And behind the cut is my review of TransFormers: The Movie. I’m a bit new to reviewing, and not entirely satisfied with how this came out. If you see somewhere that this could be improved, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. But for God’s sake, please be constructive.
Oh, and I deliberately left out gushing over the effects.? If you have any interest in this movie as it is, then you know they’re good.
Some minor spoilers within, so be warned.
Their War. Our World.
Such is the tagline of the film, and such is the overall theme. The movie, in a way, isn’t so much about the TransFormers, in such ways that perhaps Godzilla and King Kong or perhaps some horror and monster movies aren’t about their eponymous elements.
To put it another way, the Autobots and Decepticons aren’t the central characters here; they’re the story. The main characters are the humans, and how they react to having giant robots from space that can transform from one form to another and whoop our asses among them. By all rights, for the game adaptations to be accurate, you’d be playing as a teenage boy and military men.
To some, that would be a major turn-off. Then again, so too would be the looks of the characters. If either is your case, to a point that you just can’t look past it, save your money. Wait for DVD.
All of that said, what the movie does, it does pretty well. But not perfect. Still, quite well, and quite enjoyable.
For a long time, a lot of fiction based around TransFormers has attempted to give us people like us to relate to, to make these super-robotic lifeforms seem all the more spectacular. And in my humble opinion, they have all pretty much failed. From Spike looking like a complete wuss as he gets backhanded by Rumble to the annoying tagalongs bossing Optimus Prime around in Armada and such, the dynamic has just never quite felt like what it seemed they wanted to accomplish.
But with this movie, much like the TransFormers themselves, that all changes.
Perhaps what it needed was the live-action setting, but seeing these real vehicles turning into giant automations and raising as many layers of Hell as they can lift gives a different sense of perspective. Seeing them interact with real landscapes, vehicles, people, it’s all something that the past twenty years of cartoons and comics just have not been able to properly convey or provide.
Part of it comes from the camera angles. So often, things are usually put in a perspective so that it feels like the viewer is above them, or on the same level. It makes one feel almost as an equal. But in the movie, it seems more of it is captured from the human level, and that makes these titans all the more impressive.
Sadly, however, camera angles also often tend to be a down point in the movie. So often, things just get confusing, or it feels like things are viewed from too close to get a good feel of the whole picture. You still pretty much get what’s going on for the most part, but are still pining for a better view of the action. One of my favorite shots involves one slamming the other on the ground from a nice, distant view.
So to sum it up, the camera works great when there’s a human focus, but when it comes to the robots themselves, not so much.
Another problem with the movie goes back to the way the TransFormers themselves are utilized, and how the movie is focused. As a result, most of the Decepticons, save for Bay’s pet favorite Frenzy, get very little in the way of characterization. Brawl (called Devastator for some reason, the tank), Bonecrusher, they get squat. Blackout, the helicopter, doesn’t fare much better, but at least his exposure beforehand is a little more than B&B get. Barricade (the police car) only gets marginally more, something of a “bad, angry cop” sort of thing. Starscream’s is sadly all but nonexistant; he seems to be more characterized by Megatron’s dialogue than anything he does himself.
The Autobots do a bit better, mostly in Optimus Prime himself, naturally. Ironhide is basically King Frag, Ratchet is perceptive, Jazz is cool, Bumblebee has, for lack of a better term, spunk, and Optimus? Well, he’s just Prime.
And my last major gripe is that Optimus and Megatron never really have that defining duel, the battle that has everyone on the edge of their seats. They start for it once or thrice, but it never quite really happens, I’m sorry to say.
There are other things I could pick at, such as the nature of the Allspark, or having Megatron transform into a supersonic seaplane. But really, in the end, I look at the movie very favorably in spite of the faults it has, and would love to see it again a second, third, however many times.
Which is ultimately where my “rating” for the movie comes from. It cuts its own piece of TransFormers lore (if this were supposed to be a Generation 1 movie, it would fail), and as its own entity, it’s quite good. However, it’s not perfect, either.
If I were to go on a 1-10 scale, I’d give this an 8, maybe even a 9. Since I’m not one who cares for scales and such, I’ll just say that it’s not bad by any means (except those of stuffy film critics), and definitely worth seeing, unless you’re one of those “it’s not a perfect match for my childhood memories, which this is raping” types. I strongly recommend seeing it.