Is there more than meets the eye in the Transformers movie?
If you’re reading this review, chances are you are not a huge Transformers fan. This being a week after the movie was released and you’re waiting for my golden words to tell you if you should see it or not. That’s fine with me, you are my target audience, non-fan, because I am one as well. I never had anything against the cartoon, it just missed me somehow when it was taking over America. Luckily I don’t think a Rainbow Brite movie is on the horizon for me to pretend not to be excited about.
So this week’s Movie Of The Summer is here. And to just lay it out there for you, dear reader, it’s not a bad way to spend a summer afternoon. The movie is fun, well shot, has good music, and it has a really good sense of humor about itself. This is good because had it taken itself seriously at all I think I would have hated it, given its origins.
In addition to being an adaptation from an 80’s pop culture icon, the script reeks of stolen property from attempted franchise films past, most notably Independence Day, and Small Soldiers. On the Independence Day front, the alien menace attacks a military base, destroying it and leaving the majority of the personnel dead. The pentagon studies the signal from the threat but it takes a civilian computer hacker to crack the code, though in this one our hackers are hired by the government as opposed to a guy who works for the cable company. And oddly enough there’s a secret branch of the government that has known about the presence of the aliens and has been keeping a crash-landed specimen in a hidden bunker since the 40’s, a bunker so hidden even top levels of the administration don’t know about it.
Then we have Shia LeBeouf, as an awkward teenager who discovers his new toy, in this case a Camarro instead of an action figure, is alive, and is in a state of war against another group of toys. He also enlists the aid of a girl from school he has a crush on in his attempt to help his friends the Gorgonittes… I’m sorry, the Autobots, in their efforts to defeat their enemy. The movie even went so far as to cast Kevin Dunn in the role of the boys father.
LeBeouf however more than holds his own as the closest thing the movie has to a protagonist. I have a feeling this kid is becoming a punchline simply because of the amount of movies he has been in recently, but he’s got some chops. More props however go to John Turturro who is just awesome as a takes-him-self-too-seriously government agent.
The only thing I didn’t like about it speaks less about this movie and more towards a general resentment I’m starting to feel towards Hollywood blockbusters, which is that I find CGI-on-CGI fights to be boring. It’s why I didn’t like the fight sequences that much in King Kong, but why I loved the ones in Lord of the Rings, which also used miniatures and loads of extras. The big pitch of this movie was “let’s take that cartoon and make it live action,” but at the end of the day, when all the impossible stuff is being made on a computer, isn’t it just a cartoon with a real-world background?