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Old 06-27-2007, 03:55 PM   #1
Tel Prydain
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Transformers Movie Preview Screening Review

So, funny story… I’m pre-ordering the Transformers game at the local game shop, and my friendly local manager asked if I had watched the show back in the 80s. I sheepishly admitted I still bought Transformer toys. He asked if I had tickets to the movie yet, and I told him I had yet to buy any. He asked if I wanted tickets to an advance screening… Obviously, I gleefully accepted.

I’m a bit of a Transformers nut. I was a child of the 80s, and all the ‘ad-toons’ from the era have a special place in my heart. But unlike Voltron and He-Man, the love of Transformers never really left me. Maybe because Transformers mixed awesome action figures with a rubik-style puzzle game. Transformers toys have always had ‘More then meets the eye’.
I have eighteen transformers of various sizes on my desk at work. I have DVDs and Comics. I’ve watched various series of varying atrociousness. I may never go to a bot-con, but it is fair to say that I am a fan. So it is also fair to say that I had both fear and excitement in equal measure going into the preview.

So, my wife and I arrived at the theater, and joined a line that consisted mostly of males aged between 25 and 30. There were a few kids sprinkled around, but they were definitely a small minority. Any women were there with a male partner.
One specific child of about five or six deserves special mention for coming in costume as ‘Rodimus Prime’ and he could ‘Transform’ by laying face down and putting his arms up. He was simultaneously the cutest and most awesome thing I’ve ever seen. The pre-movie prize giving was (somewhat obviously) rigged to give him one of the big Transformers as a prize, and the audience gave him a huge round of applause when he went up to collect it.
And then the movie started….

The movie focuses on the battle over the all-spark – the mysterious object that gave the Transformers life. Not only did it give the Transformers life, but it also has the power to bring other ‘normal’ electronic devices to life.
It is the pursuit of the cube that brings the Transformers earth, and it is the cube that will shape the future of one human boy – Spike Witwicky.

Really, this is the best action movie based on Transformers that I could have possibly hoped for. Note that I say “action movie based on Transformers” and not “Transformers Movie”. The movie is great, but the G1 purist in me wishes that the Transformers themselves had more screen-time. The Transformers didn’t get a whole lot of screen-time when they weren’t blowing things up, or racing around looking cool – which meant the robotic characters felt a bit underdeveloped. That was detrimental (specifically to the autobots) and lessened the emotional culmination of the film.

This movie is very specifically a human view of the Transformer’s battle. While your favourite characters are there, most of the movie they are an ominous threat in the background. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as they are supposed to be “Robots in Disguise”, not “Robots standing about making long speeches to give the illusion of character development”.
And to be fair, the movie contains roughly about the same amount of character development as a episode or two from the series does… the only reason that the Transformers from the series have ‘character’ is that we got to see them over the course of about a thousand episodes.
Of the Autobots, Prime and Bumblebee get most screen time and manage to fit in a little character development. Ironhide has enough screen time to effectively convey his personality, and does have two particularly good conversations with Prime about why exactly they should be helping humans, who really are just insects compared to them. Jazz and Ratchet are somewhat sidelined - which is a shame.

More disappointing is that the Decepticons get zero character development. Because of the comics, and the prequel novel, fans know of the internal politics and in fighting that is theoretically going on during the movie – but there is only a single line in the movie itself that even hints at that.
Of course, the movie barely has enough time for the good characters. And all we really need to know about them is that they are megalomaniacal alien robots that are coming to bust stuff up.

Luckily, just about every moment that the Transformers spend on screen is a fan-boy’s dream come true. The music, the action, the voice of Peter Cullen – even my wife, who isn’t a Transformers fan at all, got teary eyed. More then once I wanted to stand up and cheer. One specific sequence is now one of my favourite movie moments of all time, and it pains me that I have to wait a week before being able to discuss that moment with you.

One particularly contentious decision that Michael Bay had made during the redesign was to give Prime lips. This really didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The early footage we saw of Prime was clearly not finished, as the unmasked face of Prime in the movie only bore a passing resemblance to the flat one shown in early clips.
Speaking of contentious decisions, neither of the much discussed Transformer Theme remakes were featured in the movie or credits, which is somewhat odd.

I was happy that the ‘transforming’ sound is very much in the movie, but isn’t played during every transformation – only when it fits in. There are some clever uses along with the ‘standard’ version of the noise. Sometimes it was sped up, slowed down or played behind other transformation noises.
The sound effects were consistently top-notch for the whole production, but it was particularly satisfying to hear the clear homage to the original series.

The human characters all played their parts well; with the exception of one ‘hacker’ whom I wish the Decepticons would have squished (my wife did think he was ‘kinda’ funny). Megan Fox was hot, the kid (whatever his name was) was suitably geeky, the marines were badass and the Sam’s mother had some of the funniest moments of the film.
This movie has the classic action move cast, and the movie is really about them. It is the humans that undergo the most character development movie, specifically Sam.

The movie has a great number of action sequences, most of which can aptly be described as ‘epic’. The only possible complaint is that when massive, visually complicated alien robots are clashing the screen can become a flailing vortex of shrapnel… but that is, in it’s own way, awesome too.

About 75% of the way through the movie the screenwriter and the director obviously decide that there has been quite enough plot and character development, and now its time to make things blow up. This turning point is heralded by one of Primes iconic quotes and then a ‘fast cars looking stylish’ scene. From this point on logic takes a back seat and the fun begins. Anything that was cool before this moment was just practice.
Anyone who hated ‘plot holes’ in other blockbuster movies (Like Pirates of the Caribbean) are going to hate this segment, because there are a good five to six logically inconsistent things that I could name off the top of my head… but those people really need to remove the sticks from their butts and understand that they have just hopped on a giant-robot rollercoaster – logic has no place here. Here giant robot warlords rain ruin and humanity flees in terror.

This film is full of ‘Michael Bay moments’, but while ‘Michael Bay moments’ are grossly inappropriate for a move like Pearl Harbour, they fit this movie perfectly. The cheese is less like the stinky French variety, and more like the delicious cheese melted between the patties of a particularly delicious burger.

And make no mistake, this movie is the movie equivalent of junk food…. But it’s awesome junk food. The best compliment I can give it is, that the moment it finished, my wife wanted to go to the very next screening…. Which was at midnight. To convert somebody into a Transformer fan with concentrated awesomeness takes a special movie indeed.

This review sounds far more negative then I wanted it to be. This is movie of the year for me. The reason I’m not listing the things that were cool, funny or awesome is that I don’t want to ruin those moments for you. Rest assured that it has all three things in abundance.

In summing up, this is a great movie for casual moviegoers and action fans. Transformers fans will have the time of their bot-loving lives if they accept the new character designs and understand that this movie is a human view of the Transformers struggle.
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:30 PM   #2
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GREAT REVIEWS... ROLL OUT!!

Damn and I can't see this movie until the 7th!!!!!!
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:36 PM   #3
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Good review, appreciate it.
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:39 PM   #4
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Seeing it tomorrow night, can't wait.
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:39 PM   #5
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I've already got my ticket for July 3rd. It's going to kick some ass. But so will Die Hard, which I'm seeing in less than 2 hours!!!
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tel Prydain
My review.
Nicely done and spoiler free, appreciated.
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:39 PM   #7
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Quick question...How'd those lips turn out on Prime?
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Old 06-27-2007, 05:48 PM   #8
Tel Prydain
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psykoboy2
Quick question...How'd those lips turn out on Prime?
Quote:
Originally Posted by the review
One particularly contentious decision that Michael Bay had made during the redesign was to give Prime lips. This really didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The early footage we saw of Prime was clearly not finished, as the unmasked face of Prime in the movie only bore a passing resemblance to the flat one shown in early clips.

They are not great. I'm still not a fan, but they didn't bother me like I thought they would. You don’t get a lot of time to dwell on them, and half the time he is wearing the mask anyhow.
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Old 06-27-2007, 06:26 PM   #9
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Gret review, man. Got me all excited to see it And thanks for remaining spoiler free.
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:18 PM   #10
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Thanks... I've always been in the cautiously optimistic group, but I'm thankful that now that optimism can be a little less cautious.
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:18 PM   #11
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I really can't wait to see the movie... I might have to trek out to a theater for it, I'm not sure if I can wait on the DVD for this one. But I'll probably have to.
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:22 PM   #12
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So...not thought provoking nor are there any robot speeches...damn.
I am going then.
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malanthrax
So...not thought provoking nor are there any robot speeches...damn.
I am going then.
There are a few robot speeches, but I'm not going to say they were thought provoking. If anyone thinks that anything from G1 was thought provoking, they should seek medical help asap.

There is one G1 cartoon style Autobot meeting, but it doesn’t last too long… it was still nice to see Prime addressing the troops.
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Old 06-27-2007, 08:50 PM   #14
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Very nice review. Hard to write that much text without spoilers.
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Old 06-27-2007, 08:55 PM   #15
Tel Prydain
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Quote:
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Very nice review. Hard to write that much text without spoilers.
Writing about it helps me re-live it.
*happy sigh*
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Old 06-27-2007, 08:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tel Prydain
Writing about it helps me re-live it.
*happy sigh*
Amazing Review. Eased my mind. I grew up on it through my brother (I was born in 1989), but I still hold the series in high regard.

I must ask. Is "Autobots, transform and roll out" in the movie? I remember it did not win the contest they held...but still...it has to be right?
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:02 PM   #17
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It's coming out here Monday or Tuesday so I'm hoping I can get in on an early showing for employees, or I'll just wait until Monday to catch it. Sounds like it'll be entertaining, and as blasphemous as it is I was always more of a Ghostbusters fan than Transformers in my childhood.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:04 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kagger
Amazing Review. Eased my mind. I grew up on it through my brother (I was born in 1989), but I still hold the series in high regard.

I must ask. Is "Autobots, transform and roll out" in the movie? I remember it did not win the contest they held...but still...it has to be right?

So... you actually grew up on Beast Wars.

I pity you, I really do.


Oh, and as a result of the movie, Walmart seems to be stocking the 25th edition of the Transformers movie, fairly cheap. If you havent seen it, get it... its really cheesy but still brings a tear to me eye.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:09 PM   #19
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I feel I have to do a quick disclaimer to say that although this is definitely my movie of the year (slightly beating out ‘Hot Fuzz’), I don’t not pretend to claim that it will be your movie of the year.
This movie will be different things for different people. For most it will be a fun action movie. For some it will be a great action movie. I suppose that there will be a few for whom this movie is a unholy travesty. And for a few (like myself) it will be a perfect melding of action movie, nostalgia and the toy collection that sits in the back room.

For most people I’d recommend a mood of cautious optimism. That way the movie will either be what you expect, or a happy surprise.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:12 PM   #20
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woohoo!!! can't wait!
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