Friday, July 06, 2007

More than meets the eye

If there is one thing about summer that I really enjoy it is the summer movies. At no other time in the year do you have such a choice of over the top action movies. And this year is filled with movies. So far the family has been to the movies more since the first of May than we have been all year long. Spiderman 3, Pirates 3, Ratatouille, Meet the Robinsons, and I know I missed something else. But the last one requires some relfection.

When the trailers were being shown, I knew I would have to go see Transformers. I was a huge Transformers fan back in the '80's. I had the comic books and toys. I watched the cartoon on t.v. I still think it was an awesome show. So when the movie came out, I knew I would have to see it.

I got Nick totally into seeing it. He had the opening date on his calender. So it was going to be a fun thing to share. We got to the theater at about 3:00 to see the 3:10 show. Sold out. And the line for the 3:45 show was already out the front door of the theater. So we got our tickets and got on line. When we got going inside we saw that it was going to be a packed theater. (I heard the lady at the ticket window say that they only had 25 seats for the 5:30 show.)

I will do my best not to ruin any surprises (but there aren't any real surprises). This movie isn't about plot twists and unexpected developments. This is about telling the story of the Transformers in a new medium.

If you don't know the story, here is the recap. The Transformers are an alien race of robotic beings. Their primary form is large human-type. But they can transform into vehicle shapes. Their race is divided between two philosophies: the benevolent and peace oriented Autobots on one side and the warmongering and resource draining Decepticons.

There is one object that the Transformers seek that can change the balance of power, the All Spark. It was lost into space and thus begins the cosmic search. It, of course, leads the Transformers to Earth.

In the course of the story a teenage boy becomes the crucial figure in this cosmic search. Sam Witwicky (played by the rising star Shia LeBeouf) wants nothing more than to get a car and a girl, in that order. But his car is more than he expects. And the story takes off from there.

This movie is designed for two groups of people: sci-fi, special effect addicted teenagers and Gen-X nostalgia hounds who loved the Transformers from the beginning. And this movie does not disappoint either. It is loaded with special effects. How could it not when some of the main characters are 30 foot high robots who change into vehicles.

And speaking of the vehicles, GMC/Chevrolet paid a pretty hefty sum for this movie. Every one of the Autobots is a Chevy made vehicle. But everyone of them is sharp looking. It made me glad we just bought a Chevy Avalanche.

But the effects are outstanding. The 'bots transform with smooth and flowing movements. The way they look is "realistic" and not cartoony. If you enjoy special effects, this is a great movie for them. In fact they are a little overdone.

The story is very cartoony. This is not high literature. This is pure sci-fi taken from the comics. If you are aware of that before going in, you will be ready to enjoy it. If you are expecting some deep philosophical or meaningful answers, this isn't it. So don't go in looking for it.

I was expecting a revisioning of the Transformers story. I figured we would be treated to some campy, silly just-for-funsies approach (Starsky and Hutch). But this movie was faithful to the original characters and approach. This was the story of a war between two sides with humanity in the middle. Other than the cartoony storyline and supporting characters, this was a great movie.

This movie kicked into overdrive when an Autobot and a Decepticon appeared on screen together for the first time. Watching them on that screen sent shivers through me. And then hearing Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, utter his famous line, "Autobots, roll out." This movie took treasured childhood characters and made them that much better.

This was an awesome movie. I loved ever minute of it. I walked out of that movie wanting to go back in and see it again. If you do not like science fiction or comic book heroes, then go see something else. But if you can suspend your need for reality then go see this movie.