Saturday, October 13, 2007

TRANSFORMERS

I was already in my 20’s when the original craze hit. I never watched the cartoon and never played with or collected the toys, so I had no real axe to grind with (or much interest in, frankly) Michael Bay’s big-budget, live-action version of TRANSFORMERS (2007). And I’m not a fan of most of Bay’s features, either (except for THE ROCK), finding them mostly just flash-bang and shallow, so if anything, my expectations when the advance screener showed up in my mail were on the low side.

Well, I liked it. It may not be a great movie, but everything considered, it was a lot more enjoyable than it had any right to be.

Teenager Sam Witwicky (appealing "everyman" Shia LaBeof, HOLES) buys a beat-up, used, yellow and black Camaro, which is eventually revealed to be the morphing alien "Autobot" Bumblebee. Before long, Sam and his new girlfriend Mikaela (sexy Megan Fox) find themselves embroiled in a conflict between the friendly Autobots (who change into cars & trucks) and their enemies, the evil, warlike Decepticons (who change into war machines like tanks and fighter jets). Both groups of bots are searching for a powerful artifact known as the Allspark, which crashed to Earth in the distant past and is now in the hands of a secret government agency.

Now, a couple things about this film impressed me. First, writers Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (MI:III, ALIAS) managed to make me interested in both the human characters and the ridiculously named robots. Second, the CGI effects were damn near flawless, which really helped me buy into these automatons as actual characters. I was also impressed at how unabashedly corny the filmmakers allowed themselves to be. It really worked for this particular film.

Paramount’s 2-disc special edition sports a flawless 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and deafening 5.1 Dolby Surround sound. There are a whole crapload of featurettes, covering almost every imaginable aspect of the making of the film and the history of the franchise, trailers, and various Easter Eggs.

If you’re a fan of the film or the Transformers in general, this is the edition to buy. If you know nothing of the franchise (as I did) you might want to rent it when it hits shelves next week. It’s a loud, fast-paced entertainment with a surprising amount of heart. Recommended.

BUY: Transformers (Two-Disc Special Edition)