Thursday, July 05, 2007




So I guess you could say I'm not necessarily an 'action movie' fan. I mean, I do LIKE action movies sometimes but they definitely aren't my favorite genre and there has to be more to them than big explosions or they completely lose my interest. It's important to know that so that you know where I'm coming from with this review.

Michael Bay's translation of one of my favorite 80's cartoons (and toys) to the big screen is an action movie in the ABSOLUTE sense of the word. It is a full-on, no holds-barred attack on the senses and because of this, could have been an absolute mess. But happily for me, it's not. It's actually a real success and like the rest of his movies, as entertaining (and fulfulling) as a fireworks display...I know, fitting isnt it? In other words, it's a blast while it lasts, you'd gladly go through it again, but it doesnt necessarily make you 'think' or stay with you afterwards. And that's not always a bad thing, you know?

The real secret to the movie's success is NOT the incredible special effects (probably some of the best I've EVER seen and sure to set the bar for future movies of this genre ), the intense action sequences, or the almost gut-wrenchingly vulgar ammount of money that must have been spent to achieve the look of the thing-but it lies in one simple little factor...a great lead. Shia Labeouf is an instantly appealing leading man with an excellent grasp on the character he portrays and a superb comic ability. He is somehow able to stand out, even when surrounded by 20 foot alien robots and gargantuan explosions. Sure, alot of this is due to the somewhat clever (and many times very funny) dialogue and stalwart supporting cast, but mostly it's just his own little achievement. I enjoyed watching him freak out for the whole 2 and half hours...and I think that's a pretty big deal. So three cheers for Shia and yes, now I'm excited for the new Indiana Jones flick!

So are the robots good enough? They're BETTER than good enough...they're phenomenal. I'll admit I was a little sad when Shia's character passed up the little yellow volkswagon bug at the car lot (the original concept of Bumblebee, I might add) for the crappy looking old Camaro but once that thing started working it's magic-running off on its own a la 'Herbie', 'speaking' through the radio, and finally transforming into quite a fantastic looking creature-I forgot all about that. Optimus Prime was perfect-loved the choice of Peter Cullan as his voice-and every bit as loveable as the simply drawn cartoon character I remember. My favorite part of the movie (besides the funny human segments with Shia and his family) was when the 'autobots' made their first appearance and the subsequent contact with Sam. That whole 15-20 minutes was vastly entertaining. I also loved when Bumblebee regained his voice at the end and sounded alot like the car from "Knight Rider' ('Cool', I said to Jonathan, 'He's gonna have his own 'Kit')! The 'awakening' of Megatron was also amazingly well done and the attack during the opening sequence was sufficiently spine-tingling. I was pleased to see that Bay tried to give the autobots more 'personality' so as to make us 'feel' for them but didnt have to use up too much screen time in the process. The Decepticons, on the other hand, were awesome looking but not given much 'conversation' time.

Stuff I didnt like: Not a whole lot, really. The last thirty minutes or so eventually began to wear me very thin (like all of Bay's movies) as the action took first place in the story and became this constant onslaught of spastic camera angles, noise, and movement that , to me, was very 'one note' and (dare I say it?) boring. The story was thin, as we all knew it would be, but that doesnt make for any real problems in an action movie. The sudden attempt (during the above-mentioned final battle) to move the audience to some type of emotional trauma w/ the injury of a lead robot was a little obnoxious as well...PLEASE don't try so hard to make me sad about the broken legs of a 15 foot robot when a whole city has just been basically levelled. I am much too tired for such things. And WHY, pray tell, must we throw 'potty' humor into the mix ...especially among creatures that do not even have the anatomy that calls for it? Yeah, I rolled my eyes a couple of times.

Supporting players were not given alot to do in this one. But Anthony Anderson supplied some pretty darn brilliant comic relief nevertheless and John Turturro took a surprising turn as the smarmy 'special agent' guy. I enjoy seeing him in something less 'quirky' than usual. Bernie Mac has a hilarious cameo. Megan Fox was our resident eye-candy and didnt supply much more than a pretty (albeit REALLY thin) physique and straight teeth. (Hubby and I both thought the blonde Australian chick was way better-looking...but she really didnt have much of a point either.) Jon Voight was completely forgettable. Shia's parents, on the other hand, were both great...I love that his father was played by the 'crying friend' from Seinfeld and both of us were impressed by the actress that played Sam's mom.

So again, Bay has a big hit on his hands...probably his biggest ever. Like 'Armageddon', he's got funny moments mixed with major jaw-dropping action and a really good lead performance that will keep audiences coming back. Unlike 'The Island', he didnt over-complicate a proclaimed 'action movie' with a deep science fiction story that most of his fans wouldnt get. And like 'Pearl Harbor' , the whole flick was replete with enough sweat-misted hero-types from the evidently infallible United States Military to satisfy even the most patriotic July 4th movie-goer.

I have to admit, I see the draw of this guy's films and though I'm never going to stick him up there with Peter Wier or Frank Capra in the ranks of great directors, he does his job. With flavah...;)

My rating: 8/10