Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Transformers Movie worthy of the Big Screen

I liked the Transformers movie. I wasn't planning to go see it as I was never a fan of the toy or the 1980's animated series, but a friend of mine wanted to go and I tagged along. The film has an impressive scale which is easy to appreciate on the big screen. Home TV screens get bigger and bigger, but certain films still require a theatrical viewing and this is one of them. Michael Bay treats the audience with an appreciable degree of respect and he avoids the current trend of throwing in fleeting pop culture jokes that amount to cheap laughs and limit the appeal of repeated viewings. There are a few moments of robot-homiletics that take the viewer into dreckland, but the bulk of the film is dominated by exciting, large-scale action motivated by clear goals.
Shia LaBoeuf does a good turn as Sam, the geek-turned-hero of the story. I think LaBoeuf has become a fairly good actor and is definitely ready for some juicier roles than can be had on the kid's network shows where he earned his acting chops. The animation was outrageously good - the weight implied in the movement made the giant robots believable and they are well integrated with the live-action world. The technical challenge of designing the machine transformations was done with incredible showmanship.
Its the action of the film that seduces you. If you're looking for heart-tugging emotions from these machines, you will find a few attempts withing the course of the film, but you will most surely be disappointed. The film's running time is indulgently long, so hook yourself up to a catheter before you enter the theater or you will be leaving to visit the restroom halfway through. Yes, the use and promotion of General Motors products is blatant, but I've grown numb to that aspect of the business - it's there to stay. At lease the GM product placement caused me to forget that the Transformers are a line of toys available from Hasbro.
The story is what I would refer to as "serviceable" - it gets the job done and provides a framework for the entertainment. You will definitely find films with better, more original story lines and deeper characters and just about everything that we've always been taught is necessary for a successful film. But you can get all of that in books as well as anywhere else. The big screen of a cinema should deliver the thrills and chills of a good circus, and for sheer spectacle and fun The Transformers Movie is one of the greatest shows on earth (for the summer, anyway).

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