stud, hot girl, fancy car. Once an hour has passed, Optimus Prime finally appears on the screen (I have to admit that I felt a tinge of nostalgia to see this red truck autobot). It was a great touch to include the original voice behind the powerful Autobot leader in the film.

In the end, as much as I didn't mind the film, I can't just ignore all the negatives:

1) The film has to inform viewers multiple times that Qatar is in the middle East. That was a great help as it will ensure that viewers won't confuse that with the other Qatar that exists in South America or the fake Qatar constructed in the American desert.
2) Apparently everyone around the world knows where the Nellis Air Base is, so there is no need to qualify its exact location.
3) A summer action movie won't be complete without the required hotties. In this case, we get two of them, one apparently brilliant signal analyzer and the other a whiz at cars. Un-huh! But thankfully, the film-makers allowed the signal analyzer to keep her clothes on.
4) Rachael Taylor plays an Aussie. Unless her character is an American citizen, there is no way she could have could clearance to enter the American Security bases. And if she got clearance, then she should have been with an American escort at all times. Ofcourse, I may not know about the rule that American army allows hot blonds of any nationality through without any security clearances.
5) A Micheal Bay film won't be complete without a love story. But amazingly, there is no kiss this time. As Mikaela and Sam (Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf) approach each other, something holds them back from kissing. Maybe the same force that allowed Rachael Taylor to keep her clothes on?
6) The ending is a real anti-climax -- when Megatron finally emerges, his battle with Optimus prime does not last too long and the film ends too fast after a slow build-up.

Maybe age plays with memory a bit. Because as it stands, I much prefer the original animated transformer film as opposed to this very LOUD movie. In animation, you can actually focus on and admire the transformers themselves. Whereas, in the movie the fast cuts and close-ups really give a jarring effect while watching the transformers fight -- one can't focus on the robots themselves and is only able to get a quick glimpse of these amazing machines. As a result, the transformers look like a colorful heap of junk as opposed to the carefully defined creations that they really are. I can only dream if instead of this muddled mix, the film-makers had opted for a Ratatouille style animated flick. Sigh!

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