Friday, July 6, 2007

Geek Out of Disguise

Be warned! This is a long post. And it has nothing to do with romance novels. Just me letting out my inner geek. (Actually, the geek’s right on the surface.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007. Me. My significant other. A packed theatre. And on the giant screen in front of us, Transformers.

I waited a long time for this film—and it was so worth it.

Yes, I know there’s no plot. Yes, I know it’s long and loud and overblown and, as one pithy reviewer put it, “less than meets the eye.” Yes, I know it’s the most expensive toy commercial ever made.

But it’s so much fun! Explosions, laughs, eye candy, cool-looking robots from outer space…what more can I ask for?

Before I go anything further, I need to make three things clear:

  1. I love Transformers. As a child, I thought Transformers were the coolest things evah! Over twenty years later, I still do. I spent hundreds of dollars on eBay buying the entire series and Transformers: The Movie (1986) on VHS. When Hasbro and Rhino decided they needed an influx of cash and released the series on DVD, I went out and bought all 4 volumes. When they released Transformers: The Movie (1986) on DVD in 2006 to take advantage of the live-action movie hype, I placed my pre-order for three copies on Amazon six months before the release date. I love Transformers.

  2. I love Michael Bay’s action flicks. The Rock. Bad Boys I and II. Armageddon. The Island. (Not so much Pearl Harbor.) The man knows how to shoot an action sequence. I pop The Rock into my PS2 about once a month and that car chase through San Francisco never fails to get my heart pumping a little faster. Hey, I never claimed to have highbrow tastes—and I think I enjoy life a lot more because of it.

  3. And I’m 27 going on 13. But that’s pretty obvious. Right?

The Bad
Now, let’s get the bad out of the way before I gush like an wide-eyed fangirl about my favorite movie of all time.

TOO MUCH PRODUCT PLACEMENT! I hated it in Shrek 2 and 3 and I hate it here. Enough said.

The plot, or lack thereof. Good versus evil. Good wins. Really, that’s it. Okay, the Autobots and the Decepticons are racing to get to the Energon Cube Matrix of Leadership Vector Sigma Allspark, currently lost on Earth, because it can do really cool things. As an added bonus, the US defense secretary (Jon Voight) actually decides to gather intelligence BEFORE declaring war on these powerful, unknown threats. Wow.

Oh, the cheesy music. I alternated between laughs and groans at the song choices Bumblebee, the Transformer who disguises himself as a yellow Chevrolet Camaro, made when he was in matchmaking mode for the boy he was secretly protecting, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). “Drive” by the Cars. “Baby, Come Back” by Player. “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. Subtle is not in Bay’s vocabulary. None of those songs, thankfully, are on the soundtrack. On the other hand, Linkin Park’s “What I’ve Done” is on the soundtrack and it rocks.

Megan Fox, the not-very-interesting love interest. She lives up to her name and is definitely hot enough to grace the cover of Maxim. Too bad she studied acting in the School of Tara Reid. (Okay, Tara Reid and Megan Fox fans can flame me now. I can take it.) I don’t think it helped that her character was TSTL several times throughout the movie. If this film is supposed to be a boys’ only kind of flick, do what Ocean’s Thirteen did and leave the women at home.

Not enough time with the Transformers themselves. At one point, the girl sitting next to me in the movie theatre said, “I don’t remember their names anymore.” I know this is not a character-driven movie, but the first generation cartoons and comics gave each Transformer a distinct personality (and worthy storylines). Megatron is so maniacally, unapologetically evil that sometimes you want to root for him. Bumblebee is the wise-cracking little brother who wants to prove he’s capable of playing with the big boys. Starscream is the second-in-command whose ambitions are greater than his intelligence. Ironhide is the Southern boy who’s still a little rough around the edges. Sadly, however, you don’t get any sense of that in the movie.

There are other things I took issue with, but I won’t bore this audience with the petty details (e.g. Bumblebee transforming into a Camaro instead of a Bug, removing Optimus Prime’s half-mask every time he spoke, Devastator being only one Transformer instead of the five Constructicons merged together, etc., etc.) that drove some die-hard Transformers fans to send death threats to Bay. (No, I wasn’t one of them. My buddies and I just went out for drinks and vented among ourselves because none of us look good in Day-Glo orange.)

The Good
After all that, you’d think I’d abhor the movie and would be demanding Bay’s head on a platter. But not so. And why? Because of the good. And, oh, where do I start?

The visual effects. In a year of spectacular CGI from Hollywood (e.g. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Spider-Man 3, 300, etc.), Transformers blasted them away. Over a year ago, when I heard the rumors of a live-action Transformers movie were indeed true, I was worried that Hollywood would make the animation obvious (e.g. The Hulk) and something inside me would wither and die. However, I needn’t have worried. The Transformers’ transformations were seamless with the live action and they themselves were visually stunning, if a little too exoskeletony. But still bloody good, especially Megatron, who’s so ugly it’s awesome.

Shia LaBeouf. He can act. He can do drama. And can he ever do funny. I don’t know if he was playing himself or channeling Tom Hanks and Ray Romano, but this Mickey Mouse actor thoroughly impressed me with his skill and flawless timing. The audience wouldn’t have been drawn into this movie nearly as much without him.

Oh God, the humor. Anthony Anderson, John Turturro, Shia LaBeouf, and the Transformers. The laughs were constant—and not because of Rob Schneider-like-slapstick. For instance:

Captain Lennox: I need a credit card! Epps, where's your wallet?

USAF Master Sgt. Epps: Pocket!

Captain Lennox: Which pocket?

USAF Master Sgt. Epps: MY BACK POCKET!

Captain Lennox: You got ten back pockets!


Michael Bay’s movies. Drama-challenged, but great tension-relieving humor.

And, ooh, the eye candy. For those women whose pulses don’t race when they see amazing CGIs of sentient alien robots, there are Josh Duhamel (Captain Lennox) looking all scruffy and enticing and making me want to run me fingers over his stubble and through his hair and Tyrese Gibson (USAF Master Sgt. Epps) making me imagine what it would feel like to drape myself all over that well-toned body.


Now, see the lines of dialogue above. See Josh and Tyrese shouting them at each other. See Josh groping Tyrese’s left-cheek pocket. Oh, yeah. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

The Grade

The Teaser
Wait! I’m not finished!

And neither is Bay. Transformers 2 will be out in 2009 (I’m already counting the days). If Bay decides to bring in Galvatron to replace Megatron, I hope he can talk Leonard Nimoy into providing the voice once more for old times’ sake.

And if Grimlock can be written into the script, I’ll never ask for anything ever again. Well, Grimlock and the other four Dinobots.

And maybe more Starscream.

But no Rodimus Prime, please. I can’t watch Optimus die a second time. It’s been twenty-one years and I still cry when I watch the 1986 animated movie. Yes, I know I’m sad.

The Contest
I love Transformers.

Did I mention that?

And since I love them so much, I'll send a prize package (print copy of my current release, bookmarks, and Ellora's Cave RT Cowboy card deck) to a name drawn from the people who can answer the following trivia question:

Transformers: The Movie (1986) was this Academy Award-winning American citizen's final movie. Who is he?

You can either post the answer in the comments or send it to me directly.

Start Googling, ladies. Or get those geeks you know to help you out. Trust me, we're everywhere.

Forgot to mention that I'll be announcing the winner Thursday, July 12, 2007.


catgrrl_1979 said...

Orson Welles: before he died he was the voice of Unicron (the villian) in Transformers: The Movie.

I'm hoping to win. ;)

Cherie J said...

Answewr is Orson Welles who played villainous transformer Unicron. Cool contest and prize!

Amy S. said...

Orson Welles is the answer!

KimW said...

The geek aka husband helped me out. It's Orson Welles. I'm going to have to share the prize now if I win. It's only fair. I'll have to read him some steamy pages of the book. lol

Denise A. Agnew said...

Wow this was really a cool expose on the movie. I think we are going to see it tomorrow. :) Thanks for posting on this. :)

Denise A. Agnew