Monday, July 09, 2007
The View from the Tank: Transformers (2007)
None of us should be too surprised that this movie sucked. Let's face it: even the cartoon had a hard time holding together a good story. Mostly, we were psyched to see the new Transformers revealed so that we could hector our parents to race us to Kay-Bee or Toys R' Us to snap them up off the shelves. So Megatron transformed into a gun -- big deal? He was freaking cool, even though it made no sense that a gun would command a bunch of transforming jet fighters. Whatever. And the Autobots were good it seemed, in large part because they were earthbound and could not fly. This made them more, er, human, maybe.
I don't know. We need to admit that Transformers the cartoon was always pretty stupid. Perhaps stupid in a great, super, Japan will take over America with planes that transform -- halfway -- into robots 80's way, but still stupid. So it cannot have surprised anyone that when a poorly-drawn American cartoon created to sell Japanese toys manufactured by Hasbro was turned into a gigantic Hollywood summer blockbuster directed by the guy that did "Armageddon", we would have stupidity on a colossal, monumental scale. How monumental? Think thousands of frames of cutting-edge CGI to produce a few seconds of a Mountain Dew soda machine "transforming" into a vicious robot -- that level of stupidity.
Mostly Transformers is hilarious. The movie seems like it was written in Urdu, translated into Chinese, and then dubbed in English. The dialogue is fantastically, amazingly, Olympically bad. The actors are a few steps below the stars of "Saved by the Bell". The parts of the movie that look like car commercials and military recruitment ads are serviceable, because that is in fact what they are. Sure, the transforming stuff is probably cool, if you could tell what the hell was happening. The CGI-geniuses who put together the robots forgot to keep in mind the limitations of the human eye's ability to watch and process moving parts: ten thousand pieces moving in a millisecond may look super cool frame by painstaking frame in the Dreamworks office, but on the big screen in real time, it mostly looks like a lot of moving crap out of focus. But don't worry about all that. You'll come out of the movie ready to buy a Pontiac and join the Air Force. I feel like a real spoilsport saying this, but some things should be left as they were.
Bring on the Care Bears and Alf.