Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Transformers review (a rant)

I don't visit the cinema as often as I used to. You see for two years I used to be a member of UGC's unlimited cinema club where for the privileged of them having my direct debit details (and dipping into it every once in a while) I got to watch as many films as often as I wanted to. But not any more (due to lack of time and lack of a cinema that provides the equivalent to the Unlimited Cinema membership around here). Because of this I tend to be more selective of any films I watch at the theatre. Besides ticket prices are getting higher and Screenselect/LoveFilm (to North American readers, these are similar to your Netflix service) has been providing a similar service to me for the past two years or so.

So when a live action film adaptation of one of my favourite franchise was announced I immediately vowed NOT to watch it. Having Steven Spielberg on board with Transformers did not change my mind. The casting of Michael Bay as the director further confirmed with my opinion that the film was heading from bad to awful. The only reason I would ever want to watch Transformers was Megan Fox, whose recurring appearance in the now canned Hope & Faith was the highlight of the short lived comedy series. And I wasn't alone. Many fans of Transformers who grew up watching the TV series and playing the toys also hated the idea.

I am not against the idea of a modern iteration of classic franchise but I have always felt that if there ever was one - someone with a great insight to the history of the franchise would be better. Hollywood's performance in rebooting series like Batman and Superman, as well as Ang Lee's incredibly dumb Hulk film, has always been a concern of mine. But maybe, just maybe, Michael Bay pulled it off. But I should have known better. Plenty of people did give Christopher Nolan's Batman reboot a favourable review, but I thought it was a boring shit especially when compared to Tim Burton's classics. When Transformers finally got released, critics gave in and many gave the film the thumbs up. Some of the original TV series fans even got converted and praised the Transformers as 'realistic'.

Like the critics, I broke down and ordered LoveFilm to send the DVD over. I lowered my expectations, readied to be showered with General Motors product placements on the scale of The Island. And boy was I disappointed. Was this the same film I watched as the critics? One praised the film as "ludicrious fun". The version I watched was anything but. It was tedious at best. The human storyline was a chore to watch (and yes, there were too many, for example the "hacker" storyline - what was that about?). Shia LaBeouf came off as ineffective and unlikeable in his portrayal of a two dimensional geek, and Megan Fox's acting skills were not once put to test. And lets not start on the Transformers themselves, whom were basically whims. Sure they are flashy when they are in their automobile mode, but pinch them a little and they will drop like flies kicking and crying like babies.

As expected, Michael Bay did turn the film into a orgy of "unrealistic action porn with average visuals of everything blown off creating a cinematography mess that gives migraine to people who watch them" at the expense of genuine human interaction and emotions. I have to watch Terminator 2 again, just to stir my brain up and prove to it that enjoyable, fun and balanced action films do once exist.

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