Saturday, July 07, 2007


Before time began, there was the Cube, also known as the Allspark. It's origin unknown, it simply was. The Cube could be considered the ultimate power since it was capable of creating life, which it did on a world that would become known as Cybertron. The life created was a race of sentient robots that became highly productive and technologically advanced and lived harmoniously for hundreds of years. Then dissent. A group of robots, lead by the evil Magatron, conspired to take control of the Allspark and use the ultimate power for their own purposes with no regard as to who died or what havoc was unleashed in the process. These evil robots became known as the Decepticons, and in response to their plans, a heroic opposition calling themselves the Autobots formed and, lead by the noble Otimus Prime, launched into battle against the Decepticons. The war lasted for thousands of years and practically annihilated all life on Cybertron. During the conflict, the Cube was lost to the deep regions of space along with Megatron who was willing to stop at nothing in order to achieve his goal of wielder of ultimate power. Fast forward a hundred and fifty years or so, and that's where this movie picks up. There's an ultimate power somewhere on planet Earth and a group of very large and very nasty robots who have the capacity to blend in by "transforming" into cars, trucks, tanks, aircraft and other objects are here to find it and the only hope in stopping them is another group of robots, with the same abilities, who not only want to find the Allspark and defeat the Decepticons, but protect the innocent human life, as well. The cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Jon Voight and John Turturro and a nice surprise turn for Hugo Weaving.

Put simply: This movie rocks! I walked into the theater with my expectations set to a moderate level, and I walked out thoroughly impressed and ready to see it again. Granted, it's a typical summer action flick with noise, fights and explosions, but everything was brought together in a very cohesive manner that didn't overly insult my intelligence which is something that the director, Michael Bay, is very good at. Critics tend to pan Bay's movies but, oddly enough, every film he's directed has been a huge blockbuster grossing well over a hundred million dollars, each. I think his track record should speak for itself.

All of the characters are well conceived and developed with Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and the object of his desire, Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox), being the most crucial. The side plots pertaining to a group of attacked soldiers and that of a secret government organization are not, however, restricted to guesswork, and are eventually brought to an exciting culmination with the central plot of the film. Along with the plots, the other welcome aspect of the movie is it's humor. Some of the best comedic moments are provided by Ron and Judy Witwicky (Kevin Dunn and Julie White), Sam's parents as well as a couple of very funny scenes involving, surprisingly, the Autobots. For me, it was the humor displayed by the Autobots that helped me see them as characters instead of CGI effects. Which brings me to my next point:

The Transformers. From what I understand, the effects company Industrial Light and Magic, or ILM, developed new technologies for rendering the massive robots that make up the Transformers, and, I have to admit, the results are absolutely amazing. The robots blend in seamlessly with the surroundings and are improved by a factor of 25 over the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, which is saying quite a bit. The realism coupled with the humanity (good and bad) truly make the Transformers characters rather than props and, in my opinion, the standout Transformer is easily (and always has been) Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. Even in the animated television show, Optimus Prime was the character that was heroic and noble and seemed to possess all of the positive qualities that humans should aspire to. Michael Bay and the producers have, I'm glad to say, kept that aspect of the character intact while, at the same time, lightening his stoicism with a new found sense of humor; A very welcome and brilliant move that increases the "human" element of the character. Oh, and the final brilliant and, to a vast population of Transformers fans worldwide, the only choice was bringing back Peter Cullen, the only person to ever voice Optimus Prime. There had been rumors of bringing in a "big name star" to take over the character but a huge internet campaign by the fans quickly put a stop to such nonsense, and I must admit, having only watched the original show enough times to be somewhat familiar with the premise and characters, sitting in the theater today, even I got chills when I heard Optimus Prime say, "Autobots, transform and roll out!"


Chris said...

Hmmm, must be a guy thing. I on the other hand escaped on the weekend with George Clooney & Ocean's 13. Lots of eye candy in that one.

John Taylor said...

hi chris-
I intend to see Ocean's 13 - I enjoyed the first two and, judging from what I've seen, I'll enjoy the new one.
And don't be so quick to dismiss Transformers as a guy thing - this from the LA Times: Females age 25 and up have been the most enthusiastic in their exit surveys, with about 85% saying they would "definitely recommend" the movie.

The fact that the movie is appealing on several different levels was what surprised me the most and why I ended up liking it more than I was expecting to.

Chris said...

Here's some trivia for you. There was an animated series out initially called "Beast Wars" and then later shortend to "Beasties". Same idea as Transformers but the aliens morphed into mamels (the good guys) and insects (the bad guys). Back in my engineering days, I worked spotting the foley for the first season of that series. Spotting foley involves watching the episode layed down with SMPT time code and deciding what foley (real sound sound effects) needs to be recorded, record the entrance/exit time for the sound and assign it to a track. My 'plan' would then be given to the sound engineer and the foley artists as a guide to work on the recording I did that for a year before coming to my senses and getting back into the real working world and earning a proper income. Ah youth.

John Taylor said...

I remember Beast Wars! That's so funny - and I also remember reading that it was called Beasties in Canada because the word "War" was an offensive word, or some such nonsense. Anyway, to me, that sounds like a cool job, at least, for a brief period of time - I'm sure it could get tedious after a while. So, in a way, you're already a groupie - more so than most, actually.