Transformers

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Movie Poster 

Against my better judgement, I watched Transformers the other day. I have a problem with the current childish obsession with children’s shit from the late 70s and early 80s because most of it was crap, and its revival amongst today’s insecure 25-35 year old bracket smacks of an inability to accept the fact they ceased being a child long ago.

There is nothing quite as cringeworthy as seeing a 30 year old man trundling off to work on his BMX, or watching a woman who last saw the inside of a school in the late 1980s buying Bagpuss DVDs or walking around wearing handbags with images of Willo the Wisp and She-Ra on them. Transformers, the latest big-budget CGI-fest from Hollywood, taps into this childish nostalgia boom. A distracting piece of childhood tat from the 80s has had a lavish amount of money spent on it – was it worth it?

Well, and it pains me to say it, yes, yes I think it was. Perhaps my appetite for motor vehicles that transform into giant robots was whetted by the recent Citroen advertising campaign, or perhaps, despite my conviction that a man should put away childish things when he reaches maturity, there was just something so cool about the idea of Transformers when I was a kid and what was a cool idea then still seems a pretty cool idea now. I know I’m meant to champion proper, grown-up stuff, but watching a truck turn into Optimus Prime still feels pretty great, despite myself.

Those that mourned the deaths of those two titans of boring art-house tripe Antonioni and Bergman will not, I suspect, enjoy Transformers. From the very beginning, when an American military base is destroyed by a robot, you know you’re not watching a revival of New Wave. Transformers has a very basic plot (boy buys car, car turns out to be giant robot sent to protect him because he holds the key to stopping Earth’s destruction, boy and car get chased by evil robots, Optimus and his buddies turn up, cue Monster Mash), but executes that plot with an aplomb and attention to comedy I hadn’t expected. Because it is a comedy.

Those who expected Transformers to follow the seriousness of the cartoon show will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the movie plays it for laughs. There’s a great bit where the boy hero has to find a pair of spectacles in his parent’s house which are essential to the Autobots’ plans to foil the Decepticons and, as he and the female lead frantically search his bedroom, five giant robots make an arse of trying to hide in the garden, destroying most of it in the process. Another scene sees one of the Autobots pissing all over John Tuturro – not if I’d written a million different things I would expect to see in a robot movie would one have them been ‘robot pisses all over someone’.

Of course, a summer noise-fest now stands or falls on the quality of its special effects, and in this respect Transformers does not disappoint. The Transformers all look amazing. Optimus Prime transforming from a truck to a robot is a CGI wonder to rival anything yet seen on screen (it would have been even more staggering a site had it not been for those Citroen adverts, alas, alas).

The freeway-set brawl between Prime and Bonecrusher outstrips any freeway-set smash-up seen before – and that includes the one in director Michael Bay’s own Danny Butterman favourite Bad Boys II. The final showdown between the Autobots and the Decepticons in New York is like nothing ever seen before because of the complete and utter disregard the robots have for their environment – their immense size and the fact they’re fighting the shit out of one another leads to an all-out destruction wet-dream.

I wouldn’t recommend Transformers to anyone who expects such trivialities as plot or character in their movies, because you certainly won’t find much of it here (that said, the lead roles are all pretty well-rounded and the robots, especially the good ones, have distinct if not well explored characters of their own). For those looking for a couple of hours of mayhem and fun however, I can’t think of a better popcorn movie that’s come along all summer.

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22 Responses to “Transformers”

  1. trevor neggar-neggum Says:

    Good review. Sounds absolutely fucking appalling.

  2. Swineshead Says:

    It sounds alright. So does Spiderman the Third though.

    I’d rather watch Louis Fulci films mind, or failing that I’d read a mucky book.

  3. Clarys Says:

    It’s really quite surprising in it’s entertaining-ness, is Transformers. I’m no big Michael Bay fan by any stretch of the imagination, but it really is enjoyable and fun – mindless blockbuster fun, if you will.

    The bird in it is quite tasty an’ all.

  4. Charlie Says:

    I saw it two nights ago and am still reeling. This film is exhausting to watch – I was physically shaking after leaving the cinema. I’ll be the first to say that I’m not a big fan of action movies, but this is something different. This delivers on so many base levels and the result is a big-screen smorgasbord of childish delights. It ticks all the boxes – cars? check. robots? check. hot chicks? check. cars that change into robots? check. funny mum? check. funny robots? check. (you can see where I’m going with this).

  5. Swineshead Says:

    I occasionally wear a Transformers T Shirt round the house, I should point out. I also own a Superman T Shirt and a Punisher T Shirt.

    Cringe away, my sweet, sweet boy.

  6. trevor neggar-neggum Says:

    “It ticks all the boxes – cars? check. robots? check. hot chicks? check. cars that change into robots? check. funny mum? check. funny robots? check.”

    Do you take this checklist into all films? I’d be intrigued to see how other features perform against your criteria.

  7. Swineshead Says:

    If a film doesn’t have a funny mum in it, what’s the point?
    A funny mum was the only thing that made Lost Boys bearable.

  8. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I’m going to revise my future blockbuster checklist:

    Cars? Check
    Robots? Check
    Hot Chicks? Check
    Cars That Change Into Robots? Check
    Funny Mums? Check
    Funny Robots? Check
    PISSING Robots? Well … we’ll see shall we?

  9. Badger Madge Says:

    Loved the embarrassing parents – although it was a bit American Pie in parts. But did anyone else think that some of the scenes (mainly with the guy and his parents) were un scripted? Felt a bit improv’d.

    Glad you liked it. Here’s my review if you want to waste a bit of time reading more or less the same thing, written slightly worse…

    http://bmtv.blogspot.com/2007/08/robots-in-disguise.html

    Oh and I reckon watching the Citroen ad again, you can see how animation has improved in such a short space of time – the way the Transformers move is much more ‘human’ and ‘realistic’ than that Citroen car…

  10. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I suppose the Citreon boffins didn’t have the budget Badger. Plus, I’m tainted towards those ads now. There’s been three so far and have any of the robots had a piss? I don’t think so.

  11. Badger Madge Says:

    They were saving it all up for blokie, clearly.

  12. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    I’m hoping the sequel sees Bumblebee taking a big fat robot crap on a house.

  13. trevor neggar-neggum Says:

    Lost Boys had a funny granddad, not a funny mum. I vote it a miss.

  14. Swineshead Says:

    You’re forgetting the amusingly skittish Dianne Wiest who played the funny mum.

    CHECK

  15. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    No robot cars though … I suppose the cast had the acting ability of a car though, so it was sort of similar.

  16. trevor neggar-neggum Says:

    Name one funny thing she said. Name one. One.

    Name one.

  17. Swineshead Says:

    Oh come off it, Trev – I haven’t seen it in years.
    And I bet the only amusing line you can up for Grandpa is the big gag at the end. ‘Too many damn vampires’ or whatever it is.

  18. Napoleon Cockaparte Says:

    Keifer Sutherland: I’m so moody with my bleached hair and leathers. I’m going to eat you.
    Dianne Weist: A pint? That’s nearly an armful!

    Jason Patric: I too am moody. Look at my moody Michael Hutchence hair.
    Dianne Weist: Yes you did, you invaded Poland!

    BA-DUM-TISSSSH!

  19. trevor neggar-neggum Says:

    ‘Too many damn vampires’

    Heh heh heh. He knew all along, the devious old stoat. Classic.

  20. Badger Madge Says:

    Yeah Diane West was hilarious in it. A really neurotic, overly caring, screatchy mum. Great. Not exactly funny gags, but just a rather comic character…

  21. Swineshead Says:

    Thankyou, Madge – spot on.

    Hurray!

  22. transformers PC wallpaper Says:

    The film was absolutely brilliant. Yeah the plot was a bit A+B=C but honestly who cares. It resonated with the target audience and was two hours well spent

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