by Robin Rowe on Jul 09, 2007
Transformers is the big summer action movie for 2007.
If you thought Spider-man 3 was fun, but just too damn
long and the same old story, you need to see this movie. In fact,
if you wouldnít dream of going to see Spider-man 3,
you still want to see this movie. Transformers accomplishes
something that few high-testosterone movies ever do. Appeal to
chicks. My girlfriend sat open mouthed, grabbing my arm to whisper,
"Look! Look!", during the whole movie. But, thatís
The screening Iím attending is an advance press screening,
which is a more typical reviewer experience than the rough cut
screening with the director that I saw for Shrek 3. Transformers
director Michael Bay didnít make an appearance at the
screening, but I interviewed him earlier. Check out my companion
story, An Interview with
Michael Bay. (For my story on the editors of Transformers,
see the July issue of Editorís Guild Magazine.)
As I enter the soaring modern lobby of the three-story Hollywood
Arclight Cinema, a beautiful Amazon of a woman with an outrageously
short crew cut is waving at me enthusiastically. Itís the
Paramount publicist. My girlfriend Gabrielle is talking to her.
Gabrielle, who cannot be happy unless sheís ten minutes early,
nudges me on, "Hurry, get us seats!"
As I sit in the center seat of the first row in the theater,
which is a fantastic seat at the Arclight, Iím greeted with
a demanding question from the six-year-old sitting next to me.
"Whoís youíre favorite Transformer?!!" Iím
completely stumped. Iíve never read the Transformers
comic books or watched the TV show. "Bumblebee!", he
squeals. Iím rescued as Gabrielle arrives and exclaims, "Heís
so cute!". The boy blushes and hides his head as Gabrielle
There are bad robots, the Decepticons, and good robots,
the Autobots. If youíve seen the Transformers trailer
(and who hasnít?), you know that Disturbiaís Shia
LaBeouf (Sam) is just your average teenage boy whose first car
turns out to be a sentient alien robot. What would otherwise be
the heartwarming but dull introduction to the story of Samís
family life and buying his first car is intercut with a huge alien
robot attack on an American base in Qatar. For geographically
challenged Americans, Qatar is north of Saudi Arabia and east
of Bahrain on the Persian Gulf. Qatar, a former British protectorate,
has been ruled by the al-Thani family since the mid-1800s, with
oil revenues that give it the highest per capita income in the
world. If you want more, do what I did and check out the CIA Factbook
Likable Las Vegas sidekick Josh Duhamel is captain of
a special forces unit with sidekick bad-ass dude Tyrese Gibson
from 2 Fast 2 Furious. The furious cutting from the captainís
story in Qatar to Sam in suburbia (not Disturbia) keeps
the story moving. The hero goal for the rest of the movie is to
retrieve the magical alien artifact and keep it from the Decepticons,
who would use it to enslave the Earth by transforming our machines
into an army of crazed alien robots. The plot is simple and direct,
with built-in stakes and urgency. Perfect for an action picture.
No time for weeping over breaking up with Mary Jane like Peter
Parker in Spider-man 3. Itís go, go, go!
Within two minutes of the opening credits weíre in
Qatar flying in tilt-wing Osprey transports (the latest in rad
marine helicopters that look and fly like airplanes), scrambling
F-22 Raptors, and under a big-ass attack. This is how an action
movie is supposed to work. Director Michael Bay gets to play with
all the cool military toys thanks to Pearl Harbor, which
maybe didnít thrill critics, but the Department of Defense
sure liked. Bay doesnít like directing it fake with blue
screen like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The
military gear is expensive and thereís lots of it, lots more
than Apocalypse Now. Itís the biggest military coordination
with a motion picture ever. Battle tanks get blown around like
confetti, and the shit is realÖexcept for blowing them up,
of course. After all, an M1 Abrams costs $4.5 million.
My girlfriend Gabrielle, who doesnít like any action films
except for National Treasure, started thinking midway though
the movie that this is a film we should get on DVD. Gabrielle
was wired on the drive home, like she drank two cans of Monster.
"I feel like I ran a race!", she said. Myself, I feel
like Iíve been through a sauna. The Arclight, one of the
best theaters in Hollywood, unexpectedly had the heat on instead
of the air conditioning. The theater had installed extra woofers
to put out lots of bass for realistic sound effects from the helicopters,
so perhaps the heat was for realism, to place us in the desert
fighting in Qatar? In the theater it was pushing 85 degrees (29
Celsius) by the end of the movie. Transformers is so good,
the audience ignores the heat.
As Gabrielle summed up afterwards, "That was fun!".
Thatís what an action movie should be. The six-year-old loved
it, too. The movie opens July 4th, like it says on the poster.
Wait, noÖthe movie opens July 3rd. Wait, there are late night
screenings on July 2nd! Like the movie, the opening is moving
fast and coming right at you. Donít miss it!