Review: "Transformers"

I can’t wait to talk about the ‘Transformers’ movie which I saw last Sunday, I’ll skip Saturday and go right to Sunday!!!


Woke up early on 1st of July, rubbed my eyes and checked my phone calendar to confirm the day: yes, it is today, the 1st of July, the day I’ll witness the cinematic marvel that’s the ‘Transformers’ movie which I have been expecting with bated breath since the very first moment I laid my naked eyes on the first few clips of the movie which filtered through the internet many, many months ago (*deep intake of breath*). I rigorously calculated the time I needed to take my shower, change and pick up friends to ‘1U’ so that I do not miss a single moment, not even a single advertisement, for the sake that I can tell myself that I have gone through the cinematic event of the decade in a full and complete experience. The movie was at 12pm, my time still in bed is 9am. 3 hours to lunch, time is precious. I rushed through the chores of preparation and at 11:30am, the tickets which I bought online where already in my hands. I checked and re-checked and checked again, the details on the tickets stub were indeed accurate. Fate is at hand I thought, and destiny comes full circle as not since the days of the 80’s when I watched countless re-run of the cartoon on the VCR have I been so excited and ecstatic about anything. Almost 20 years later, those moments are back again. Thrilled and over-whelmed, I rushed in to give my ticket so that I can be allowed in earlier. From the rushing I left my friends outside and I jumped the queue which pissed off a few people. Screw morals and screw you, its time to leave all troubles and worries at the door and enter into a realm of robotic fantasy, served in full ‘Bayhem’ style and with a little dash of Spielberg magic. Needless to say, the awakening of the kid in me was nigh once more…

For the next 2 hours or more, I have to say it was the best movie I have ever experienced in my life. Why? From a general point of view, it was a fantastic summer blockbuster movie, not much more. But from a personal point of view, no movie has ever made me feel as delighted and thrilled as this. This movie achieved and exceeded all my expectations as a kid and as a grown-up, and ‘Transformers’ have effectively tattooed its presence in my consciousness and in my heart for many, many decades to come. Why this movie succeeded and other failed (Star Wars Episodes I, II and III for example) is that the ‘Transformers’ had successfully brought back the feelings of wonder and spectacle of those days of childhood and for that 2 hours or more inside the cinema that day, I was not seeing the world through the eyes of a grown-up, but as a kid of the 80’s. All life troubles and tribulations slipped away, and the worry-free days of childhood took its presence once more, days of being wide-eyed with wonder and innocent with stories of good vs. evil. No movie has successfully transformed me to those days before. ‘Star Wars Episode 1’ was a shameful attempt, ‘Superman Returns’ never even attempted and ‘Batman Begins’ was very close, but not yet there. ‘Transformers’ was not perfect, but it achieved what it needed to be done to bring back the feeling of wonder and awe, and it will be thoroughly remembered for what it did to me in this phase of my life as how the cartoon did for me in my days of childhood.

But that’s my adult in me talking. What about the inner child that was awoken from its sweet slumber for so many dormant years? Here’s what he has to say:

AWESOME. SWEET GLORIOUS JESUS, IT WAS FREAKIN’ AWESOME. It was way waaaaaaaay cooler than anything I’ve seen, not since ‘Jurassic Park’ has I gone ape-shit crazy over a movie as this. The movie was loud, the movie was filled with kick-ass special effects and every damn thing is moving at 200 mph, blink and you’ll miss a cool scene. So don’t freakin’ blink. And don’t even think of going to the toilet during this movie, ‘cause I think you only have 2 gaps of boring dialogue for you to run like hell to the washroom. And if you can’t run, piss in your pants ‘cause it’ll be worth it. Tanks, cars, planes, buildings, all crash and burn like useless cheap scraps of metal as giant freakin’ robots tear at each other and lay waste to massive destruction all around them. Never has anyone seen shit like this until you have seen shit like this. Period. Your jaw will drop, your tongue will roll (at Megan Fox) and your jaw will drop a few notches some more at robots and more robots wreck each other like there’s no tomorrow. After the movie I was so pumped up over this shit that whenever I hear someone say ‘Transformers’, I went giggling like a freakin’ school girl. Every food tasted better, everyone seemed friendlier and every memory of that movie seemed so much sweeter. And that’s the magic of the movies.

Well…that was fun. Anyway, as mentioned earlier, the movie’s great, but not perfect. Here’s a rundown of what I thought:


1.) Special Effects - One word - OMIGOD. The company appointed for the effects, ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) again proved themselves to be the masters of digital wizardry as the bar for special effect standards has been raised yet again. Only a few months ago that ILM astonished us with ‘Pirates 3’ and now ‘Transformers’ can be permanently regarded as the benchmark for future movies to refer to for digital excellence. I read that when at any time a full frontal Transformer transforms, almost 1,000 parts need to be animated per frame as there are so many moving parts. I just can’t imagine the time and effort it took to bring sequences of transforming to life. Pure craftsmanship. Comparing movies that have strong presence in special-effects, i.e. Star Wars, Pirates and Spider-Man, I believe that these movies did not manage to bring a sense of awe and did not transmit a ‘wow’ factor to the viewer. As these movies unfold, the special effects slowly become mundane and looked more and more just like some nicely rendered wallpapers. But for ‘Transformers’, every time you see an Autobot or Decepticon on screen, it never fails to amaze and astound you. IT IS THAT GOOD. From the very first scene of Blackout attacking the American base in Qatar, to Starscream’s airbourne battle sequence with a squadron F-22, to the all-out skirmish of robots in the city and everything else in between, every frame and every second is a beauty of masterful digital artwork. If only I can press a slow-motion button to admire things frame-by-frame in the cinema…if only. The scene that captured the essence of ‘Transformers’ was right at the beginning of the movie when Blackout attacked the American base in Qatar for re-con purposes. With Blackout giving hell on the base, one scene showed Blackout from afar, tall above the landscape, and it was unleashing hails of rockets with smoke trails leading to massive explosions all around it. Its torso was turning from left to right, its legs moving forward in search of death and its arms and body was bombarding everything around him with rockets and EMP pulses. This scene showed the viewer what the ‘Transformers’ really are: they are here on Earth and it is larger than any life on Earth. I believe this scene is important, especially when it was shown at the very beginning as it helped to set the tone of the movie and it gave preparation to the viewer of what is in store for the later parts of the movie. Witnessing this scene right before my very eyes, it set my imagination wild on fire, set my addreline pumping and all those goose-bumps running all over me.

2.) Autobots - Fortunately, they managed to bring back Optimus Prime close to the original. From the voice (same guy that did the cartoons, Mr. Peter Cullen) to the dialogue (“Autobots, roll out!!”) to the characterization (leader, brave, and bold), he is an Autobot trough and trough. Bumblebee a.k.a. Yellow Satan Camaro is my favorite, in fact everyone’s favorite, and provided the bridge that helped connect the viewer with the Autobots emotionally. He has a strong presence on screen and provided plenty of things for the viewer to be fond of and be emotionally attached with. From his painful capture by Sector 7, his excruciating injuries in combat and his humorous endeavors with the humans (“Bumblebee, stop lubricating on that human!!”) Bumblebee will be remembered and loved for all the best reasons. Although I was a little troubled with the rest, such as Ratchet, Jazz, Ironhide, etc which has little connection to the original (probably due to the little screen time they had), but once you see them as a group, the teamwork and get-togethers (i.e. outside Sam’s home), they are a joy to watch and they gel effortlessly. Overall, the Autobots rocked.

3.) Shia Lebouef - Shia was good, played the kid role very well, very convincing and very humorous. What a year for this guy, I mean, he is already cast in the next ‘Indy 4’ movie, starred in a major role in the superb movie called ‘Disturbia’ and had a major voicing role in ‘Surf’s Up’. I mean, can anything be better than the year he is having now? This guy’s going to be a major movie star, unless he screws his life up (like Britney and the clones). Hat’s off to you, Shia. Oh and by the way, he is the guy from the TV series called ‘Boy Meets World’. Now you know why he looked so familiar.

4.) Megan Fox - She played her part well as the chick Shia has the hots for. Megan Fox is, well, a fox and I can’t complain. All I can say is that she can change my engine oils any day. I think she doesn’t overdo the posing, unlike the other Michael Bay chicks, and do not over-do the acting, which is a breath of fresh air. Her on-screen time is just right and that made her bearable to watch and to a certain extent, care for. I only wonder if she can check my piston under my trunk, ‘cause I think it needs some lubricating… Meg-megan? Where you going….?

5.) Humor - Although some jokes are really unnecessary and lame, i.e. the Sector 7 officer, which I wish they did not put him in at all, the rest of the humor actually was funny and it worked well to lift the movie from becoming a tedious 2 hour non-stop-action feast. The gaps of humor in between action scenes were well done and it provided many opportunities for the viewer to gel with the Autobots and characters. For example, if Bumblebee did not ‘lubricate’ on the lame-o Sector 7 guy, I would not have liked Bumblebee that much. I know some of you guys hated that scene, I know that scene is wrong, but for me, I call it Robo-humor and I like it.

6.) Massive Destruction – When you put big robots in a city with big buildings, you will get big carnage. But when you put big robots in a city with Michael Bay directing, you don’t get just carnage, you will get major mayhem with a major dose of Bay-ism bedlam, which I call ‘BAYHEM’. Yes, no one does explosions as beautifully as Michael Bay and no one does action as grand as Bay himself. Especially in the last 30 minutes of the movie, you will experience action pieces that only lived in the fantasy world of imagination and being brought to life by Bay and Spielberg, it will take your every breath away…

The Bad

1.) The Decepticons – I was disappointed that they are not as prominent as the Autobots in the movie, as in they wasn’t given proper characterization and wasn’t given proper chances to build an emotional connection with the viewer. I mean, they are there just to be bad guys and are there for the Autobots to trash up, nothing more. Starscream could have been so much more, considering that in the cartoons he is a very major character in the ‘Transformers’ universe. At least he spoke, as in just one line, but for the rest of the Decepticons they were just given subtitles (“Devastator, rolling out”). The bane of all disappointments with the Decepticons is with no doubt Megatron. I mean, he is completely different from the cartoons, from the design to the voice. If Optimus Prime can have an original voice, then why can’t Megatron get a voice that at least resembles the original? And why in God’s sake is he an X-Wing from Star Wars? Fine, there may be problems being a gun like from the original cartoon, but why can’t he be a bad-ass canon, i.e. like those from warships and he can shoot down the Autobots from a far distance for example. Wouldn’t that be cooler than an X-Wing?? They should have at least given him some kind of resemblance to the original; at least have his arm mounted with a gun. But he has it only for a one scene in the movie I think, which is disappointing. I see Bumblebee’s arm with a gun more often than Megatron. Why Michael Bay, WHY?? You screw up Megatron dammit!!! Other than Megatron, Frenzy the data infiltrator, in my opinion is the Jar Jar Binks of the ‘Transformers’ and could have been done much better.

2.) Transforming Sound Effects –
The sound of the robots transforming is a signature of the ‘Transformers’ and it is prominently missing from the movie. I hated that. NYUK NYUK NYUK NYUK NYUK!!! That’s the sound that made the cartoon so unique and memorable. But in the movie, all we usually hear is crunching metal against metal whenever the robots transform and it somehow gave a different feel, somehow made the conversion from cartoon to movie incomplete. We only hear it once in the movie and it was just a small and nearly inaudible hum against the more blaring metal-against-metal noise. I heard that particular sound had been licensed and the owner is charging unimaginable money for Michael Bay to use it, i.e. every time that sound is used in the movie, they need to pay one sum. So, if the movies used it 10 times, Michael Bay will need to pay 10 times of that sum. Crazy shit, huh. But anyway, If only that sound comes with every transformation, this movie would have been perfect…

3.) The Storyline –
If you think for one minute that you bought tickets to ‘Transformers’ to enjoy the storyline, you are absolutely freakin’ mad. The story is paper thin, and it only serves as a guide for us to get from one action set piece to another. It is an excuse for Michael Bay to blow things up with bigger, badder and harder explosions than any explosions you have ever seen before. No complexities, no major plotlines, only good carnage whipped in Michael Bay style. Don’t be deluded, enter the cinema with your brain at the door, and enter the cinema with full amounts of geekiness and kiddiness and the ‘Transformers’ will overwhelm you in full disbelieving vigor.

As for me, I’ve already booked my tickets for Round 2 and already planning for Round 3. There will also be Round 4, should be a Round 5 and perhaps a Round 6. Also maybe a Round 7 and if that happens, possibly a Round 8 and wrap-up at Round 9 before I begin my assault on the DVD. But before the DVD viewings, a Round 10 will be good as a warm-up…Yes, if you haven’t guessed it by now, I love this movie.
Verdict: 10 / 10

After the Movie:

After the movie, we went to ‘HakkaKaya’ to enjoy some Kopitiam cuisine (if you can call that food cuisine that is). The stuff is pretty average, but the roti kaya seemed good to me, small in size though but tastes good, most probably due to the kaya. But anyway, we chit-chatted about the ‘Transformers’ movie and also on what to eat for dinner. Seems like everyone had no idea, so I suggested we go to Damansara Perdana to search for a ‘Friendster Café’ which I heard it exists in that area. ‘Friendster Café??? My friends screamed and they had their doubts of this place. I mean, what a lame-o name for a café. Then I replied, if we didn’t check it out, how would we really know? So, off we went to the ‘Friendster Café’!!!

Looking around the café, I found that the décor was alright, the service is ok but the food is surprisingly good. I mean, not fantastic but good for a café. The price however is a bit on the up side, so just be careful what you order!! They serve the usual western Pastas and steaks, but the Asian dishes caught my eye as the ‘Nasi Kerabu’ I had was unexpectedly delicious. Friends ordered the Pastas and Chicken Chops which were good as well.

So what does the place have in common with the Friendster website? Absolutely nothing. So, don’t expect anything in relations to the Friendster website except for the possibility of the place being a strategic meeting joint for Friendster friends and connections. Anyway, it’s a fun place to hang out and has a good vibe to it so I guess I have to recommend it to anyone that likes a café atmosphere with a unique twist to their regular cups of java.

We went back around 9pm, reached home and I crashed into la-la land with robotic wet dreams that accompanied me ‘til the next morning….

Me and an uncle with a full stomach wakaka....

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