Transformers. What can you say? Giant alien robots that turn into cars, tanks, planes, guns and all kinds of other crap and beat the living shit out of each other. The idea was pure genius. It started out as a little toy line by Hasbro but evolved into the biggest franchise to come out of the 80s. It included several animated series, (the most famous one from the 80s), comic books, a full length animated film, two live action films released in the 2000s and more action figures then I can count. With the film, Transformers: Dark of the Moon due for release next week, I decided to do a post on my thoughts the three previous films. This is The Illusive One's Thoughts On The Transformers Films.
Transformers: The Movie (1986)
To start things off, let’s go back to the 1986 animated film, Transformers: The Movie. This is one that only hard core Transformers fans seem to know about and is very obscure to modern audiences. However, it's arguably the best of the three so far. It takes place during the futuristic era of 2005, (apparently I'm not the only one but I don't seem to remember flying cars around in that year), where the Autobots have made a new city on Earth after the Decepticons took over Cybertron. However, a transformer the size of a planet called Unicron, (voice oddly enough by Orson Welles in his final role who didn't even care enough to learn the character's name), is consuming planets all throughout the galaxy and Cybertron is next on his list. In order to save his home planet from Unicron's wrath, Megatron agrees to help him find and destroy a kind of leadership talisman called the Matrix and the battle against the Decepticons and Unicron ensues.
Before I get into the positives and negatives of this film, I have to address how many of the major characters died. I have to say, the first half of the film was just a flat out blood bath. The Decepticons attack Autobot City and all the old Transformers just slaughter each other, most notably Optimus Prime. His death in particular is considered to be one of the saddest moments for any kid who grew up in the 80s and I agree. It is sad. I had heard about all of these deaths prior to watching this movie but still! Just damn! Everyone addresses this and everyone knows it was a marketing ploy to introduce a new line of toys but it still was pretty shocking to see all of those beloved characters killed off in so short of a time span. That said, let’s move on.
On the positive side, I couldn't help but love the fights. Just seeing all these robots beat the shit out of each other, shoot each other and tear each other to pieces was just awesome to look at. I also felt that while killing off so many of the old transformers was shocking I also thought it was a bold move and cool to see these robots actually die rather them just retreat, lick their wounds and fight another day. The music, while cheesy as hell, I couldn't help but enjoy and matched what was on screen perfectly. The best part of this whole movie, however, was Unicron. Orson Welles did a great job voicing him and he was probably the best villain to come out of the 80s animated series. A planet consuming Transformer; it was just brilliant.
On the negative side, there was a lot of random crap that seemed to happen in this movie just as filler. For example, before the surviving Autobots get to Cybertron, they crash land on a planet with a hostile population who try to kill them. Not ten minutes later, they're helping them and start singing and dancing. How the hell did that happen? About a third of this movie was just weird filler like that and it annoyed the crap out of me. At times it didn't feel like a Transformers movie as much as Star Trek with giant robots and that's the biggest problem with the movie. The general story telling just isn't that good and nearly inconsistent. Last to note is how they kill Unicron. I won't spoil it but suffice to say it's a deus ex machina thing and just annoyed me.
All around, if you're a kid, it's a fun movie. If you're an adult it has a nostalgia factor to it. If you're like me and didn't see it until you were older it still has a campy feel to it and is worth checking out.
In the 20 years in between the 1986 film and the 2007 film the series continued to run and had various spinoffs and reboots produced such as Beast Wars and Transformers: Armada. Then in 2007 came the first live action Transformers movie, Transformers. It was directed by Michael Bay and starred Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, and Jon Voight. Its plot revolves around and object called the All Spark that crashed on Earth eons ago. This object is one that is able to create new transformer robots and the Autobots and Decepticons come to Earth to gain possession of it. In the middle is our protagonist Sam Witwicky who gets caught up in this mess by owning a pair of glasses that has the location of the All Spark etched into it, (just watch the movie to find out how).
On the positive side the special effects were awesome. The way the transformers moved and transformed was really cool and perfectly done. Had they done this any earlier I seriously doubt they would have been able to pull it off so well. I also thought it was really cool the way they brought in Peter Cullen to reprised his voice role of Optimus Prime. A lot of the humor in this film was also really good, particularly Sam's interactions with the transformers and his bumbling attempts woo Mikaela. The Autobots also had great personalities to them. Some were serious, some were funny and some were so serious that they were funny. And, as always, Megatron is one hell of a villain only this time he was a lot more demented and a lot more badass.
On the negative side, I couldn't help but not like the action in this movie. I honestly have no idea why everyone seems to like it so much because it's really not that good. Half the time you’re not even sure if what’s being shot is an Autobot or a Decepticon and you’re never sure when these things are dead. One moment it will seem dead and the next it will get up as if nothing had happened. My biggest problem with the action in this movie, however, is that you don't see half of it. Often half of the transformers' bodies would be off camera and the next thing you know their head would roll on to the screen and I would find myself saying “What the hell happened?” For example, during the final fight Optimus Prime was getting pulverized by Megatron but you didn't see any of it. All you would see was Optimus getting thrown halfway down a block and then it would cut to something else. The whole thing was very annoying and I felt it brought the whole movie down.
While I felt the action in this film was very disappointing, I did like this movie. The plot was so-so and seemed like it was written for kids but I felt the good outweighed the bad. It was a typical summer blockbuster but its well worth any Transformers fan's time.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
After the success of the first film, Michael Bay and company immediately started working on the next film. Two years later, the result was released into theaters and was the highest grossing movie of the 2009 summer, (beaten for the year by James Cameron's Avatar). The plot of this box office giant was....well…it's about....yea that's about everyone's feelings on the plot. It's practically nonexistent but I'll explain it the best I can. From what I gather this ancient Decepticon called The Fallen, (how corny), with Megatron's help, plans to activate a machine on Earth that will draw power from the sun and destroy it in the process. Somehow Sam gets the location of the key to this device inscribed into his head and the decepticons hunt him for it.
Before I get into the positives and negatives of this film I have address it's relation to the 1986 film. Oddly enough, it had a lot of similarities to it, most notable being the death of Optimus Prime so early in the film. Another similarity is the device that activates the doomsday machine is called the Matrix which was what Unicron was after in the 1986 film. The last similarity to note is the way the Matrix works. Without giving anything away, it makes new Primes. I always felt they were odd similarities and worth mentioning because no one seems to notice them. It's a lot like the walker blowing up in Empire Strikes Back. It's wired, it's there, but no one ever seems to mention it. That said, let’s go to the goods and bads of this film.
On the positive side, the special effects were just as good as they were in the first film. Watching the transformers transform was still cool to watch and I never get tired of it. While the humor wasn't as good as the humor from the first it was still had me laughing my ass off. Then you had Megan Fox. In the first film, she wasn't at its forefront but in this one she was. It seemed like every fifteen minutes she was stripping something off or bending in suggestive manners. More serious critics may include this on the negatives for some God unknown reason but I wasn't complaining, nor was anyone I knew. The song New Divide by Linkin Park was a welcome addition to the soundtrack and was actually a lot better than anything they had on A Thousand Suns but that's a discussion for another day. Last to mention, is the action and, my God, was it an improvement. With the first film you had action that literally went off camera and half the time it happened when the camera was elsewhere. With this film, the fights were fluent, better choreographed, and awesome to watch.
On the negative side, everything else went downhill in this film. The dialog sucked and there were many lines that were just stupid and/or didn't make any sense. There were also a lot of stupid moments, most notably the giant transformer's balls, (just watch it to find out). Then you had the plot. Wait! What plot? Exactly! It just seemed non-existent. I don't know how else to describe it. Whenever someone tried to explain it you got about ten seconds of explanation, then they stopped and cut to an action scene or to Megan Fox. It just annoyed the crap out of me and made me wish they had put a little more effort into the story.
You also had this stereotypical government dick head who wanted to believe the Decepticons weren’t a threat. Under the right circumstances these kinds of characters can be welcome additions to the cast but here it's obvious he was just put there to be a stereotype. It just annoys the crap out of me when films do that. The last negative thing to mention is how they got to Egypt. How do they get their? Well, an ancient transformer teleports them their so his narrative will have more power to it. WHAT THE FUCK!? And he only tells it for about two minutes before disappearing! It was just a stupid way to get them to Egypt for the final battle and has bothered me to no end.
Despite all of its flaws, I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy this film. The special effects were still cool, it was still pretty funny, and the action was a lot better. As far as the characters go, they weren't that great in the first one either. As far as the plot goes, the first one didn't have that great of a plot either. With the first one it seemed like it was just an excuse to bring the transformers to Earth and to make a movie while the plot of the second film just seemed like an excuse to make a second movie. But yea. Both the plot and characters of this film were less then paper thin. But it was still an awesome movie to watch.
And those are my thoughts on the Transformers films. The first movie was good for what it was and the live action films were both good popcorn movies and a lot of fun. They're not masterpieces by any means but still worth checking out. The new film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, (I sense Pink Floyd influence in this title), is due for release next week and I have no doubt that it's just going to be another popcorn movie. It'll be worth watching but not remembering. So until next time this is The Illusive One and play this video below for my final remark.
God I love that song!