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transformed

July 9, 2009

I refused to go see Transformers when it first came out.  I just couldn’t see the point.  A movie based on toys?  That was a stretch, even for Hollywood.

To my mind, this is a completely different thing from movies based on comic books: comics have a rich history of detailed storytelling, filled with backstory and archetypes and characters with mixed motivations.

But toys?  I just couldn’t get there.

So, when the first Transformers movie came out, Ed took Kristina: they were both eager to see it, and they both enjoyed it.  That year, Kristina gave Ed a Transformer car for Christmas, and it was an inside story for them to share.

I was fine with that.

As the recent string of movies based on comic books have come out, we’ve seen and enjoyed them together: Batman Begins, Dark Knight, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, the X-Men franchise, and more.

(Clearly I have a Stan Lee bias – what can I say?)

What do they preview before these movies? Similar movies, of course.  I’ve seen quite a few previews for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  Enough to think that maybe the first movie was worth a look.  Before making a decision on whether to see the second.

So we saw it.  And I had a good time. 

Was it a mile-a-minute visual extravaganza, almost exhausting in how every frame is filled to the brim with action?  Yes.  It’s a Michael Bay flick.  Were the female characters two-dimensional stereotypes?  Yes, again.  See above, Michael Bay.

But I didn’t watch it to have my intellect stimulated.  It is not a film.  It is not theatre.  It is a Hollywood movie, a specific genre called the summer blockbuster.  It succeeds at being diverting.  It was funny, action-driven, adventurous escape.

I enjoy a wide range of movie and film styles, including intellectual foreign films, epic period pieces, and smart political/spy thrillers.  And sometimes, action-adventure movies of questionable depth. 

The better ones, of course, do offer some depth and cultural commentary, with witty dialogue well-delivered by talented actors.  Those are not the norm, I understand, but they do exist.

After seeing the first Transformers installment on video, I was excited to see the current release in the theatre.  The critics panned the movie, nearly universally – even those who had liked the first movie.  But I wanted to make my own decision.

Besides, I wanted to see Bumblebee again.  Oh how I love me a high-performance retro muscle car.  Especially one that talks through song lyrics and movie quotes.  Go, Bee!

bumblebee3

A good (?!) part of the afternoon before we went to see the movie was spent in serious conversation about the teenager and her future.  I needed a near-total change of scene.  Transformers 2 gave me that. 

My take: the movie is fun.

It succeeds at being diverting and entertaining.  The plot is super-model thin, the character development is bus-ticket thin, but that’s okay.  I didn’t expect more.  I laughed at the jokes, I winced at some of the more bone-headed moves, and I knew the good guys would win in the end. 

One of my very favourite quotes:

That hurt man!

It’s supposed to hurt.  It’s an ass-kicking!

This still cracks me up.

Ed and I find much to talk about after a movie, whether we liked it or not.  The conversation after this movie included these comments:

Me: I’m just not buying Megan Fox.  It’s a little easier now that they are supposed to be college age.  But I did NOT buy her as a senior in high school. 

Ed: But she was supposed to be every high school boy’s dream. 

Me: eye roll

We bat that one back and forth a few times.  Ed’s answer is always the same.

Me: How believable is Megan Fox as a high school senior/fresh graduate?

Ed: How believable is a truck that unfolds into an alien robot?

Okay, fair enough.

Action films are fun.  Yes, sometimes the treatment of women leaves me with a headache.  But action movies don’t have a corner on that market.

They aren’t trying to be literature – they’re escape.  And they do that very well on a summer afternoon.

 

listening to: The Pointer Sisters, I’m So Excited (that’s what Bumblebee plays when Sam talks about going to college)

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