transformers thoughts

I had one of those watercooler discussions (except it was in a hallway) last week about the new Transformer movie. I had not seen it yet, but my buddy in the mailroom caught the midnight premiere. This guy is TF fan #1 with the imdb-like ability to number specific episodes, chart storylines and inconsistencies and identify the obscure robots that serve as extras. Not suprisingly, he was overwhelmingly disappointed. I knew he was going to be a tough critic, so I didn't let it deter my need to watch it. It was my duty to watch it.

Like my buddy at work, I have many fond childhood memories of the original. I cosigned on his gripes but realized that the film is more enjoyable if I detached myself from the original. And my expectations weren't too high either. I knew that Michael Bay wasn't going to stick to the script. On its own, Bay's Transformers is not horrible - its an entertainingly mindless summer popcorn flick. I can see where moviegoers who are not familiar with the original may be blown away by the action and pacing, but as a moderate purist, here are my gripes:

* Rendering of the robots made it difficult to identify certain robots - especially the decepticons, who became grey and brown mushes during action sequences. We all knew that Bay wanted to make them more complex and ugly to show their alien nature. But it ignores the original story that they were initially manufactured as military and service machines...but later gained self-awareness. They shouldn't be that ugly. Plus the autobots basically served as advertising for GM's new vehicles. Bumblebee should be a runt, not a camaro musclecar. And no Soundwave! My favorite decepticon was missing. Instead they use this annoying spider critter like robot that easily gets killed.

*This movie is supposed to be about the Transformers, yet it spends more time with the humans. The robots are the stars of this franchise and I wanted to see more personality and interaction between them. This film switches the emphasis primarily as a marketing ploy to make it more accessible to the uninitiated. I like Shia Lebouf, but I didn't need so much of his awkward courtship of Megan Fox or his tiptoeing around his goofy parents. The robots have no personality and limited dialogue - especially the Decepticons. For instance, the whole thread about Starscream/Megatron powerstruggle dynamic is totally ignored except for one sentence voicing Megatron's displeasure.

*The whole story was changed. Instead of accidentally crashing on Earth and remaining dormant for millions of years, the new movie has them landing in '07. Instead of the Decepticons seeking to deplete Earth's energy sources to return to Cybertron and rule, they're chasing some mystical cube that lets them change into any form they please - including a mountain dew machine.


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