Transformers: More and less than meets the eyes

Posted on June 25, 2009

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(no spoilers here!)
After the 2007 surprise hit of the first Transformers movie, there was nowhere for expectations to go but up. Personally, I was thrilled with the first outing for this long lived Hasbro toy line. I was a collector and a faithful cartoon fan as a kid. From the first movie, you can tell that technology had to catch up in order for the Autobots and Decepticons to come to life- and that they did. Michael Bay created a world that was full of continuity problems, plot holes, and wooden acting, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and thought it was one of the best movies to come out that year. The fun simply overcame the problems. Like I said, expectations are now high.

Fast forward to present day and I eagerly went to see Transformers 2 on opening day. To a mid-day sellout crowd, the next chapter of Michael Bay’s story began. The story continues with the main character, Sam Witwicky, going off to college to attempt a ‘normal life’ after the events of T-1. After discovering a ‘shard’ from the original ‘All Spark’, Sam is imprinted with critical information that could spell doom for not only Autobots but all of mankind. So Sam goes on the run and becomes the target of opportunity for all and then EVERYTHING blows up- over and over again.

So let me cut to the Autobot chase; overall, I liked it but not as much the first. Like the original, it is filled with continuity problems, plot holes, and wooden acting, but that wasn’t the problem for me. There really was a loss of ‘magic’ from the first. A large part of the excitement was seeing and meeting the Autobots for the first time. The charm was seeing the two worlds (human & Autobot) colliding for the first time. In this chapter, their worlds are fully integrated with little mystery or intrigue. Ultimately, when the presence of transforming robots is normal to the characters on screen, then it becomes normal to the audience. So unfortunately T-2 world and reality loses its mystique and makes it less interesting.

With that said, the action is unbelievable. It’s also in so much abundance that I felt physically pummeled by the end. I applaud Michael Bay’s vision for action sequences. He pulls no punches and calls in the Calvary (literally) to give his scenes a sense of scope and size. You fill like a war is unfolding right in front of you and its impressive. However, impressive can get in the way and over shadow what is really needed for a movie to succeed which is character development and good story- Transformers had neither.  If you go in with low expectations then you should enjoy this sequel, but take some asprin and bring ear plugs.

There are a few other quibbles. The profanity, crude humor, and sexuality are unecessary. You can tell most of it is added to just appease the teen audience. It felt very low brow and contributes little to the overall experience. There are some new characters that sadly serve as the ‘Jar Jar’ of the movie while other great characters fade to the background. With the exception of Optimus, all of the characters introduced in the first are almost forgotten. There was a lot of miss-management of characters and the movie suffered as a result.

With this all being said, I still liked the movie and plan on seeing it again. You practically have to in order to visible absorb the massive amount of action data that is in every other scene. Running at 2:40, it should have been trimmed down by 20 minutes, if anything to give the audience relief. As expected, an inevitable sequel is for sure on the horizons but my hope is that the next will transform into something that more than meets the eyes. So if you see it, lower your expectations, eat a power bar, and take some Tylenol.

To read more on my thoughts on movies, check out my movie review site @ Babble-on 5.

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