I refused to go see Transformers when it first came out. I just couldn’t see the point. A movie based on toys? That was a stretch, even for Hollywood.
To my mind, this is a completely different thing from movies based on comic books: comics have a rich history of detailed storytelling, filled with backstory and archetypes and characters with mixed motivations.
But toys? I just couldn’t get there.
So, when the first Transformers movie came out, Ed took Kristina: they were both eager to see it, and they both enjoyed it. That year, Kristina gave Ed a Transformer car for Christmas, and it was an inside story for them to share.
I was fine with that.
As the recent string of movies based on comic books have come out, we’ve seen and enjoyed them together: Batman Begins, Dark Knight, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, the X-Men franchise, and more.
(Clearly I have a Stan Lee bias – what can I say?)
What do they preview before these movies? Similar movies, of course. I’ve seen quite a few previews for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Enough to think that maybe the first movie was worth a look. Before making a decision on whether to see the second.
So we saw it. And I had a good time.
Was it a mile-a-minute visual extravaganza, almost exhausting in how every frame is filled to the brim with action? Yes. It’s a Michael Bay flick. Were the female characters two-dimensional stereotypes? Yes, again. See above, Michael Bay.
But I didn’t watch it to have my intellect stimulated. It is not a film. It is not theatre. It is a Hollywood movie, a specific genre called the summer blockbuster. It succeeds at being diverting. It was funny, action-driven, adventurous escape.
I enjoy a wide range of movie and film styles, including intellectual foreign films, epic period pieces, and smart political/spy thrillers. And sometimes, action-adventure movies of questionable depth.
The better ones, of course, do offer some depth and cultural commentary, with witty dialogue well-delivered by talented actors. Those are not the norm, I understand, but they do exist.
After seeing the first Transformers installment on video, I was excited to see the current release in the theatre. The critics panned the movie, nearly universally – even those who had liked the first movie. But I wanted to make my own decision.
Besides, I wanted to see Bumblebee again. Oh how I love me a high-performance retro muscle car. Especially one that talks through song lyrics and movie quotes. Go, Bee!
A good (?!) part of the afternoon before we went to see the movie was spent in serious conversation about the teenager and her future. I needed a near-total change of scene. Transformers 2 gave me that.
My take: the movie is fun.
It succeeds at being diverting and entertaining. The plot is super-model thin, the character development is bus-ticket thin, but that’s okay. I didn’t expect more. I laughed at the jokes, I winced at some of the more bone-headed moves, and I knew the good guys would win in the end.
One of my very favourite quotes:
That hurt man!
It’s supposed to hurt. It’s an ass-kicking!
This still cracks me up.
Ed and I find much to talk about after a movie, whether we liked it or not. The conversation after this movie included these comments:
Me: I’m just not buying Megan Fox. It’s a little easier now that they are supposed to be college age. But I did NOT buy her as a senior in high school.
Ed: But she was supposed to be every high school boy’s dream.
Me: eye roll
We bat that one back and forth a few times. Ed’s answer is always the same.
Me: How believable is Megan Fox as a high school senior/fresh graduate?
Ed: How believable is a truck that unfolds into an alien robot?
Okay, fair enough.
Action films are fun. Yes, sometimes the treatment of women leaves me with a headache. But action movies don’t have a corner on that market.
They aren’t trying to be literature – they’re escape. And they do that very well on a summer afternoon.
listening to: The Pointer Sisters, I’m So Excited (that’s what Bumblebee plays when Sam talks about going to college)