Transformers, Borderline Genius?

At least according to Rob “Freaking” Balder.

After spending hours at Ballston drawing little dwagons and gobwins fighting woodsy elves and gumps while battling for Gobwin Knob, Rob “Freaking” Balder, his girlfriend, and I went upstairs to catch the 3:20pm showing of Transformers. Much to my amazement, both Rob and his girlfriend came out with beaming smiles on their faces. Rob would later describe his thoughts on the film declaring that some of the scenes, especially the dialog, “borderline genius.”

I respect Rob’s opinion. I wouldn’t be working with him and spending most of my free time chained to a desk drawing until my arm falls off if I didn’t think highly of his writing skills. Clearly, he was quite impressed with the movie giving it some fairly high praise. The problem must be me.

To be fair, I thought it was very entertaining. Genius? Hardly. But damn sight entertaining. It didn’t feel like two hours had passed. By contrast, I felt every painful minute of Spider-Man 3 and wished the franchise had ended when Doc Oc sank to the bottom of the lake. Transformers is much better than Spider-Man 3.

There were parts that I particularly enjoyed. Megan Fox is entirely too hot. And she’s a fucking badass. Shia LaBeouf brought a sort of younger John Cusak quality to his performance. Quite likable. Bumblebee communicating through the radio was cute in a Herbie the Love Bug kind of way. I appreciated the diversity of the military cast and Michael Bay lurvs them. He makes them look so damn good. The Department of Defense should hire him to direct their commercials.

There were more parts that I didn’t particularly care for. Indeed, this movie featured most of the things I can’t stand about modern action films. Jerky camera work, close shots of major fights, quick frenetic jump cuts. I understand that filmmakers want to put the audience right in the action, but if you’re showing off your giant CG robots, how about giving the animators a break and throwing in some wide shots of fight scenes. That shit must have been hell for the animators to camera track. The movie is entirely too loud. At one point, the speakers in our theater decided they couldn’t keep up and dropped the volume a few decibels to avoid real life explody. If you’re audio is going to be that damn loud, at least give me something to hum when I walk out of the theater. The soundtrack is ultimately forgettable. I did find myself humming “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” by Tomoyasu Hotei, but I could have been walking out of Kill Bill and you’d never know the difference.

And there were completely pedantic and nerdy things that I couldn’t get over. Yes, this part of my argument is possibly the most lame because it’s mostly things that I just plain don’t like. The robots don’t do it for me. To be fair, I’m not a purist. I don’t care that the G1 designs weren’t used for the movie. I just don’t like the ones they chose. Their designs are so complex and the fight scenes cut so quickly that it’s difficult to know who to root for when they’re fighting each other. “Go kick some ass you with the dark metal pipe/spiky things! Beat that other dude with the… uh… pipe/twisty/motor/pipe/spiky things… and stuff.” Megatron is a pansy. There, I said it. The greatest threat to the planet and all he manages to do is destroy an underground bunker, smash up some buildings, and flick a puny flesh bag? Hardly fear-inspiring. The Optimus Megatron fight suffered from close shots and jump cuts. I could tell who was who because of the nifty tribal flames, but damned if I could tell you who punched who.

Apparently, I’m in the minority.

Most everyone I’ve talked to really enjoyed watching Transformers. I know I saw the same movie that they saw. It must just be me. I didn’t hate it like I hate Showgirls (holy fucking pussy shit is that movie awful). And I’ll admit, it was entertaining to see it on the big screen. And the effects were simply brilliant. And still, I didn’t really like it.

Ah well. Transformers 2 and 3 are well on their way. Maybe I’ll have another chance to jump on the band wagon.