Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reviews: Rollout!

Here are the answers to last week's quiz:

Who is the leader of the Decepticons?
Mumrah (Thundercats)
Skeletor (He-Man)
Starscream (2nd in Command)

The Constructicons combine to form what giant(er) robot?

Generally speaking, what can Decepticons do that Autobots can’t?

Which of the following are not one of Soundwave’s helpers?
Laserbeak (an eagle)
Ravage (a panther)
Rumble (a miniature robot)

Who doesn’t lend their voice to the Transformers movie?
Eric Idle
Mark Hamill (I hate Mark Hamill)
Leonard Nimoy
Orson Welles
Also Judd Nelson, the bully from the Breakfast Club, Casey Kasem and the Micromachines guy each do a voice. Little known facts.

Who is the leader of the Dinobots?

What was the American rip-off of Transformers?

What is Transformer food/fuel/currency/mammon?

What is the Transformers’ homeworld?

Who has the same voice as Starscream?
Cobra Commander (from GI Joe)
Hordack (from She-Ra)
Shredder (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

I suppose I should also give my review for the new movie. As with my Spiderman review, this is extremely biased. Seeing as Transformers is my favorite cartoon of the 80s, any movie containing Optimus Prime will automatically be great, regardless of the actual quality. Luckily this movie was as “good” as a movie featuring giant robots could be. It won’t get any Oscars (except for effects, which it deserves), but it was thoroughly entertaining.

Michael Bay and Spielberg did a good job balancing the original show with a modern, streamlined revival. Lots of elements from the cartoon make no sense from an adult view, and they did a good job of removing these parts while maintaining the spirit of the original. Yes the fanboys would prefer it if Megatron still turned into a gun, but it makes more sense for him to be a jet. In return for changing things they threw in a lot of inside jokes for fans of the original. I could easily see the film failing by changing it too much or not changing it enough, and they did a good job.

Obviously this movie requires a large suspension of disbelief. But if you’re watching it in the right context, it delivers in spades. There was a certain level of gravitas about the whole war, which served the story well. There was also a surprising amount of humor. This certainly wasn’t Knocked Up, but I laughed out loud several times through the movie. A lot of the humor was aimed at the under-10 crowd (I can see no other reason to include a robot urination scene) but it was balanced overall. The acting was nothing remarkable, but everyone was serviceable. I’ve liked LeBouf since Constantine, and this and Disturbia look to push him onto the center stage for the next decade or so.

As a Michael Bay movie, we expect some great action, and he delivers. What I didn’t expect was the quality of the effects. There weren’t that many “that looks so awesome” moments, but what impressed me was that there wasn’t a single “oh, look at that CG” moments. The movie looked believable throughout, which really is the point of CG. It’s not about spectacle, it’s about making imaginative stories possible. And this movie did that better than any in recent memory.

I saw the movie with another guy and two girls. The males had both nostalgia and an affinity for action/sci-fi skewing our view, but liked it a great deal. The girls were basically humoring us by going, but both ended up having a lot of fun. And that’s probably the best descriptor of the movie: it was fun. Try not to smile.

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