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Journal: Thoughts on "Transformers"

Journal by ErikInterlude
I don't feel like giving too much way, so I won't mention too many details. (then again, the plot is pretty obvious to most slashdotters) It's also late for me, so I don't know how well thought out this review will be. Suffice it to say that I think the film is pretty good. There's a lot of action, and there's enough in the film to set up the inevitable string of sequels.

I thought the human drama was a little excessive. I kept waiting to get back to the scenes of Autobot v. Decepticon action. I also thought it took a little long for things to start heading to the inevitable climactic battle sequences (which were excellent).

As for the Transformers themselves, the CGI was excellent, but many of the fight scenes were downright confusing. A lot of blurred motion and "hey, is the camera even pointing up?" When you actually get a clear shot of the Autobots and Decepticons, though, it's pretty awesome. Like I mentioned earlier, the CGI is excellent. Very well integrated into the surrounding live motion. That said, I didn't like how they played one Decepticon as comic relief, but that was a small nuisance and didn't detract, really. Oh, and Optimus Prime has a mouth. Not like in the 3D animated series. This mouth is closer to his chin. During fight scenes a faceplate covers everything up so that he appears closer to the Optimus Prime in the original animated series. In general, all the Transformers had odd faces, but the film hints that the Autobots tried to approximate what they could in order to communicate with humans. The Decepticons had more alien faces, probably a sign they didn't care either way. Just to add one nit-picking point, I didn't hear the transforming sound a lot. But then again, the movie is loud. Really loud. Either that or the theater sound system is on overdrive. I walked out of there with my ears almost feeling like I'd gone to a concert without ear protection.

There were some nice touches in the film, and some eye-rolling bits as well. One of the Decepticons turned into a police car. Instead of having the writing "To Protect and To Serve" on it, there was the writing "To Punish and Enslave". There were lots of little moments like that, and everyone in the audience had a good time with it. The eye-rolling parts, for me, had to do with dialog.

A lot of the old spoken cliches were in there. For example "The human race is young and they have much to learn", and a speech about how the Autobots and humans honor each other with their sacrifice and bravery. At one point Prime refers to Megatron as "brother". I saw that coming about five minutes away. There was just something about how they were talking to each other as they fought. I thought that was a little unnecessary at that point in the film. It just didn't add anything in my opinion.

As far as the actors go, I thought everyone did well. Shia LaBeouf and John Turturro were a lot of fun to watch. They obviously enjoyed their jobs on this film. Megan Fox was your generic hot-girl-in-an-action-film. She looks great, but I get the feeling anyone could have been put in that role. There were other actors I've seen before, but whose names I don't remember right now. The important thing is that everyone did their job well. I wasn't in a position where I was waiting for someone to get off the screen so that I could enjoy the film. Like I mentioned earlier, I just wish there was more robot action.

Even though the film opens on July 3rd, I saw a July 2nd showing at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood. Unless I had a wildly different experience than most people, I suggest you find somewhere else to see the film. The traffic there was awful, and you have to muscle your way through to get anywhere. There was a line for theater parking, and we were waved off after about ten minutes of waiting because the structure got full. I had to park at another lot that charged me eight bucks. Maybe if I planned to be there all day it would be worth it, but this was an 8pm showing.

The cars in the film were supposed to be on display at the ArcLight, but I didn't see where they were. In any case, I needed to go home so that I could write this up and get ready for work the next day, so I didn't look very hard. If anyone does go to the ArcLight, and if you manage to get some nice photos of the cars, please let me know. I've got some car enthusiast friends who would like to see them.

So, to sum up: The film is good. There's some good setup for sequels. Not enough robot action for my taste, but the actors are fun to watch. Megan Fox is hot, but her role is generic. Some of the writing was cheesy and predictable. The CGI is fantastic and worth the price of admission. The movie is loud and fast, and generally in a good way. As I was leaving I overheard one audience member say that Michael Bay has mastered the art of getting your brain to turn off. Depending on how you feel that can be a good or bad thing.

Systems programmers are the high priests of a low cult. -- R.S. Barton

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