‘Transformers’: More than Meets the Eye (or perhaps not)

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April 6, 2013 by Hope W.


Whilst waiting in line for the Transformers ride at Universal Studios Singapore yesterday, I was hit by an urge to revisit the movie after listening to the soundtrack play over and over in the 35-minute long queue.

And so here is the start of a series which I shall call “Defending My Favourite Movies, Even If Others Think They are Crap”. Because Transformers *is* one of my favourite movies ever. (Really.) Here’s why:

  1. The score is majestic, soaring, and has the gravitas to carry off a movie about saving the Earth. I love movies with patriotic scores like that. (Which is why I also loved Armageddon.)
  2. The military shots of pilots running to their fighter jets, fighter jets taking off and zooming around purposefully, aircraft carriers heading towards war imposingly etc. were inspiring, filled me with a sense of pride (and that is something, considering I am not even American), and make for great military recruitment ads. Josh Duhamel, as the captain of the band of survivors, is also really hot.
  3. I love the Autobots. I mean: look, they are robots that transform into cool cars! How can you not like them?

Michael Bay made one heck of a car commercial. I don’t know a single person who didn’t want a “Bumblebee” Camaro after watching the film. In the behind-the-scenes extras, one of the filmmakers said that General Motors sponsored the film, and was the most cooperative they had ever been on the films he worked with them on. Yep, because they are getting a 144-minute car commercial that is probably way more effective than any 2-minute commercial they could have paid for themselves, so why not? Best advertising bargain ever.

Yes, it was silly, especially Shia’s annoying, fast-talking, jittery lead character, and his ridiculous parents. The action is such a blur that sometimes I have no idea what’s happening. The lines are cheesy. The music editing is strange and abrupt at times. The plot made sense on a surface level, as long as you didn’t question why the US Department of Defense hired analysts who were Australian, people like John Turturro’s weird character to oversee top secret government agencies, or other things like that.

But you’ve got to admire the visual effects wizardry of the transforming robots. (Still amazed every time I watch it.) The sheer bombast and effort that goes into making a blockbuster like this, mostly, the keeping track of *everything* — getting all the shots from different angles, making sure your scenes shot in different places all look like the same place, your explosions go off how you want them, etc.

And above all, I was entertained. (Which is all I really ask for when I go to the movies, as long as they don’t cross the line into stupidity like the spoof movies do.) Perhaps only on a surface level, perhaps I didn’t have to think much; but I’m content to leave the thinking for films that want to be thought about, which this one clearly doesn’t.


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