Wednesday, July 11, 2007

2007, in theaters

You should know
I wasn’t one of the legions of little kids obsessed with Transformers. I actually have the 20th Anniversary edition of the original Transformers movie sitting next to my DVD player, waiting for me. In other words, I don’t have the background in the series that some do.

I saw this movie with Dan, who, like many, many men his age, was a huge fan as a kid.

Sam Witwicky is just a high school kid who wants two things: a car, and a girl. As the movie opens, he’s almost got the car, and to help pay it off, he’s selling off some antiques that belonged to his great-grandfather, an Arctic explorer. One of these antiques is a map to an alien artifact that is highly sought by two opposing groups of alien robots – one of whom is Sam’s car.

Now, if this plotline didn’t have the Transformers name attached to it, would you be at all interested? I might not be, unless it was in the Snakes on a Plane sense. But this was decent entertainment, if rather mindless.

That said, it was a giant commercial. Now, if you expected it not to be, I’m a little disappointed in you: this is a film based on a cartoon based on a toy. Of course it’s a commercial! It advertised the toys, as well as cars, soda, and the U.S. Army (and by extension, G. I. Joe, at least by my count), Furby, My Little Pony, and probably a good dozen other things I missed.

As for the story, there were a few too many stereotypes for my taste, and I don’t care if the Autobots did use the World Wide Web to learn English – Optimus Prime should never use the term “my bad” (to be fair, I hate the term “my bad”). And Bumblebee is just a little perverted. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say this: combine the early scene with the girl and the radio with the closing shot, and you’ll see.

Oh, go ahead
As I said, it’s mindless fun, and most of the fans I’ve spoken to have found at least something to enjoy – many even really enjoyed it. At worst it’s a dumb, action-packed summer film, but since it’s the middle of July, there’s nothing wrong with that.

The rest of the Internet
The IMDb page.
Wikipedia on the TV series and toys.
Middling opinions from critics and decent ones from users at Rotten Tomatoes.
The Transformers video game.
Roger Ebert seemed pleased but not thrilled.
Print up your own Transformers coloring book pages!
An unofficial Transformers Firefox theme.
An open letter to Optimus Prime.

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