It was raining. The boys wanted to see a film.
Don’t you just love it when you read a review of a movie that’s done by someone more familiar with the genre and franchise than any normal person would be? No fear that this will happen here.
The first Transformers film was great – the way the Autobots came to earth and had been lying dormant here for many years was fully explained, and the effects were fabulous. All in all, a good older kid film that the mum accompanying them (aka paying for the tickets) could enjoy. The second film in the series saw Megan Fox’s lips and butt fill the camera lens a little too much, as well as Aussie Isabel Lucas as a bad ‘guy’ – all with no real point. I think the director believed that the dads would be bringing the kids – well, they kind of did after seeing the trailer with Megan Fox washing a car. Ahem.
The third film begins with promise – there are nice ties between historical events about America’s race to the moon and the premise of the movie. But as soon as the title of the film hits the screen (after the lengthy preamble), all rationale goes out the window as the camera focuses directly on the butt of Megan Fox’s replacement love interest for Shia Lebouf as she climbs the stairs in her underpants. Suddenly my 13 year old began paying intense attention. Sigh.
A synopsis of the film is that Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) needs anger management counseling. He’s an angry person (little entitled snot) with a real lack of respect for authority, and he acts poorly. Sorry, but the guy lacks muscle and age, and keeps throwing himself into creating a kind of character that his body and face just doesn’t support. He lacks charm in this film. Harrison Ford, the master of being a fallible, charming hero, he is not. What a shame he didn’t learn anything from Mr Ford, even after working directly with him on the last Raiders movie.
The love interest, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), makes up for her lack of acting ability with her overdose of legs, lips and hair. She plays the entire film racing about in impossibly high heels and tiny clothing, squealing – while apparently being a fabulous business woman which we see no evidence of.
Dylan (Patrick Dempsey) is great, authentic and very believable in his role as the suave car racing dude with millions to spare. Not much of a stretch for McDreamy, actually. But the real issue is that John Malkovich’s strong portrayal of Bruce Brazos and Ken Jeong’s strangely complex character, Jerry Wang, both slam onto the screen with promise, yet fade away with whimpers. In Brazos’s case especially it is a most unsatisfying disappearance act. I expect him to appear in further Transformers films. No doubt there will be more.
The special effects are great – even for this mum who eventually lost track completely of which Transformers other than Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee were the good guys and which were the bad guys. Lots of crunching metal, blown up buildings (sorry Chicago), and near misses. There are great performances by the crack military team accompanying the angry Witwicky, especially Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Eddie (Lester Speight) who is more recently known for his comedic role in My Wife and Kids.
Missed opportunities continue with Sam’s parents appearing only briefly. Oh, and someone should let the producers know that blanking out the F word doesn’t delete the understanding that it’s there. In one instance Sam uses it, and it’s blanked out – but I read lips. In another, someone describes a situation as a “clusterf” – yep, stopping at that point doesn’t delete the word. Oh, and I counted about four or five uses of “shit” which, depending on your sensitivity, might also be important. I wonder when the time came that we began to accept pretty coarse language in kids films. (Oh, and don’t battle me on the movie being a kids film – I visited the toys section of the local department store. All the Transformers toys feature a boy around 10 years old on the box.)
Charlie (11 years old) thought the movie was fantastic and gave it 10 out of 10. Forest (13 years old) thought the movie’s music was better than the movie and he outlined a number of searing flaws in the plot, but he had a fondness for the female lead (sigh). He gave the movie a shocking 0.5 out of 10.
As for my score? I paid the $46 (yes, $46!) for the three of us to go to the cinema to see the film in 3D. I think the plot was too complex and somewhat ridiculous, but it was made up for by the special effects which were fabulous. Just when you get sick of crunching metal the whole thing is over. I did enjoy the film, but would just request one deletion: The female lead. In fact, just replace her with more of the mother. That would be good. She’s kick ass. I’m giving the film a 6 out of 10. I wouldn’t see it twice, but once is a good way of keeping kids happy on a rainy afternoon this season.