Monday, July 16, 2007


The verdict: The first half hour almost hints at likeable characters, a story.. you know... stuff like that, but the admittedly impressive CGI soon takes over. This is not a good movie in disguise.

The rating: 5/10.

I have a confession to make: I went to see 'Armageddon' in the cinema. Please, please, contain your abuse, there were mitigating circumstances... ahem, ok, so it was a date, she wanted to see 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being', I wanted to see something else... so... we compromised and ended up seeing something neither of us wanted to watch... This is when I learned that a true compromise is a situation where both parties lose. Yes folks, with 'Armageddon', Michael Bay certainly taught me a life lesson.

When it came to the build-up to this movie, my brain may have attempted to remind me of my Michael Bay-related lesson, but I was busy with my fingers in my ears, metaphorically going 'la-la-la-la-laaa'. You see, there is definitely the potential for a really good 'Transformers' movie, if a hungry, talented young director, like a Christopher Nolan, a Len Wiseman or the Wachowski brothers (ten years ago) got their hands on it... instead (sigh), Hollywood gave the man who lost them a cool $100 million dollars with 'The Island' his chance for redemption. And the money men might just have made the right choice from their point of view, considering the business this movie has done. Only one week on release in the US, and its already turning a profit.. not bad for a $135 million dollar flick about toy robots.

So, is it actually any good? Well... to be honest, it's bad, but not 'Armageddon' bad. First, in case you missed it: 'Transformers' is a Michael Bay movie. To explain, 'Armageddon' was a movie where Liv Tyler's 'character' consisted mostly of wordlessly staring, yearning towards the sunset, with the American flag billowing in the wind behind her, while a crew of oil riggers, captained by her daddy (Bruce Willis, not that Aerosmith fella) attempted to save the earth from an oncoming meteor... you couldn't make it up, really. 'Armageddon' sucked in an offensive way, but happily, 'Transformers' isn't nearly that bad.

However, as with other Michael Bay movies, little time is wasted with stuff like character, motivation or (pshaw) conversations. Dialogue is first about setting up the initial explosion, then as a device to move characters from one explosion to the next. In terms of characters, if they can't be understood in one sentence, then they're likely to die rather quickly. We are introduced to Sam (Shia LaBoeuf) who wants a car and a girl and Michaela (Megan Fox) who is hot. That's all. Oh, and then there's Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) who just wants to finish his tour in the army and get back to his wife and kid, and the minister of Defence (Jon Voight) who needs to control this mess, and maybe leer a bit...

... ok, ok, so you don't watch 'Transformers' for the characters, I get it. Anyway, the two main leads are more than likeable, so, as long as the robots are cool and have cool fights where stuff gets trashed, who cares, right? Well, I'm happy to say the robots are certainly very well done. The special effects in this one are off the scale, really pushing things to another level. I would have a gripe about the leader of the baddies not being in it nearly enough though. He could have had an awful lot more to smash, given the opportunity.

The story though, is just silly, and possibly ripped off from an episode of the transformers kids cartoon (which was made by a toy manufacturer, incidentally). I've just forced myself to delete a sentence describing the storyline of the movie, for risk of spoilers, because it summed up the entire plot in about sixteen words. Two of those words were 'goodies' and 'baddies'.

Ok, so transformers is for kids then? Well, not quite. There is grown up humour in here, of the 'American Pie' variety, and the action is not light enough for young kids who might otherwise be watching 'Shrek the Third'. About forty five minutes of this movie is crammed with nonsensically fast-moving cameras zooming back and forth around giant robots, with human characters flitting about between their feet/wheels/other mechanical parts. The need for this comparitive scale makes many of the scenes featuring the robots quite difficult to follow. In particular, the last battle scenes are totally chaotic and very difficult for a 29-year-old codger like me to follow, my abnormally short attention span notwithstanding.

If it wasn't so silly and chaotic and two-dimensional, the robots might have saved it, but unfortunately, 'Transformers' just isn't a very good film. The action in 'Die Hard 4.0' was completely over the top, but it was packaged brilliantly. Michael Bay is more like a spoiled neighbour kid at Christmas. He's just got all these toys and, unsure which one to show us first, just shoves three of them in our faces, obscuring any clear view we might have otherwise had, and detracting from any potential sense of wonder. Shame really, but hey, don't worry, he'll probably have another shot, 'Transformers 2' can't be too far off.


Scott Ryan said...

i would rate this movie as 6/10

Tommy77 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tommy77 said...

"Not a good movie in disguise"...Gold Paddy, pure gold!!

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