I know summer movies are also called event movies, but I’ve also considered this to be hype. Movies are movies, the ones released in the US summer season just have bigger budgets and larger marketing campaigns. It was only when the first Transformers movie was released in 2007 that I acknowledged the term ‘event movie’ – for me it was nothing less than my childhood coming to life. Looking back on my attachment to giant robots in disguise, my only regret is that I wish I took better care of my Rodimus Prime and Trypticon action figures. When Michael Bay was reported to direct the start of the TF franchise a few years back, you would have seen friendlier reactions if you killed a dolphin. He was quoted as saying, “I knew there were fans, I didn’t know there were people who would hunt you down.” I also acknowledge to understand, although not share, where all this hatred was coming from. Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and the other robots aren’t just glorified toy advertisements to me; they are part of the first real mythos I bought into. The first Star Wars film came out the year I was born so I was a little too late for that party. Star Trek came later in the form of "The Next Generation" TV series. Yeah, Dinzo is a geekazoid. Suffice to say I loved the first Transformers live action movie. I watched it the first day it came out, and two more times after that. In retrospect, a director whose talents lie in car chases, blowing things up, and showcasing the US military’s latest gadgets was perfect for a movie about giant alien robots that transform into cars and machines. By introducing us to Autobots Ironhide, Jazz and Bumblebee Michael Bay made US vehicles utterly cool again. And the transformations were utterly awesome. Gears whirled, parts shifted, and metal clanked as powerful computers rendered the Autobots’ and Decepticons’ change from car/plane/tank to robot. It was almost like seeing porn for the first time.
(Image sequence courtesy of Paramount Pictures)Not many people will admit, but the reason for the first film’s success was it was directed by Michael Bay. Now having seen the sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF), I saw that it has a problem—it was directed by Michael Bay. For the sequel Bay wanted more of the same but on a grander scale. So this time there are more robots, more explosions, more CGI battles, and more pursuits. It should have worked out, it should have been another movie geeks like me can place in the pantheon of adaptations that thrived when brought to the big screen: Iron Man, the LOTR trilogy (we geeks also like to acronymize long titles), Spider-Man, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and Watchmen. Instead the movie succumbed to its ambitions of grandeur and forgot the plot. Now the first movie had a plot that a ten-year old could follow easily, so it’s not like a high bar was set, but for the most part it was consistent. The sequel’s plot had almost as many holes as the move for charter change. ROTF still brought in spectacular box office so there’s a good chance you’ve seen it, so you know what inconsistencies I’m referring to. (Okay I’ll do one rant: why does Devastator have to be a giant gorilla with a huge maw? In the animated series he was a group of robots who merged to form a towering robot that was still humanoid.)
(Image from tfwiki.net)
(Images from courtesy of Paramount Pictures)Maybe the best way to see the movie is to take a more philosophical view; in movies like this, it’s best to remember moments that take your breath away.