Movie Review: Transformers

7/09/07 at 10:16 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I took my 9 year-old to see Transformers on Wednesday. I’m glad I didn’t take my 4 y.o., though, as they included some gratuitous references to sex and made the female lead basically eye-candy (besides one scene where she rescues one of the good robots). Knowing what I do now I’m not so sure if I would have taken my 9 y.o., and it’s unfortunate since the sex junk wasn’t needed for the movie. I suppose they were trying to make it more of a “grown-up” movie than the Transformer TV-show, but there was plenty of hard-hitting action to distance the former from the latter.

The other disturbing aspect of the movie was the theology and lack of any Christian presence, besides a mention of the importance of sacrifice. The robots came from another planet, started by some “cube” that existed before time started and has some mystical energy source. The cube was coveted by evil/selfish robots (decepticons) who fought the good/noble robots (autobots) for control of the cube. They destroyed their planet fighting over it and were flung out into the galaxy, and wouldn’t you know it, some of them made it to good ol’ Earth.

[Semi-spoilers to follow] From there the story unwinds to a predictable popcorn-cruncher: nerdy kid has a tie-in to the cube, somehow gets hot girl he’s always lusted after to help him, government is helpless against bad robots, good robots overcome bad robots after heroic effort by nerdy kid (and let’s not forget the setup to the sequel too).

As I said, there was plenty of action, particularly at the beginning when a US military base is destroyed by a sneak attack. The CGI was very-well done, and it was evident that a good deal of effort was put into the details of the robots converting from a car (or other vehicle) and back. It was not the whir-blur you would get from the TV show. They also brought in quite a few extras and interesting sets for the military ops rooms and the secret lair under the dam.

I also liked how the military was portrayed. Even though they were decimated on the first encounter, they learned how to adapt and were able to defeat one of the decepticons. Typically an alien is given such extraordinary powers that the military is “helpless” until the nerdy kid saves the day. Shia LeBeouf did well in this movie, and once Indiana Jones 4 hits the theaters next year he will probably be in the upper echelon of young male leads in Hollywood (unless he somehow pulls a “Jar-Jar”). I liked him better in Holes, though.

What I did not like: times when the action was so frenetic you could not tell the good from the bad robots, large chunks of buildings falling and robots crashing through buildings without a sign of anyone getting seriously injured, the autobots being “cutesy”, suspending belief on what the robots power source was. As a (formerly) well-trained scientist the last item bothered me, in that what the robots did takes a tremendous amount of energy, yet they could shrink down into the size of a car. Oh well, it is a comic.
[Big spoiler]In particular they made a big deal about the cube, yet one of the robots essentially burned it up when it got close to its chest. What was up with that?!?[/Big spoiler]

RATING: 2 1/2 taters. Probably the biggest action film of the summer, and it’s not a sequel. Good for some mindless-escapist fare, yet be cautious on taking younger viewers. It is PG-13.

IF YOU’RE STILL READING, I’d like to advance an idea of this movie being an allegory for the terrorist situation we are currently in. You have the “cube” giving rise to both autobot and decepticon (Judeo/Christian vs. Muslim), both sides wanting possession of the cube (pre-eminent society/culture) and both sides being similar (human beings). The beginning shows the lethality of one well-concealed “assassin” destroying a whole military base, followed with a somewhat bumbling bad robot getting access to the top government computers.

The bad robots blend right in to the “community” and cannot be easily discerned, until it is too late. The good robots bend over backwards to avoid the taking of innocent lives, while the bad robots show disdain. The good robots end up having to destroy the bad robots, yet there is the feeling of “it ain’t over yet”. While the decepticons may not have strapped explosives to their bodies, they did want to eliminate the autobots and humans by converting the machines around the world into decepticons with the use of the cube.

Well, it’s something to chew over.


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