Strange Brouhaha

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Mr. Bob A. Fett and I hit the multiplex this weekend to see the new Transformers movie Neither of us, it turns out, is a particularly freakish fan of the old cartoon series, but we both like Michael Bay. Bay gets an unfair rap on the Internets, most of it from people who Do Not Understand Movies.

Michael Bay, in my opinion, is an incredible visual artist. His movies always look incredible; he knows exactly what to do with fast cars, pretty girls, and explosions. Special effects are a second language for him, and... well, look, you just cannot point to a Michael Bay movie that looks bad. He can evoke pretty much any emotion with just a few feet of film. I will go out on a limb here and say that he is the best action director working today.

On that basis, Transformers is a great movie. The robots do not look like effects. They look like real damn robots, pounding the crap out of each other. The action sequences are a must-see for any fan of action films. Yes: Optimus Prime kicks some serious ass.

The problem with this movie is in the script. It's pretty dull, serving mostly as a framework on which to hang those incredible effects sequences. It also doesn't know if it wants to be serious or funny, and as a result there are either too many or too few jokes. It really, really needed to be a straight-up military action movie OR a grownup version of one of the cartoon episodes. Instead, it was a mildly confusing mush of a story.

But oh, those robots. This will be reference-quality sound and video for your high definition home theater setup.

The solution for the "Michael Bay Problem," such as it is, is to team him up with early -90s Keanu Reeves. Reeves has this incredible physical grace that is ruined every time he opens his mouth. Michael Bay makes incredible visual art that starts going flat when people open their mouths. Together, I bet they could make a sweet wordless movie.

Bottom line: well worth the price of admission, for the action sequences. Especially Prime's fight on the freeway, the fight between Bumblebee and Barricade, and the opening sequence at the military base.


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