Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Transformers" -- *

I don't want to succumb to hyperbole, but I think "Transformers" may be the stupidest movie I've ever seen. Wait, let me back up.

I've been long spoiled by screenings, but I decided if there was ever a movie to see with an excited, paying crowd, it was Michael Bay's "Transformers." So I bought my tickets (weeks in advance, mind you) for the 8 p.m. showing on Monday, 7/2. Believe it or not, I was actually excited about this movie. No, I didn't play with the toys as a child, but I saw the trailer and thought it looked like completely brainless fun. The special effects looked great, the action awesome, and it just looked like a movie I'd have a blast with. Well, "fun" would probably be the last word I'd use to describe my experience watching this movie. I hated "Transformers." Fucking hated it.

I never quite thought I would call a movie based on a Hasbro line of toys "too silly," but really, this thing doesn't take itself seriously for a second, to the extent where there's never any sense of danger, fun, wonder. Bay basically just cracks jokes throughout the entirety of the movie, to the point where you can accurately label it a comedy.

I don't know how better to sum up the movie for you then to tell you, at the 1hr-45min mark, I actually took out my phone during the movie and sent my friend a text message. I do not do this. I'm the biggest movie etiquette snob in the world. But I was in such disbelief in what I had just witnessed, I couldn't control myself. The text message: "A robot just pissed on John Turturro..." Yes, midway through "Transformers," a robot pisses on John Turturro.

I had difficult explaining to my friends why I hated this movie so much. Anytime I'd decry its absurdity/silliness, they'd exclaim, "Of course it is! It's a transformers movie!" But I don't want realism. If this movie was simply cars/robots transforming and fighting for the whole movie, I probably would've had a pretty good time with it. The problem is, it's incredibly inept filmmaking (aside from the special effects, which may be the best I've ever seen).

But regardless, now I'm going to do something else I don't usually do: quote another critic instead of writing a complete review myself. Vern's review on so well articulates my thoughts on the film, and puts into words feelings I couldn't quite do myself. So I recommend you head over and read his review (, but if you don't have the time, I'll throw some excerpts at you-- criticisms I particularly agreed with.

Seriously, this movie is shit. Some of you will enjoy it (I've already spoken to a half dozen people who did), but I beg of you, if you must see it, buy a ticket for a worthier movie in your multiplex (I suggest "1408" or "Ratatouille") and just sneak into Bay's latest opus. Anyway, here's Vern:

"It's fitting that the movie begins in "QATAR - THE MIDDLE EAST." (Need to establish location and tell the audience you think they're idiots at the same time? Try subtitles!)"

[Ed. note: I chortled at this as well. Reminiscent of the subtitle in "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" reading "Tokyo, Japan." As opposed to what, Tokyo, Germany?]

"Ever since I heard Michael Bay was hired for this job I thought it was tailor made for him. The dude is obsessed with sports cars and has never felt a human emotion, how could you do better than hiring him to make a huge expensive movie where the main characters are cars? It's like God made up The Transformers just to get some use out of Michael Bay."

"The movie's main problem is the same one as BAD BOYS 2: constant, embarrassingly unfunny jokes. Is it too difficult to take anything seriously anymore? Everything's gotta be wacky: Shia has a little dog with a cast and he feeds it painkillers. He rides a pink girls' bike and crashes in front of the girl he likes. A robot pulls his pants down so he's in his boxers. Anthony Anderson eats a bunch of donuts. Bernie Mac's mom flips him the bird. A fat guy dances. When robots attack later, there are lots of half-assed "jokes" about little kids saying "cool!" or comparing it to ARMAGEDDON or thinking a robot is the tooth fairy.

The "jokes" are more rapid-fire than a DTV Leslie Nielsen movie, and with an equal or lesser success rate. Even in that opening robot attack they don't have the discipline to take it seriously for 60 fuckin seconds, they have to have the guy from TURISTAS who looks like Johnny Knoxville on the phone arguing with a cartoonish Indian operator (ooh, topical) while Tyrese keeps yelling something about his left ass cheek."

"For a movie produced by Spielberg it's surprisingly low on awe. People are supposed to be surprised to see robots, but they always turn it into jokes. There's not one second in the movie where you believe people are really reacting to seeing robots. In JURASSIC PARK or in WAR OF THE WORLDS or many other Spielberg movies, you believed these people really were having their minds blown by what was standing right in front of them. In TRANSFORMERS they say things like "It's a robot. You know, like a super advanced robot. It's probably Japanese," and you're supposed to laugh."

"So you got this hour of waiting for it to get to the god damn robots, and then when it happens you realize you don't like them that much more than the people. Admittedly, they are the one thing that makes this more watchable than the other Michael Bay movies. From the ones I've seen I think this is his worst movie, but it's bad in a more fascinating way, like a $200 million version of that tv show "Power Rangers.""

"[There] is one of the great "did I really just see that?" moments when one of the robots says something along the lines of "Yo yo yo wussssUUUUUUPPPP Autobots REPRESENT!" and I don't think he was eating robotic chicken or watermelon but I swear to you on my mother's grave that he started breakdancing. And I'm sure black stereotype robot was in other parts of the movie but the next time I was sure it was the same character was at the end when Optimus Prime was casually holding his broken-in-half corpse like it was the pieces of a plate he dropped."

"And all the robots are here on earth to find a pair of glasses, which are in Shia's bedroom in a backpack, so it should probaly have taken 30 seconds of screen time to get to them instead of 90 minutes. There is a part that I almost think I might've dreamed but I remember it so vividly, where there is a cartoon BOING! sound and then there's a long shot of one of the robots proudly pissing all over John Turturro. This guy has toiled away in independent film for decades, done so much great work and in order to get a pay check he has to get R. Kellyed by a fucking cartoon robot."

"And then all the sudden Shia's car/robot/pet gets shocked and dragged away on cables and the score turns into violins like it's SCHINDLER'S LIST. It is an understatement to say that this heartwrenching music is not earned. It's like if Jennifer Love Hewitt's character in GARFIELD found out she had cancer and we were expected to get choked up."

"We have already seen enough reviews to know that some people can enjoy this. I talked to a guy who loved it, said it was the best movie he's seen this year, that it knew what it was and was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and what do you expect, it's The Transformers, it's a summer blockbuster movie, it's awesome. I'm glad he enjoyed it, but none of those arguments hold water with me, and I can't help but be sad that this is what we are willing to accept as entertainment. BATMAN AND ROBIN knew what it was and was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and what did we expect. And if just because it's Transformers it's allowed to be inept, moronic garbage, then why are we going to see a movie based on Transformers in the first place? I know DADDY DAY CAMP is gonna be awful but I don't expect these same people running out saying that was awesome because what do you expect, it's DADDY DAY CAMP."

"Everyone expects this movie to be a huge runaway hit, a moneymaking juggernaut. It happened with ARMAGEDDON and INDEPENDENCE DAY and I lived through election 2004, so certainly I can see that happening. But man oh man do I not get it. Women, especially, I have respect for, and I cannot understand them getting any sort of enjoyment out of these goofy cartoon junkpiles wrestling each other and saying things like "One shall stand and one shall fall!" If this is accepted as good entertainment then we're another step closer to the world of IDIOCRACY and the hit movie ASS.

If America loves this movie, I want a fuckin recount."

Well said, Vern. For the record, in the span of 24 hours, I saw this shit TWICE. For two reasons: (1) On Monday night, I was in a pissy mood, and Tuesday morning I thought maybe it was my mood that kept me from enjoying the film that my audience gave a standing ovation to (though to be fair, this was an audience who gasped and said "Oh, DAYUM" in unison at a shot of an expensive engine), and (2) I got incredibly drunk late Monday night and proceeded to forget why I hated the movie so much and wanted to refresh my memory. So more refreshed and in a much better mood, I saw "Transformers" again Tuesday afternoon. It truly is shit.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Michael Bay has still only made one good movie, and that is "The Rock."


Blogger Calvin said...

I used to go to Towson and read your reviews in the Towerlight. Sometimes I agreed with them and sometimes I didn't. This time though can't say that I would agree with you.

It's just a popcorn movie and its that simple. There is no way that I could possibly enjoy this film if it was taken seriously at all. It's giant ass robots fighting each other, and on a rainy 4th of July it was probably the only way any of us were going to get any fireworks (well except for the ones going crazy at my apt complex, and its raining).

I wasn't expecting Citizen Kane or The English Patient, but I was expecting to have some fun, and I am sure that the audience that I was with had a great time, as there was cheering throughout the movie.

I know that you are probably more of a pro when its comes to movies and I respect that, but I do hope that when you watch films that you step back and look at them from the point of a normal audience member. Not all films that come out need to change the world. Sometimes we just have to be dumb for a bit.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

As I thought I said numerous times in my review, I wanted this movie to be a brainless piece of fun and that's all I expected of it. The problem is it's a condescending piece of shit.

It's one of the most frustrating criticisms I hear when people say things like "It's not supposed to be 'Citizen Kane'..." Well, I wouldn't WANT every movie to be on that plane of seriousness/importance, nor do I hold every movie to the same standard.

One of my favorite movies of the year is "Hot Fuzz," and I recently had a blast with "Hairspray," "Live Free or Die Hard," "Knocked Up" and "1408." None of these movies could possibly be called high art, and they're not supposed to be.

I didn't dislike "Transformers" because it's brainless-- I expected that-- I disliked it because it's a complete failure as a movie for anyone who wants anything from their entertainment besides fast-moving shiny objects.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Calvin said...

Haha I read your review again, I still liked it but I can agree with you that I am one of the people who said "DAYUM" when I saw that engine! In truth this was a car commercial in some regards (it helped him to keep the budget down apparently) but I love my cars.

I never figured out why Sam would have a problem with that old school Uncle had one and they were nice!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Just.Rob said...

This movie accomplishes what it set out to do... look pretty and make money, and that's all. To be perfectly honest, I do believe that the audience is stupid enough to need the fact that Qatar is in the middle east to be blatantly pointed out to them. I also think that if there were ever a movie where it's ok to shout DAYUM... this would be it.

Yes the plot is incredibly thin... yes the script is incredibly stupid... no megan fox would never ever ever fuck shia labouf... but thats not the point!

When I walked into the theatre (after finally seeing the J.J. Abrams trailer) I shut down my common sense and logic parts of my brain, and just sat back and waited to be entertained by big flashy explosions.

Michael Bay did what Michael Bay does best... Made an absolutely ludicrous, completely vacuous, entirely unpretentious action movie... and it was awesome.

1:56 PM  
Blogger The D-Bags said...

Toooootal piece of shit. Total piece of shit.

7:38 PM  

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