Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving
Directed by: Michael Bay
The Official Site of Transformers
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You guys have seen this already right? I mean… it’s Transformers. Cars, trucks and machines of all sizes kick-flipping themselves into magical space robots with big booming voices and far too much ammunition for your average Camaro. At least for one when I was a kid. Maybe times have changed. I’m going to bet that you have seen it and that the reason had less to do with the promise of amazing visuals and explosive action, and more to do with the nostalgia that a movie like this delivers. It’s a free pass for a lot of us to revisit our childhood and cherish those early mornings huddled around the TV trying to get our Starscream fix before the bus showed up. And while these modern versions of our familiar friends with their fancy facelifts and fiery, pimped-out paint jobs aren’t quite as familiar as you’d like, this latest evolution of everyone’s favorite vehicular robots (Yeah, even the guys that wrote GoBots liked Transformers better.) is a crowd pleasing, ass kicking, robot pissing (SEE THE MOVIE!) bundle of excitement!
Nostalgia is a great reason to go to any movie if you asked me, because it offers an instant connection with the characters. You can’t buy that kind of set-up.
You can only engrain it into our youth over years and years of syndication. But those of you hoping for something identical to the Transformers cartoon will walk away disappointed. The movies focus is the humans and their reaction to the alien visitation of the Autobots (the good guys) and Decepticons (the bad guys), who have come to earth to find an energon cube capable of reviving life on their home planet. Because the focus is on the human reaction, we’re given very little time to bond with the Transformers. Less than half an hour total with Megatron who pops in briefly to wreck house and talk smack (courtesy of Hugo Weaving). His point is made but I could have used another 10 minutes. Some potentialy heartfelt moments miss their mark because we never have a chance to really meet these characters. And while I was dazzled by what these giant robots were doing, even nostalgia couldn’t make me care about whether they lived or died.
Prime takes out one of the Decepticons in a fairly viscose way, and when he did the audience erupted with cheers. Not because of the fact that a very real threat had been exterminated, but because it looked so damn cool! How much more impact would that moment have held if we had a better understanding of who that character was and what he was capable of? Sure we saw him transform and cause a little havoc before he met his end, but to what end does that make us fear him that much more?
Similarly for the Autobots, as one of them is killed a snappy one-liner covers it up all at once taking the severity and significance out of a moment that should have left the audience rocked instead of amused. It was a great looking scene, but to what end does a witty comeback endear either character to us?
I hate to say it, but the weak character structure is not exclusive to the robots. With a few passable exceptions, the majority of the human characters serve their plot point and vanish. I mean… what the hell even happens to Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight and John Turturro. I’m sure they’re fine but can’t we get a shot of them before the end credits. They don’t need to be spooning on top of Ratchet or anything but some closure would be great.
Character is glossed over almost universally perhaps hoping that our childhood nostalgia will fill in the blanks. Screw the little kids that have never seen a Transformers cartoon in their life, this movie is rated PG-13. They shouldn’t even be there anyway. Why should they have the benefit of character arcs? Apparently, a robot break dancing and saying “Bitch” is something that passes for character development these days. Poor Jazz. You were too good for your dialogue in this movie.
The one exception is Bumble Bee who, as the Autobots scout, spends nearly triple the amount of time on screen as any other alien robot. His time spent bonding with Sam (Shia LaBeouf. The kid’s the real deal. He’s like a young Michael J. Fox.) gives us plenty of time for his personality and humor to develop and connect with the audience. Because of that, the two times that he is in real danger - you really feel it. You really worry about that little yellow bastard. He’s the only robot you’ll be concerned about, but honestly they couldn’t have picked a better one. Bumble Bee (VW Bug or not) will always represent the true spirit of the Autobots as well as their strongest connection with the human race (including the audience). If only they could have built up Prime in the same light this movie might have had a fighting chance.
Now, this is a Michael Bay movie so it’s not really…
Ok, I have to interrupt… How hot is Megan Fox? Seriously. Who checks under the hood of a car like that?
anyway… so it’s not really supposed to be about characters. It’s more about the explosions and the spectacle of the transforming monsters. In that respect the film is beautiful. There’s a lot of action that will be difficult to see (not something uncommon with Bay films) but there are enough quite moments, slow motion flipping, and steady shots of the Transformers to still be amazed. If anything, those fast paced blurry moments only make me want to see the movie again with fresh eyes.
You’ll get some of his trademark moves like back-and-forth panning, camera swoops, slow motion close ups, and large scale car chases (UH-DUH), but to me it was a lot less obvious than normal. I guess because I was distracted by effects like nothing I had ever seen before. But if you look for his fingerprints – they’re there. They just don’t stand out like a sore thumb.
Most of this review complained about the character development. Something that didn’t bother me much at all as I was watching the film, but haunted me later the more and more I thought about it. It’s a huge deal. It’s the difference between an 8 and a 10 on my ratings system. And it will destroy the film for a lot of people. This isn’t a petty cosmetic dispute over Bumble Bee being a Camaro instead of a VW Bug, or Bay’s style of directing conflicting with what you normally find appealing, this is basic story development chopped out in favor of the big boom.
It bothers me, but it doesn’t ruin the movie for me. It’s still a great non-stop adventure that had me smiling, cheering and laughing (admittedly at some places I probably shouldn’t have been. What’s with the scene where all the Autobots are watching the humans make out?>) all the way through.
There’s plenty to complain about in Transformers, and if you whine and moan all day long I bet you could even convince yourself that it’s not a fantastically entertaining adventure. But these days it seems people go to the movies to find problems with them instead of to have a good time. So that works out just fine.
Rating: 8 out of 10 - Sitcoms and comic books have all had their moment in the spotlight when it comes to the big screen treatment, but with Transformers, The Simpson’s Movie later in this month, as well as buzzing rumors of a realistic take on 80’s favorites He-Man and G.I. JOE, we could be entering the era of cartoons. I’m calling it now. The biggest movie of 2012 is going to be Smurfs 2: Brainy’s revenge!
But I can’t think of a more fitting cartoon to kick off the cartoon craze than Transformers. It’s a show that mesmerized a lot of us in our youth and that quality of cartoon storytelling is rare these days. I fear for what my kid’s will have to grow up on. Anyone know where I can get Thundercats and Muppet Babies reasonably priced on DVD?
You know what…? No. And I’ll tell you why. Before I had an obsessive problem with DVDs and an unnecessary amount of them to prove it, I had an obsessive problem with VHS tapes and similar problems with storage. In the mid 90’s as DVDs began to become the standard, I started restraining myself on buying certain movies on VHS instead waiting to buy them on DVD. I didn’t even have a DVD player yet, but I knew that some movies were worth waiting for. They were DVD worthy.
On the eve of the next advancement in home video technology with, I’ve decided not to buy Transformers on DVD because I don’t want to end up buying it again on HD-DVD. And with the top-notch visuals in this movie it’ll be worth the wait.
Independence Day - The timing is a little; serendipitous with Transformers coming out on the July 4th weekend, but calendar coincidences aside, this 1996 alien invasion movie has a lot of similarities to the one that’s wowing audiences 11 years later. Similarities beyond the big budgets, big explosions and big audiences.
Both films approach the story from multiple perspectives. Because these are worldwide event we get to follow the path of the government, the military, and the average man, getting little tastes of how each reacts to the common threat. Independence Day actually handles this much better than Transformers because each end of the spectrum is so well developed. We care about everyone from the President to the stripper (admittedly, for different reasons) because everyone is given time to really evolve. Transformers can only manage to make us worry about 2 or 3 out of a cast of 20, perhaps relying on nostalgia to endear them to us.
As well Independence Day relates its characters’ struggles, the movie can’t manage to contain its corniness. Speeches, one-liners, and even death scenes meant to inspire and amaze come off as forced and unnatural. Transformers shares some of these moments, but to a lesser extent. I can deal with listening to Prime talk about doing the right thing, but my fast forward button doesn’t go to waste when it comes time for Bill Pullmen’s big monolog in ID4.
Cloverfield - Don’t worry, I’ve never heard of this movie either. Partially because it’s still listed at IMDB as Untitled J.J. Abrams Project, but more so because the blistering and intense teaser trailer that aired worldwide this weekend before Transformers and closes with the Statue of Liberty’s head tumbling down the street, featured no title. Something that left the audience as confused as they were impressed.
It’s a brilliant campaign really, because whether or not you were savvy enough to do the legwork to track down the movie’s details, the vacant title was enough to make it stand out to you. Then, when one of your more proactive friends sent you the address or posted it on your message board later in the week (thanks Steve), you knew exactly what they’re talking about.
An official site has been found, but unless you’re impressed by two pictures of people’s faces and a party, then you probably won’t enjoy the click.
I still know next to nothing about the plot of the film from first time director Matt Reeves, though the popular opinion seems to be Godzilla or a Godzilla like beats that is capable of knocking Lady Liberties head clean off. Honestly though, it doesn’t matter what it is. I mean, I hope the plot is good, but the trailer has already showed me a real and raw look at some sort of massive, monster, disaster with great effects and a great perspective. For me that’s enough to set off my radar and make me want to check it out next winters big mystery movie.
The release date is slated for January 8th. The summer movie season creeks back further and further every year.
Remember Clickwheel? It’s the service that allows you to download and view web comics or your iPod. After some time off from the service, I’ve been lured back with their new promotional push for the iPhone. There are a lot of great new features, and to sweeten the pot and draw a little attention towards the service Clickwheel is featuring some exclusives strips. I’m thrilled to be part of it posting 2 spanking new ones from JLCM that you won’t see anywhere else online, including here at Digital Pimp.
Here’s a direct link to my page where you can find the two exclusive strips (for Babel and Daredevil) as well as a collection of over 5 pages of JLCM favorites you can add to your iPod or view in your browser. TECHNOLOGY!
Speaking of technology, tune in to tonight’s Triple feature where Gordon, Tom and I will be talking about Transformers and the release of Harry Potter on Wednesday. I for one am really excited about Order of the Phoenix. Yeo read through all the books, so I know she’ll be nitpicking it to death, but with four really entertaining lead-ins and a 3-D showdown with you-know-who, I’ve got nothing but goose bumps in anticipation for this film.
And my last little plug goes to a Harry Potter related subject - The Muggle T-Shirts! These bad boys are on pre-order until Friday the 13th, so be sure to get your order in before then. After that there’s no guarantee there will be a shirt in your size available. More on that in the Order of the Phoenix update though. See you soon!
Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V