Tuesday, September 04, 2007


For the second weekend in a row, I was let down by an America friend backing out of going out. Last Saturday, I decided to go out on my own and went to see "Transformers." I wasn't a fan of the original cartoon, TV series. It was a bit after my time, as I was grown up by the time it came out. I did have a small encounter with the cartoon TV series, though. During the 1984-85 school year, I worked as a school bus driver, while training to be a flight instructor. One of the kids on the bus, Tommy, had a bad reputation as being a lot of trouble. Previous drivers had repeatedly "written up" the boy for causing disturbances amongst the other children. I was warned not to hesitate to "write up" Tommy, if he caused any trouble.
I have never been a fan of authoritarian solutions. Instead, I talked to Tommy. I told him that the seat right behind me was a special seat, which only the most privileged child could have the honor of sitting in. Of course, he wanted that honor. This kept him close to me, so I could monitor him, and away from the majority of the other children, who hung out towards the back of the bus. Next, I talked to him and asked him what he liked to do. This led him to tell me about the TV shows he enjoyed. One of the ones he named was "The Transformers." I decided to watch the shows he named, a few times, so I could speak about them with him, thus keeping him "entertained" while he was riding the bus. That was how I ended up watching a few episodes of "The Transformers" cartoon TV series.
It worked. Tommy got into the habit of quietly sitting in the special seat and discussing cartoons with me. Meanwhile, I learned about the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (the good guys), versus the Decepticons, led by Megatron (the bad guys). Transformers are robots which are able to "transform" into cars, trucks, and other innocent looking machines. After one school year, I quit that job. It was only meant to be temporary. I also quit watching "The Transformers." I was in my mid-twenties and it didn't have any nostalgic appeal for me.
Fast forward twenty-two years later. Someone has decided to make a feature length, live-action film of the Transformers. From trailers for it I had seen in the cinema, I was impressed with the Computer Generated Images (CGI) technology which bring the Transformers to "life," on the screen. With my original plans for Saturday postponed, I decided to go see the film. As it has already been out for about two months, there was only one showing on Saturday, at the local cinema, in Bracknell, at 5:10PM. Oddly, when I arrived at the box office, the line for the multiplex was so long, I ended up missing the first few minutes of the film. From where I picked it up, I only need one word to describe the film: fantastic!
Director, Michael Bay, has done a great job turning a line of toys into a film, while keeping it relatively faithful to the earlier cartoon versions. The special effects are amazing but the film doesn't solely ride on CGI. There's a human story as well. Shia LaBeouf plays Sam Witwicky, a somewhat nerdy high school student, who gets his first car. Megan Fox plays Mikaela Banes, Sam's love interest in the film. The first thing I can say about the aptly named Fox is that she's hot! What's icing on the cake is that her character is an expert mechanic and that's hot too. I can't think of much that's more exciting than a beautiful babe who can turn a wrench. Fellas, if you like your female eye candy a bit more on the academic side, there's also the lovely Rachael Taylor, playing brainiac computer whiz, Maggie Madsen. All the women in this film are clever and I'm one of those guys who's not intimidated by clever women, so I was loving it. There's a message in there for the women of the world. Nice guys like women with brains. Don't worry ladies, there are some hunky guys in it too, as U.S. soldiers. I'm sure many young women will also find LaBeouf cute as well (I've herd he's dating Rihanna). Anyway, that's one of the great things about this film. There's something for everyone.
Of course, Sam Witwicky's first car turns out to be an Autobot named, "Bumblebee." The car/robot's loyalty to Sam is heart warming, as well as building on every man's fantasy that his car is loyal to him. The film also has some funny comic elements and I found myself laughing out loud several times, starting with Bernie Mac as the used car dealer, and continuing with Sam's parents. Special effects as good as those in the film are best enjoyed on the big screen. If you haven't already seen it, try to catch the film before it leaves the cinemas for good. Watching it as a DVD, at home, just won't compare. This film is enjoyable, escapist fare. I liked it much more than "Spiderman 3." It's not as sophisticated as "Bourne Ultimatum," but on a simpler level, it's more fun. Some newspaper critics have complained that it's too long, but I didn't think so. Although two hours and twenty-four minutes long, it doesn't drag and I was sorry to see it end. I wanted more. This is a fun film which the whole family can enjoy. Kids will love it, while there is enough in it to keep adults entertained, as well. "Transformers..." more than meets the eye.

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