Discloser: I was a big Transformers junkie as a kid. I got hooked into the Hasbro marketing machine. I had all the toys I could convince my parents to buy, watched all the episodes I could, and shared my interest with many of my friends who were also Transformer addicts.
When I saw the very first trailer for the recent Transformers movie a couple years ago, I was quite disappointed and confused. The short clip showed the Mars landscape and only a silhouette of a giant robot. It suggested that some part of the movie was going to begin on the red planet and the speculations flew across the Internet. The one thing that was evident to everyone was that the people behind this movie were not interested in preserving the original Generation 1 cannon.
In the time leading up to the final trailers, I was convinced it was going to be a poor film. For me, the Transformers of my childhood was the One True Transformers universe. Anything else was going to be bad. The fact that they called it Transformers was simply to exploit a brand-name. Afterall, how could this new “re-envisioning” of a childhood pantheon ever live up to the expectations of an obsessed die-hard generation of Transformer geeks?
When the final trailers were released, I picked apart the differences piece for piece. No subtle difference was left unturned. Each one was an atrocity. Bumblebee was a VW Beatle, not a Camaro. Optimus Prime didn’t have flames painted on him. Megatron transformed into a pistol, not a giant spaceship thing.
I was determined that I wasn’t going to see the film when it came out. How dare they re-envision the classic? My childhood epic reduced to a Hollywood blockbuster. People wouldn’t see it the way it was meant to be seen; they would never know what it was really like.
Despite all of that, I decided to go see it. I saw the extended trailers and was blown away by the effects. I thought that if they were going to ruin it, they ruined it with style. I could suspend my belief, accept that it wasn’t the Transformers I knew, and see it for the effects. Like we do with most summer movies these days.
Well, it wasn’t good.
But that’s not a bad thing. It was actually enjoyable. The dialog was absolutely terrible… just like it was in the original series. It also made a few jokes at its own expense, saving itself from the embarrassment fans would have given it had it tried to take itself seriously. Some of the cinematography was absolutely cheesy and unbelievable — guy and girl both avoid getting blown up for the umpteenth time followed by a closeup shot of her hand reaching across the marred concrete for his. It was just terrible.
But I haven’t had so much fun.
The action scenes were incredible. As the observer, I really felt the perspective on the Transformers rather than just seeing it. I felt like a tiny little human stumbling around under the feet of giant metal behemoths. I laughed a little. I rolled my eyes. I had a good time. It was over-the-top and it was great.
So the official word is that the movie is okay. It’s probably not going to win any Oscars. It’s not going to live up the expectations you may have from the Transformers you knew. It’s not even going to move you. But it will entertain you if you’re just looking for a simple action flick.