Mad, Beautiful Ideas

Catherine decided we needed to go see Transformers last night at the second run theater.  I wasn't completely opposed. I wasn't a huge Transformers fan back when I was young, don't really know why.  I've never much liked Michael Bay's directing, either.  Armageddon was okay, but that was probably in spite of the direction.  Still, I wanted to see it, and I'm glad I did so when I wasn't paying $7 a head to do it.

Still, it was a Transformers movie, and that means there are certain things you can expect.  Fights between building-scale robots, the Decepticons having stupid names and hiding in weapons of war, the Autobots going out of their way to defend the innocent.  Optimus Prime being honorable to a fault, Megatron being bent on dominating the universe, Optimus Prime never backing down from a fight that he's always going to lose, and the Autobots willingness to sacrifice everything in order to defeat the Decepticons.

Unfortunately, it was also pretty standard Hollywood fare, meaning that there was a list of other things to expect.  At least one "Bush is dumb" joke would be made, Parents would be seen as a foolish nuisance, though the male lead is kind of a dork the love interest will be a supermodel who is able to see past their differences, the Black soldier will be the first to die, and we probably won't have any reason to care about that.

Overall, the movie was decent.  If you went in looking for Giant Robots fighting each other, and Robots transforming into things that are familiar to us, you could definitely expect that.  In my opinion, the fights were kind of a cop out, though, as the film would usually only show glimpses of the fight.  Sure there were a lot of glimpses, but it's almost as if the fights were trying to be put into the background.  Plus, the one death in the movie, Jazz, doesn't even have a good fight to go along with it.  Megatron just tears him in half.  Again, not that we have any reason to care about that.  Jazz had spoken jive maybe twice, and I think he was deliberately kept in the background most of the time.

Plus, despite Optimus Prime's willingness to sacrifice himself to destroy the life-giving box that Megatron so desired, he ends up not having to, as somehow the Hero manages to use to box to destroy Megatron.  I know a lot of people my age still remember the death of Optimus Prime in the 1980s movie to be a powerful moment.  I'm still split about whether or not I think Optimus Prime should have died in this movie.  Had he, Megatron probably would have destroyed the Earth, but Optimus Prime would have died a death that truly meant something, in stoppping the flow of the Decepticons across the universe.

In the end, this movie was just more Hollywood fare.  The Heroes triumph without any meaningful losses, no great sacrifice is required for victory, and all the good guys live happily ever after.  The movie was fun to watch, but I don't think it's anything more than a renter.  Watch it once and set it aside, and get the original Transformers Movie, where Heroes are truly Heroes.