Thursday, August 30, 2007

Transformers Review

Word to the wise: If a film makes $300 million without being a sequel, chances are it's probably a good film.

I wish I adhered to this lesson sooner because I ended up stumbling upon this movie inadvertently (I was waiting for another movie to start and wandered into the Transformers theater) and I was fortunate to discover THE event picture of the summer even if it was eight weeks past its release and there was no one left who hadn't seen it that I could proclaim it's greatness to.Produced by Stephen Spielberg and directed by Michael Bay, I'm happy to report that between the clash of these two creative visionaries (or should I say one creative visionary and a guy whose primary interest as a movie director is making things explode), that the end result is a movie that's far more Spielberg than it is Bay.

Transformers plays out along the lines of Spielberg's "Things are best seen from a children's point of view" theme that is most closely associated with E.T. Along the lines of this E.T. analogy, massive credit goes to the casting department for using Shia LeBouf in the "Drew Barrymore" role, because he is largely the reason the film works so well. Charismatic, a little vulnerable, and witty, Shia LeBouf balances the heavy mythology with lighthearted fun reminiscent of Han Solo's role in Star Wars. I think it's also a good bet that like Harrison Ford, Shia LeBouf will enjoy a rich and long-lived career.

While coming off as the second coming of E.T., the film also has a touch of Roland Emmerich films like The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day where the impossible task of trying to portray an entire planet as it deals with a global attack is portrayed through a cross-section of people whose story lines weave closer together as the plot progresses and there were plenty of interesting characters from Jon Voight's airhead Secretary of defense (a little reminiscent of Rumsfeld but a slightly better listener) to Jon Turturro as a special agent to Rachel Taylor as a sexy intelligent computer programmer to Megan Fox as a very compelling girl-next-door type who commands the protagonist's interest. The only two people in the cast who I don't feel added much were Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel as the macho army guys. I don't think they treated the material in as lighthearted a manner as the others in the picture.

Of course, with Michael Bay as the director, the action gets a little excessive (especially in the final battle scene) and the film isn't as good as Independence Day because there's just too much CGI, but ultimately, the film is all about character and that's what makes it memorable.