Friday, September 21, 2018

Transformers - The Review

by Glenn T (writer), Las Vegas, NV, July 21, 2007


I may have been the last person in my particular demographic to see the latest Transformers movie. Which is not to say that I didn’t want to see it earlier than I did, but every time I got to the vicinity of the theater and saw the line of people an hour before the listed showtime waiting to get go inside I became a little daunted at the idea of braving that mass of perpetually buzzing humanity whose prinicipal characteristic appeared to be the accompaniment of each party by at least one obscenely loud and mannerless young child. I love a large crowd in a movie theater as much as the next person – the cheers that go up during a particularly inspiring accomplishment by the protagonist, or the collective chuckle at an unexpected and cleverly placed joke are what makes the ten dollar ticket and five dollar bag of popcorn worth their price, but I have reached that particular age where the mindless noise generated at egregiously inappropriate times by the apparently-raised-by-wolves and recently pubescent crowd has become unavoidably upsetting. I’m fairly certain that this particular demographic, unfortunately, was one of the two to which this film was meant to appeal – the other being mine: those who experienced this toy revolution on its first go-round – along with its economically animated television counterpart. For us, the Transformers were a seminal part of our youth, not simple the latest CGI badasses to cut up downtown Los Angeles. So, I figured that I would let the other target group see the movie in its first week and half – and when they had moved on to seeing Harry Potter, or lining up for Simpsons tickets, I could see it in relative peace. And so I did, on a Tuesday evening, in a theater with maybe fifty people in it, with nary a studded belt, overgelled hairdo or Sidekick in sight.

In retrospect, it wasn’t a very good movie – almost all of it was predictable, overly obvious, and even more implausible than the basic premise of the movie already was. Subtlety is not a hallmark of Jerry Bruckheimer, he seems to prefer to the getting-the-point-across-by-slapping-you-in-the-face-with-it school of plot development. However, during the movie, I found myself completely engaged, cheering along and overwhelming satisfied with the experience. Why, you ask? Well, despite my attempts to convince myself otherwise, I was really only there for one reason, and that was to see Optimus Prime in (at least computer generated) real life. Seriously, the movie could have been five minutes long, consisted of Prime showing up, transforming back and forth, and delivering some iconic lines and then fading to black and I would have been completely happy with forking over my twenty bucks.

As an aside, and for those of you who don’t know who Optimus Prime is, he is the leader of the Autobots, the ‘good’ side of the battle of good and evil robots (for those interested, the ‘Decepticons’) upon which the entire Transformers franchise is based. To be certain, the only true genius in the entire production of this film was their securing the services of the original voice of Optimus Prime, ( find name here). Each time Prime spoke, the voice echoed from my childhood; a bellow as familiar as that of my father, or ninth grade algebra teacher. It instantly took me back to a time long forgotten and allowed me to rexperience the awe I thought I had lost the capacity for, that reserved for contemplating heroes and leaders as larger than life. The dialogue was, truthfully, unimportant, he very well could have been reciting lines from The Notebook, and I would have been glued to it like a sneak peek for Star Wars, Episode VII. (Oh, excuse me, is my inner dork showing?) But true to form – with the exception of one poorly conceived scene involving the protagonist’s parents and homestead – everything Prime uttered was fantastically iconic – with more great one liners than a Die Hard film.

For a generation of us, Optimus Prime was a selfless leader in an overwhelmingly selfish time. He was a reluctant ass-kicker – a gentle giant whose tremendous capacity for destruction was only brought to bear to protect some awkward but true-hearted young human, or one of his ceaselessly loyal, but oft-overzealous, soldiers. He was the antithesis of the primary media characters of our time – which each seem primarily flawed by their own reality. The unprecedented intrusion of mass media into the previously private lives of the principal celebrities of our youth introduced us to their fallability and weakness – and for almost all of them, their selfishness. And the fictional characters we were bombarded with were either silly, or underpowered and good-hearted. Optimus Prime was none of this; he was singularly paternal, and benevolent to his core. He was a leader that could be loved unconditionally, and he was. I realized that Prime may have been the first character I actually loved. And in addition to all of this – his alter-ego was a Mack truck – is there anything more American and identifiably cool to a young boy than that?

As could be expected, Prime came in, delivered purpose and direction to his band of vehicle/robot soldiers, and ‘rolled them out’ into battle. He, of course, ultimately did battle with his nemesis and evil counterpart, Megatron, with whom he was, predictably overmatched – and ultimately defeated with the unsolicited aid of his battle-wounded and weary cadre and newly empowered and previously under-dogged human friends. All of this was rendered in fantastically detailed CGI – which still didn’t quite accomplish the plausibility that it was ostensibly hoping for. But Prime offered up himself in sacrifice (although not required to go through with it as in the initial movie adaptation) and delivered a closing speech to a sunset, promising continued protection of our young race, and perpetual selfless leadership – delivered one wonderfully quotable declaration at a time.

To keep the Generation Z demographic interested in the franchise, the production team may very well have to come up with some plot twists and character involvement that provides an even richer opportunity to exercise a nine-digit visual effects budget, but for the Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller crowd, they only need to do one thing to get me back into the theater: make sure there’s a certain red and blue Mack truck rolling up when things get exceptionally daunting or directionless, transforming into the de facto godfather of an entire generation of once hero-less young boys. Bring back Optimus Prime, because, much like the Autobots in such sequels, we’ll still need him.

About the Writer

Glenn T is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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1 comments on Transformers - The Review

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By AM Nelson on July 25, 2007 at 07:27 pm
Didn't anybody else crackup? When the "bad-bot" flicks the human to "disgusting!" I enjoyed the campy humor...and G-Tech product placement.
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