Monday, 23 June 2014

Transformers Marathon: Transformers (2007).First Contact

And now to the movies most fans would rather forget. The Michael Bay films, the purpose of this marathon. While the Bay films did bring in a new crowd of Transformers fans, they did lose a lot of the older fans who have been following the series since the beginning. As to what I think of them? It depends on the movie in question. Without wasting any more time, let’s start this miniseries of reviews with Transformers (2007).

Before the plot, its probably best to discuss the hype. Transformers was advertised years before it came out in cinemas. I remember seeing the posters for the movie in (I want to say 2005 but I could be wrong with that one) and the poster itself, to me at least, is the best example of something showing very little telling so much. The poster can be found here ( but there wasn't a release day on it when I first saw it and it was because of that poster, that I started following some movies actively. The development of the film seems to have had several phases of development, as originally it was supposed to be a G.I Joe movie (something I might get to some day...), but that was scraped after the invasion of Iraq in 2003(probably for the better). There was a point in time when the Matrix of Leadership was going to play a role in the story. The film was going to have a disaster movie style of story from the human's perspective (but I'll share my view on that one later this week...) with the transformers featured being Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Jazz, Prowl, Arcee, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Bumblebee, and the Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, Ravage, Laserbeak, Rumble, Skywarp and Shockwave (to my knowledge, only Prowl, Skywarp and Rumble are yet to appear in the movies but are a part of their continuity (Prowl's concept becoming Barricade in the final product of this movie). When Steven Spielberg became the executive producer of the movie, the focus became the "Boy and his car" plot that we got in the final product as it "conveyed themes of adulthood and responsibility, 'the things that a car represents in the United States'". The Transformers were going to be mute at this point in time if it wasn't for the fans of the franchise and there was going to be a fight in the Grand Canyon (something that I wouldn't mind seeing as it would be different compared to the Desert and City battlefields so far). I will admit, calling the project "Prime Directive" even if it was a fake working title, was a nice touch as it was the name of the first Transformers comic by Dreamwave (I haven't read these so another time maybe...).

Michael Bay was then brought on as the director, after having his mind changed thanks to Hasbro (I believe he phrased it as a "stupid toy movie" but the initial draft was scraped for being "too kiddie" and we got the military's side of the story increased to what it is now (with inspiration coming from the Joe's). Arcee was scrapped from the story at this point in the development along with a simultaneous strike made by the Decepticons around the globe. Transformers had a $150 million budget and grossed $709,709,780, but how was the movie itself?

There are four plots in this movie. The first one follows Captain Lennox and a small group of soldiers who survived a attack from Blackout (a Decepticon based off of Vortex for this movie and was a Micromaster in Generation 1. Blackout has appeared as Demolisher's Mini con in Armada and was a part of Bruticus Maximus in Energon, in case anyone was wondering...). Lennox's story has the most action in it as he is in three of the six fight sets in the movie. Maggie Madsen's story is the second half of Lennox's story as she is tasked with finding out who or what came up with the frequency that hacked into the American defence force's network in seconds, twice. It is in her part of the plot that you meet Glen Whitmann, who is the poster boy of racism in this movie, but trust me when I say, it gets worse. Sam Witwicky's (any Gen 1 fans here getting the resemblance?)  plot has the most on screen time, but nothing happens in most of it. The "boy and his car" concept made it through and as such, it occupies most of the movie. Shia LaBeouf plays Sam in all three films and his performance here is actually quite good and believable, its one of his better performances that I've seen (but I'm comparing it to the other Transformers films and Indiana Jones IV, so that's not saying much), him and Megan Fox (Mikaela Banes) is at its best here considering the script and the same applies to the connection with the parents (who are at their best here as well... giving you a lot of hope for the other films aren't I?). Aside from the Transformers, it is also Sector 7 that's introduced in Sam's portion of the plot, a secret government organisation that houses alien technology including the plot maguffen item in this film, the AllSpark and Megatron in the same building (Hoover Dam). Agent Simmons is a great character in this (in comparison with the other cast) and probably my favourite human character, even if his dialogue is... questionable at times...

And finally, the plot about the actual Transformers. During the war for Cybertron, the Autobots launch the Allspark into space with Megatron in pursuit, both the AllSpark and Megatron crash into the earth and are latter found by the founding members of Sector 7 thanks to the discovery made by Captain Archibald Witwicky. who was exploring theArctic circle, where they found Megatron (at least, it's never explained where they found the Allspark). The Hoover Dam is made to conceal the energy of the Allspark and it was thanks to "NBE1" (Megatron) that the modern era was possible (according to the plot). The Decepticons arrive on Earth (Starscream, Bonecrusher, Barricade, Frenzy, Blackout and Scorponok) and search for both Megatron and the Allspark. Bumblebee arrives on the planet to discover if it is actually here and then calls Optimus Prime (who once again, is voiced by Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus), Jazz, Ironhide and Ratchet. From there (this is missing several details) its a fight to reclaim the Allspark to either rebuild Cybertron or use the power of the AllSpark to turn all of earth's technology into an army to take over the universe (insert M Byson quote here).

The soundtrack for the film depends on the track in general, the vocal tracks are barely noticeable (and no, I'm not talking about Bumblebee's use of the radio) and are forgetful. I have the soundtrack for this on iTunes and most of the songs in general aren't great, the instrumentals by Steve Jablonsky is amazing. I love the orchestrated pieces in this film and they match the visuals perfectly, though I will admit, I'm a sucker for orchestral pieces like this in general so I might be biased here, see for yourself though. I'll also give praise to the cinematography in this. Michael Bay knows how to use a camera to its full effect as each of the shots are great. The use of "shaky camera" is contained and works well in comparison to other films who use this technique, the wide shots of the airbase while Blackout attacks, the camera pan around Optimus as he's transforming, it just looks amazing and a part of that is the sets. The Airbase, Hoover Dam, the city fight at the end of the film, they look good and make for some great scenes. However, I will say that a issue with them are some of the transformers. There were three times during the film when I knew that it was animatronic instead of animation and it looks bad as a result. I know that Frenzy when he's hiding in the (I want to say switchboard casing, though I could be wrong) on Airforce 1 is fake, I know that when he's chasing Sam its only half the body and when Baricade has the lights out that its just animatronics and as a result, it falls when comparing it to the animation when the transformers move and fight beautifully.

Overall, you have to turn your brain off with this one, but I maintain that its the best of the three and one of my personal favourite transformers films, second only to that of the 80's film. It sets up the Transformers story well as it does provide its own take on the lore, with a lot of inspiration from Generation 1. If you go into this evaluating the product, like I did this time, your going to have a awful time as there are a lot of issues with it, especially if your new to the franchise (a example being the build up for Megatron, which is nicely passed for people who are familiar with Optimus and Megatron's past, but rushed for people who have no idea who he is). But where do they take the Transformers in the next film, up next: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

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