Transformers – 2007

Today I got together with James and Willmon to watch Transfomers and to get together for old times sake.  Although it was on short notice, we were able to get together to watch Transfomers earlier tonight.

Overall, the movie was very straightfoward with the Autobots fighting Decepticons in present-day America.  It was interesting to see the actor playing Fernando Sucre from “Prison Break”  as part of the military special ops team in charge of fighting the Decepticons in the first half of the film before he was killed off.   Some other surprises were the film’s use of popular lines from the Original Series and Movie such as “Autobots, roll out” and the infamous “One shall stand, one shall fall” line from the 1986 movie.

James wasn’t expecting too much since he was not a strong fan of the original series like Willmon, but they both felt it was a fun and entertaining action movie with amazing visual effects.  There was also blatant product placement throughout the film with HP laptops, references to eBay and Yahoo, Panasonic SD cards, Mountain Dew transformers, an Xbox360 transformers, action sequences showing the Citigroup, Deloitte and KPMG buildings in Los Angeles, and most of all having the main characters transform from GM cars.  I am sure the producers were able to save a great deal of money from these product placement deals, but it did raise some questions about how the sequel is going to be handled with such restrictive exclusives from General Motors.

Some noticeable changes in transformers are that Ironhide is now a GMC pickup truck instead of a Nissan, Ratchet is now a Hummer H2.  On the other hand, they had Bumblebee transform into a Chevy Camaro instead of a Volkswagen Beetle at the expense of Jazz; who is now reduced to just a dinky Pontiac Solstice instead of a Porsche 911.  It was one thing to neuter Jazz by reducing him a quirky roadster, but having him die an easy death by being easily ripped apart by Megatron is taking it too far.

However, the only redeeming factor is that they had the character voiced by a Black actor just like the original, except in the film he was voiced by the guy who played Eddie Winslow from “Family Matters”.  I am sure many fans are still flipping out at the fact Optimus Prime has lips, but they did that in the later TV shows and this problem can be overlooked since the original voice actor is still voicing the character.  Besides, it was Michael Bay’s grand idea to give Optimus Prime lips much to the dismay of the movie’s producers.
Most of the transformations worked quite well for the Decepticons.  Devastator was an M1 Abrams tank, Starscream is an F-22, while Megatron is a demonic-looking alien jet.  It was unfortunate that Frank Welker could not voice Megatron, but Hugo Weaving did an ok job voicing Megatron.

General Motors really ruined the movie by creating restrictive placement deals that only allows for their cars to be used in any future Transformers films.  To be honest I really don’t want to be see Hound reduced to a Hummer H1, Prowl turned into a Saturn Aura, Wheeljack into a Saturn Sky, Cliffjumper as a Chevy Cobalt, Sideswipe into a Pontiac G6, Suntreaker into a Pontiac G8, though I would like to see Tracks as a Corvette and Mirage as a Cadillac Cien (if possible).  I think restricting the Autobots into mostly General Motors vehicles really disrupted the creative process and undermined the connection to the original series.

It was also subtle how they based George Bush by portraying him in jest as just a lazy President who has poor taste in ding-dong cakes.   Much of the movie shows the Defence Secretary, played by John Voight, in charge of the situation and keeping people from panicking.  The ending was a bit lacking since it was nearly impossible for the US government to cover-up a destructive rampage caused by a race of giant killer robots that ravaged much of the LA freeway and downtown LA itself.

After the movie, James, Willmon and I hung out at New Brunswick and discussed old times, social issues, China and the stock market.  Good times indeed.

Overall, the movie is recommended for anyone who was a fan of the original series or for those who are looking for a guilty pleasure that involve watching lifelike giant robots duking it out in present-day Los Angeles.

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