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Wednesday, July 11, 2007 

Tansformer - The Movie

Watched it a few days ago. Before this, heard a lot of people giving "extremely" good review on it; people around me just got all hyped up after watching it.

Before I start, let me clarify that, depite being a geek who is into all sorts of comics and toys and robots, I am not a big transformer fan. I had a few toys when I was young, but never been crazy about it.

However, actually I kinda have some hope or expectation on Micheal Bay. Armageddon and Pearl Harbour aint my cup of tea, but I kinda like the two Bad Boys, and the Island is aceptable to me.

Therefore, I did have some expectation onto this movie too.

Rating? I would give 7 outta 10.

Well at least I m not hyped up. Infact, there're quite a number of disappointment, despite overall it's a typically enjoyable Hollywood brainless action flick.

1. Story. Well, Hollywood action film and story...... probably I will skip it. Basically I dont expect much from it. Hence there's no disappointment at all. Can write the sypnosis in two sentences.

2. Logic. A lot of loop holes. Anyway, I m kind enough to overlook that too.......

3. Story telling. I think there's a lot more to hope for. Micheal Bay wasnt that bad in this. However, in this movie, I think he fell flat on his nose. Unnecessary character developement, unless scene, bad timing jokes, out of control overall momentum setting etc etc. Read somewhere before when speilberg first asked him to direct the show, Micheal thought it was just another "robot cartoon" stuff like that. I think the main problem he was facing is the balance of characters in the movie. According to Transformer fans, this show is about the Transformers, an alien living things. However, in this movie, there's a confussion of who is the main character, the alien? or human. I think Bay is not very familiar with this, there're many moments, in fact most of the time, people will just see the transformers as military gadgets or human's tools instead of a living thing.

4. Character development & Design. Is pretty bad in fact. There're charaters that the movie has spent so much time in developing but of no use. In other words, one can just take away these charaters and the story still goes on. However, Bay is not famous for this so maybe I could close one eye. Just that it's a bit frustrating when you thought a character was the main guy and try to connect yourself to him/her while lateron realised that is just nobody. It's a bit like those disaster movie where many characters are involved but none are actually a deciding hero. That's ok cause the disaster itself is actually the main focus. But, Transformer, it's definitely not a disaster movie.
As for the robot designs: I am a heavy metal fan. Instead of focusing on the character/robot, when I m making plastic model, I am always more attracted to the inner engine/ machine. Not only robots, but cars and bikes. I just like the complicated feel of different piece of metal put together and function as a whole. a more "low tech" feel like the fork-lift robot in Aliens or anyone could remeber the big robot in Judge Dred? So when I first saw some screen shots and posters, I was totally fascinated. I told myself if there're to be transformer injection kit out in the market, I will trade my life to buy.
The only problem here is: The action sequences and animation in the movie is so damn fast! To add on top of it, Bays cinematography makes it even harder to differentiate which is which (Will eleborate more in the next paragraph). I think color used in the movie is just not enough. Except Bumble Bee (Orangy Yellow) and Optimus Prime (Red); all the other characters are in silver and black, yeah light olive green, or some might call field green grey. Silver is more or less grey, it's only the reflective nature that we can call it silver than grey. So can you imagine one black and one grey transformer with 75% of there engineparts/inner machanical parts exposed which are also silver or grey, fighting each other? With different cameras shifting to each others in every 1.8 seconds? To me, many times I just cant tell which is which. More like two piles of metal moving and punching and rolling onto each other.
5. Cinematography. Bay is definitely into military stuff. Shots on all those military scene is so much better than the Transformers'. Explosion, glass breaking, cars flipping over and flying off(!), car chase, F21 ready to take off; all these are so much fun to watch, and is top notch quality. But I m here to watch Transformer!
In HongKong traditional kungfu movies, I always enjoy those with characters who really fight. How do I know as an audience? Long scene, capture the two fighting character at least 80% of there body, which can clearly see their chereography and movement. This is good. For the bad ones, or the actor/actress cant do the move, the movie will contain a lot of short scene, close-up angle; mainly to cover up the inability of the character to perform certain moves.
I must agree the transforming movement in the show is awesome. And I know it's very difficult to generate such animation, blend it into the pre-shoot scene. I also know it's extremely hard for a director to shoot such a scene. However, as a summer blockbuster and one of the most highly anticipated movie of the year, I expect more.
If there're only one transformer or they are not interacting with each other physically (like just doing their own stuff individually), I just love the detail and top notch special effects. However, when come to fight scene, there're a "few" scenes that show their full bodies. Far too few I think. Most of the time are short cuts and close ups. In addition, the color scheme is just too similar among Transformers; a lot of time I could just see there 're some movement, someone fighting another one, but did not know who is who.

For example, for Pic1, the whole scene takes 3~4 seconds. The audience could see clearly character A jump, in the air he pulls back his right arm, then punch on the face of chracter B, and character B fall down. It's more fun to watch. Lets say if character A cant jump,or a stunt man needed for it, the six frames on the left will be shot. 1 Close up of A's foot to show he jumps. 2 . Ready to striker. 3. cut to the face of B. 4. Close up showing partly of bothe A's and B's; probably cant see the face of B (stunt man). 5. Close up of some body moving in high speed, for the feel of high spped :) 6. B's face.
Probably each frame then will only have 0.7 seconds.
This's the problem with the movie's action scene.
So I sounded like totally hate the show? No, 7 outta 10 is already a damn good rating. IT's an entertaining movie nevertheless. Is just that I feel Bay is definitely lost, or he's just struggling with outer pressure, the producer, boss, and the fans; or inner confussion; trying to understand why people like robot animation, especially transformers, which are actually not robots but aliens. I think he has made this movie half way of everything. Partly disaster, partly military, partly sci-fi robotic movie. Neither is completely done.
Now I know how he felt when he was first offer this opportunity. I think he is feeling more or less the same thing now, unfortunately.

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