not much more than meets the eye

the basic premise of the Transformers movie in a nutshell: giant f*&king robots from another planet showed up to kick the sh&t out of each other. This is exactly as unbearably awesome as it sounds, even to those who have no history with the classic cartoon. This movie is going to be Exhibit A for why I invented the term, geek service. After all,

It was awesome. It was like a big honking slice of Awesome-toast buttered on both sides with awesome. It was a double serving of Hell F&^king Yeah with a side order of OMFG. If you are pumped for this, if you are ready to embrace this, if you want nothing more than to see mind blowing action unlike anything you have ever witnessed, then you will sh&t your shorts and giggle like a f&^king school girl.

The audience went absolutely apesh&t for this.

That said, there’s is a solid critique of the film that goes beyond “Michael Bay sucks” and gets more to the lost opportunity for genuine epic storytelling. Harry says it very well here:

Now TRANSFORMERS isn’t IRON GIANT. It could have been better than IRON GIANT. It could have been a Boy discovering just how vast the universe was… Bonding with BumbleBee, who introduces him to the hidden world around us… But then, just how terrifying that discovery is when you realize it isn’t just about the benevolent robots, but there’s another point of view. A breed of robots that’s out to destroy not just the boy’s robot… not just Optimus and the others… but all living creatures.

The film needed to escalate, not just with battles, but the ideas behind the battles.

There is indeed a kind of wonder to boy-meets-universe films. My all-time favorite of these is not Iron Giant but rather Explorers, a small-budget flick that starred some pretty big-name future stars, including River Phoenix. That Transformers went more for the nail-balls-to-the-wall than sense-of-awe route is of ocurse a direct result of having Bay as director; still, I have to confess that on a purely primal level, I’d rather see giant robots tear each other apart than talk sympathetically to children. I’ll go rent Explorers later as penance.