Sunday, July 01, 2007


by Reymundo Salao

What began more than 2 decades ago as a cartoon that marketed a line of toys, has become a phenomenal multimedia franchise and spawned an army of fans. Many of them have already grown up to become fathers of a younger generation that will eventually become transformers fans themselves. Now, that this live-action film adaptation of the TRANSFORMERS saga is out on the silver screen, the life of this franchise has become all the more immortal.

Having only minor changes from the original cartoon storyline (the original cartoon that was launched in 1984 being taken as the canon for all the Transformers storyline that was later adapted into comic books and video games), the TRANSFORMERS movie is about the war between two groups of robots from the planet Cybertron; The heroic Autobots and the treacherous Decepticons. This war erupted when the Decepticons wanted to seize control of the AllSpark, an enigmatic cube that has said to have been the source of life of the Planet Cybertron. This war has reached Earth and here, the Decepticons who have no regard for human life will kill and annihilate just to obtain the AllSpark's power, while the heroic Autobots must come and not only stop the Decepticons, but also protect humankind as well.

The movie immediately starts with an action sequence, reminding you to strap your senses on coz it really is a visual overdose trip. From the mood-setting jumpstart, the film introduces you to the nerdy teenage protagonist who comes into contact with an Autobot; Bumblebee. The story progresses with a well-balanced editing that goes back on forth from the kid's story to the goings-on in the military force that is curiously investigating a series of Decepticon attacks. And whenever the Transformers in full robot mode are revealed, I am once again that 8 year old kid who adored these robot heroes. I noticed that everybody else watching the movie was also in awe. Some may idolize the charming Bumblebee, others like me cheer an "All hail Optimus Prime" most especially in that one scene (perhaps the only scene with a serious intelligent moment) when Prime talks about the human race being a race that still needs to evolve from our primitive, self-destructive, violent nature. I.E: We humans need to grow up!

TRANSFORMERS is intense with its eye candy aspect that it will give your eyeballs diabetes. Making sure, it does not fall short with being a mere piece of eye candy, it is backed up with an excellent script, simple but effective storyline, and excellent acting. There is enough charm for the characters, producer Steven Spielberg has even managed to give the movie its Spielberg touch as the characters of the kid, Sam Witwicky makes a sort of "ET" friendship with the Autobot Bumblebee.

Michael Bay is considered a reliable director when it comes to visually stimulating movies. His movies are often overly yet unoriginally stylistic but definitely pleasing to the eyes. His visuals often show stark colors, and rarely (perhaps never) utilizes a filtered look. Everything always looks so crystal clear. His style is very much of commercial quality and does the job, staying true to his signature of being a purely eye candy "commercial" director. Always perfect for action and sci-fi movies, Michael Bay's style can mirror George Lucas' Star Wars prequels. That is why Michael Bay is perfect for a TRANSFORMERS adaptation.

Let's be honest, even though I adored the Transformers as a kid, you cannot deny that there isn’t much of a storyline to work with Transformers. Up from the start, Transformers is a big eye candy commercial for toys, and with the movies, it is now a big eye candy commercial for automobiles (notice that they’re featuring the similar brand of cars?). It's the Transformers; it's escapist fantastic fun.

This movie is perfect project for Michael Bay's style. In a Michael Bay movie, you come for the visual treat; you come to have your eyes fattened up. From dizzying stunts, to gorgeous casting, Michael Bay delivers the goods, insuring it to have its commercial success.

The minimal downsides to this project is that Michael Bay's overly stylistic style sometimes cushions and minimizes the impact of some of the film's great scenes. Many Transformer duels are denied of having a fully outstanding impact because either of Bay's "stylistic shaky" cinematography or "dizzying camera shots" often deprive the audience of seeing in its full grandeur many of the robot duels. Also a downside is the film's lack of clear storytelling, something that the visuals make you disregard. With the visuals actually turning off your brain, you will only realize that there are some unanswered questions and unclear consistency after you’ve seen the film a week later.

Purists may also be disappointed by the character designs that did not mirror the original look of the Transformer robots. I also have agreed with this opinion initially, but once the movie begins, you forget all the geek protestations about the robot designs, it doesn’t matter too much anymore whether Optimus Prime looked different from the original design. What matters is that the movie was able to turn you into a kid once again, applauding at the fun-filled adventure and the positively-buzzing action.

It was a good thing that I wasn’t able to submit the first draft of my film review for this movie last week. Because it really is the kind of movie that would have you zombified, grinning with two thumbs up, salivating to watch it again. I know I was, and it took me a week to see the two sides of the coin. If you haven’t seen this yet, you should probably jump in line, missing it will make you regret not seeing it in the silver screen. TRANSFORMERS is definitely MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I dunno, i'm a purist myself, but i'm pretty realistic enough to realize that crossovers from any medium to another takes away some parts from the original media and/or adds more materials that are relevant to the new medium. In short, changes are expected.

I'm just generally ranting because i think Transformers, from a production and commercial standpoint, did an absolutely wonderful job, and i too have heard these so-called "purists" on the intarwebs decrying "boo-hoo! starscream was underplayed and should have shown more of his traitourous side!" or "megatron is a gun not a cybertronian jet lolz".

my reaction: there wasn't much characterization from the original source material to begin with: its a frikking robot cartoon. there has been more character exposition in this Bay-directed movie than in all the years i have been watching the Transformers cartoons, so back off, fan boi.

Personally (and i am not alone in this) i am happy that they changed the Transformer's physiology to more alien-like design, further correctly emphasizing that (in the story) they are Alien in origin and not gigantic toy robots manufactured by hasbro.

Anyways, good show. Two thumbs up!

p.s. Starscream did show his traitorous side, and Megatron morphed a big-ass gun that shot prime in this movie. If fanboy #423 didn't notice that in the subtle scenes, then shame on you, fanboy.

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