If you didn’t see Transformers in a theatre, you missed one of the biggest treats of this last summer’s crop of blockbusters. Simply put, Transformers is the best live action film to have been based on a line of toys, or an animated TV series.
When I was a kid, there were summers when I connected with one film to the extent that I didn’t see many other movies for a stretch of eight-to-twelve weeks. I spent one summer, for example seeing the John Way classic, El Dorado. That film so connected with me that I can’t change channels if I come across it on TV – and I still dig out the DVD every so often. If I was twelve again, Transformers would have been one of those movies – even at a middling multiple of twelve, it’s made an impact that is similar to my first screenings of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars.
Why should what is in essence a 143-minute commercial for a line of toys have such an effect on a veteran film buff such as myself? Because the script [by Alias scribes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman] is a tale about a boy and his car and a boy and his first girlfriend – as well as being about the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. Well, that and the fact that director Michael Bay not only outdid himself in terms of action set pieces and effects work, but also in terms of pure storytelling and making his characters [human and living robot] real.
I went into the screening with some trepidation and came out one of several hundred viewers that applauded at the end. Even though the trailers for Transformers had suggested that there would be some reasonably well developed human characters, I hadn’t expected that much from Bay – who is much more of an ideas & effects guy – but he not only pulled it off, he made it sing. The result was that Transformers was one of the two best blockbusters of the summer [alongside Live Free or Die Hard].
I’ve watched the DVD twice now – once to relive the movie and once to listen to Bay’s commentary – and I have to say that Transformers really does hold up well on the small screen. The action set pieces are a bit diminished, but still thrilling, and the human moments are possibly even more affecting. The film still blazes along – and still sucks you into its world.
Features include: Disc One: a highly entertaining commentary by Bay [the man can blow his own horn, but he’s also a terrific source of information]; Disc Two: two groups of Featurettes and a solo Featurette: Our World: The Story Sparks [how the film was developed]; Human Allies [the importance of the human characters]; I Fight Giant Robots; Battleground; Their War: Rise of the Robots; Autobots Rollout [the selection and development of the Autobot characters]; Decepticons Strike [the selection and development of the Decepticon characters]; Inside The AllSpark; More Than Meets the Eye.
Grade: Transformers – A
Grade: Features: A+
Final Grade: A