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Why Are You Reading? Go See Transformers!

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Do I exaggerate? Maybe. But I am one of the few out there that were pissed when that army guy legally changed his name to Optimus Prime only because I hadn’t thought of doing that first. No, the movie isn’t going to change the world or win any Academy Awards beyond special effects recognition. And no, the characters don’t exactly grow and change too much. And yes, without reading the comic book prequel you might be a little confused as to why this or that happened and what not. But in the end that doesn’t really matter one bit.

 

With a simple plot built around the concept of finding the "Allspark" before Megatron and the Decepticons can and thereby saving humanity, the movie is far from complicated. It is, however, beyond awesome. When Sam Witwicky, played by one of the future "elder statesmen" of acting, buys a beat-up 1974 yellow Camaro who turns out to be everyone’s favorite Autobot Bumblebee, the action begins. With everything from a comically evil boom box and kick-ass car chases to gigantic robotic beat downs and soon to be classic one-liners as well as bits of comedic genius, the movie goes full throttle all the way through to the explosive ending. As the Autobots and Decepticons battle amid the streets of a heavily populated city, the action grows and grows to an explosive ending that left this viewer completely satisfied.

Will there be complaints? Sure, there always are. But I didn’t get into this business to badmouth other peoples’ work—unless it really sucks—I got into this business because I love stuff like this. I love over the top science-fiction that is supposed to do little more than blow your mind. And that is exactly what this movie does. Will there be comparisons to the 1986 animated movie? Sure, I’m going to do it in a little bit. But speaking of that, where the original played up such big name actors as Orson Welles and Leonard Nemoy, one of the most effective strategies the director, Michael Bay, used was not using any superstars for the film.

The Transformers were the stars (yes, I know those actors from the original played the Transformers and I was only a kid and didn’t give a crap about Judd Nelson or the Micro Machine Guy, but stay with me). While the actors, including such fine talents as Megan Fox, Bernie Mac, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro, and Kevin Dunn, are all around excellent, keeping superstars out of the mix helped make the Transformers the main attraction. With the addition of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime there was really little the filmmakers could do to make this movie suck.

But I never thought it would suck. Sure I had the initial worries one gets when he thinks he might be building things up a bit much. But beyond those few butterflies, my worry was squashed a few years ago when I saw Stephen Spielberg pretty much bare his soul to the Transformers fans about his love of the toy line. He reminisce about buying the original line for his kids, then going to the store and buying some for him. Here was a producer, I thought, who would treat this franchise with a modicum of respect. He did.

The movie rocks. The movie rocks out loud. The movie rocks hard. The movie rocks.

It has taken the bad taste of the misguided, tragic, and totally irresponsible death of Optimus Prime from the cartoon movie and replaced it with the taste of strawberries and whipped cream eaten off of the loveliest dish in the world (I’d go into more detail here about what that means but kids might be reading this). Perhaps the original film is a bit more sophisticated, with a stronger plot when you discount things like Optimus dying after a fist fight and Ultra Magnus getting blown to freaking pieces and somehow managing to survive. But Transformers doesn’t need a stronger plot to be amazing. It just needs giant transforming robots kicking each other’s butts and some human interaction that makes us feel like we could be a part of it. Hey! That’s Michael Bay’s movie in a nutshell! Sweet!

What more can I say? What more gushing praise do these people who already make way more money than this lowly English teacher who moonlights as a contributor to an online pop culture zine deserve? Well, I can’t speak to what they do or do not deserve. But I know I will give them my applause for this creation. It is like they took the original cartoon, dusted it off, updated it with flashier cars and better special effects, threw a little bit of maturity in there to make it still appeal to the kids that loved it twenty years ago (i.e. me), and fed it to us with a transforming spoon for kicks.

If you consider yourself a fan of Transformers, and there are few more apt to say that than I, go see this movie. And if you don’t like it because of some petty, "He doesn’t turn into a VW Bug and Optimus has flames" bull$#@! then you need to take a closer look at yourself in the mirror and ask why that sort of thing matters so much.

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