San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Transformers’ Latest Move to Big Screen Not a Flop

Well, at least not a complete flop.

“Transformers,” perhaps this summer’s most hyped-up and expensive film, had it tough from the start: trying to please a dedicated fan base that’s at least 20 years old, translating a difficult theme to the big screen and dealing with legal clashes regarding the original cartoon’s trademark. Still, a $150 million budget has to make everything easier.

The digital effects in this film are, by almost any standard, incredible. The CG shots blend almost seamlessly with the real action. Giant robots fight in the middle of the city, throwing cars and trucks at each other, grappling like pro wrestlers, skidding down the highway and tearing up the concrete as if they were ice-skating happily along. This is all very enjoyable to watch, and it’s basically what you pay to see. It’s every special-effects fan’s dream come true. Really.

You won’t be disappointed.

Now, about the plot. Simply put: it sucks. The makers of the film, including director MichaelBay (“PearlHarbour,” “Armageddon”), knew they didn’t have to pay much attention to it, and that’s precisely what they did. A lot of us wanted to see a more mature approach to the story – maybe some sort of twist, or some character development beyond that of the 1980s cartoon.

But alas, they made the plot simple, trite and corny. I personally was losing interest halfway through the film until all the destruction began. Then I sat wide-eyed, watching in amazement as the robots smashed everything that stood in their way, including, evidently, any chance of a decent storyline.

Only the most basic elements from the cartoon survive in the movie, such as the names of the robots and how they interact with each other. It’s pretty fun to watch Megatron bickering with Starscream, and Bumblebee’s relationship with the boy is nicely established and developed.

There are differences, however. For example, the transforming method of the robots is different from that of the original toys, and Bumblebee is a Camaro, not a Volkswagen beetle. Of course, these are details that only fans of the cartoon notice, and they don’t really detract from the overall movie experience.

As a blockbuster movie, “Transformers” delivers satisfactorily, though it had the potential for so much more. But, numbed by the final action sequences, you probably won’t even notice.

 

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