Movie Review: Transformers

Eric has a vastly differing opinion over here. So if you're not happy with my thoughts, please do go on over there and give his a try. And for a review that's probably more review-y than the one that follows here but that is positive, go here.

Yesterday we trekked out to the theater to see Transformers. Movies on the 4th of July are a bit of a family tradition for us, one that started the year after we dragged ourselves downtown to the mall (the D.C. Mall) to sit in the blistering heat for twelve hours with a million (I think literally) of our closest friends so that when it finally got dark we could look up and try to see fireworks that were, at best, mediocre. Of course, we were so far away from any of the stuff actually on the mall that we couldn't hear any of the music that went along and all in all we decided that the heat stroke wasn't really worth the experience. Nor was trying to shoehorn yourself onto the Metro to get home afterward. All in all, theaters are air conditioned and on the 4th of July blissfully empty for the matinee. Mom put a little moratorium on movies after we dragged her to see Battlefield Earth - and that was a real stinker, I admit - so convincing her to see Transformers took some doing.

Here is where I should also probably add that I loved the Transformers cartoon. I can still sing all the words to the theme song and my sister and I used to write episodes that we wished they would do. So I definitely fall into the category of folk for whom Eric says the movie is a little slice of heaven. Excepting, of course, the fact that I'm female and I believe he relegated the target demographic to 20 year old males. (Those would be the poor souls who grew up with BeastWars though, so I'm not sure they'd really get this movie because these transformers are the real ones, not the desperate-to-keep-something-on-TV BeastWars ilk.)

Anyway, the movie is fantastic. There are great special effects - every single one a necessary part of the story - lots of fantastic booms. And then you have the transformers. Now, I'll admit to being annoyed that Bay chose to make Bumblebee a Camaro rather than the Beetle he's supposed to be. I thought it was amusing that they had him next to a yellow bug in the car dealer - it was a nice touch. However, by the end of the movie you've stopped being annoyed about it. Mostly. I did think it was nice that Megatron actually transforms into something useful - I never did understand why he transformed into a weapon for Starscream when Starscream already had weapons of his own. So this was a good choice. And then there's the whole "Why do they transform into airplanes when they can fly in their robot shapes because of the jet packs on their legs" issue. Settled in the movie by making them unable to fly as robots. I guess that's fair enough.

The plot is a pretty standard transformers episode plot. So in that regard it wasn't disappointing, though I could see how people who never saw the show might be scratching their heads. The acting was ok, provided you remembered that 1) The people were really just there for contrast to the transformers and 2) it's a movie based on a cartoon. Similar to movies based on comic books, you shouldn't look for shattering realism in this movie. Of course, if you're looking for shattering realism in a movie about robots that hide in plain sight by being cars, then perhaps there are bigger issues at play.

All in all, it's a fun, action packed romp complete with everything you need for an enjoyable afternoon or evening at the theater.

I give it 4 Robots in Disguise out of 5

(After the movie, mom gave it a B-, my sister gave it a B+, Tim gave it an A, and I gave it an A - not sure what daddy or my brother-in-law gave it.)


Eric said...

Beth, after reading your review I'm more convinced than ever that much of the enjoyment of this movie comes in being able to place it within a familiar context of the original cartoon series -- watching for "insider" trivia (like the yellow bug reference you note) and "winks-and-nods" to the cognoscenti from the writers and director). I had none of that, and in that relative vacuum, the movie just didn't resonate. (And that's a pretty high falutin' term for a live-action cartoon, I realize.)

beth said...

Eric, I can see that. In a movie based solely on a cartoon, you probably do need to have a good working knowledge of that show in order to be able to really enjoy it. Either that or there needs to be enough separation from the original show so that it can stand on its own and you don't realize that there ever was anything else.

Michelle said...

I never really watched Transformers as a kid, so I doubt if the movie would work for me. Still, I love those kinds of films where you get the "insider" jokes. :) Glad you had fun!

Michael said...

Just to add... I give the movie an A.