Monday, June 27, 2011

For 2.5 hours, Transformers was my favorite film of 2007...

I kinda hated the first Transformers.  Yes, it was a more disciplined and coherent picture than the Revenge of the Fallen, but it had many of the same problems that critics and fans only seemed to notice two years later.  It was chock-full not with robot-smashing action, but with half-hearted attempts at character development, first-grade humor, and ungodly of 'plot' that had no pay off and never really mattered by the time the third act rolled around.  I didn't care about whether or not Sam Witwicky would 'man up' and win the heart/vagina of Mikaela Banes (the same 'Can the nerd get the hot girl next door?' plot was frankly done far better in LeBeouf's Disturbia just two months earlier).  I didn't care about the campy antics of hackers Glen Whitmman (Anthony Anderson again proving that he's a good dramatic actor but a terrible comic one) and Maggie Madsen.  And most importantly, I was stunned by the lack of actual robot-on-robot action sequences.  Optimus Prime doesn't show up until 70 minutes into the film, Megatron doesn't appear until about 100 minutes in, and the first Optimus Prime action scene goes down a full 110 minutes into the 140 minute picture.  I spent most of the film waiting for the actual Autobots vs. Decepticons action.  And even when it came in act three, the film spent more time showing Jon Voight blasting bugs with a shotgun than showing Optimus Prime and Megatron going at it.  But then, I had my first child...

No, having a child didn't open my eyes to the innocence and wonder of the first Transformers or some rubbish like that.  The thing you have to understand about Allison is that she never slept.  Ever.  After that initial week or two, she pretty much had to be tricked into taking a nap during the day.  She also didn't like Transformers either, as her unborn self violently kicked my wife's belly in protest during the screening (she did the same thing when forced to watch Grease 2... wouldn't you?).  So, anyway, when the film came out on DVD in November, I ended up renting the HD-DVD.  I did this mainly because it seemed like I was one of the only filmgoers that summer who didn't like Transformers, and I thought I owed it a second chance.  Also, I wanted to see what a top-notch HD-DVD presentation looked like.  So, I tossed the film into the player and turned on the commentary and hoped for a moment of clarity (same thing I hope for whenever I watch The Goonies).  Within the first five minutes, my daughter was asleep.  She stayed asleep.  Logging what was then her longest nap ever (it's still in the top five), my three-month old daughter zonked out for a solid 145 minutes.  The film still stunk the second time around, but for two-and-a-half glorious hours, my pick for my least favorite film of 2007 became the best gosh-darned movie of the year.

Scott Mendelson          

PS - As for Dark of the Moon, I'll let you know if the third time really is the charm early this evening.

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