Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Whatever chance Transformers might have been a decent movie disappeared the moment Bay was hired to direct.

With no sense for consistency, Bay jumps from slapstick to insult humor ("Let's make fun of fat guys eating doughnuts!") to dead-serious melodrama. The story is all over the place, too, with more holes than plot. And the dialogue is dreadful. Only LaBeouf and Turturro have the proper sense of humor to pull off their hyperbolic lines. These two actors are the only reasons to see the movie.

With all the trademarked Michael Bay badness roiling about, it is easy to overlook something that may have doomed this live-action "Transformers" even with a decent director. By trying to make the Transformers appear realistic the film technicians take away the charm of the toys, cartoons and comics. In their robot forms, the Transformers look like every other computer-generated special effect of the last decade. During Bay's poorly staged and never-ending action sequences, we're just watching one set of metal frames pounding away at another.

Admittedly, much of my antipathy towards this movie is the product of having seen it at an advance screening that was perilously choked with un-socialized Saved by the Bell extras that made me feel much better about myself. Still more egregious was the bizarre view amongst the corpulent corps congregated at the cinema that the movie "was good for what it is". It is, apparently, too much to expect a film lasting 2 hours and 24 minutes (enough time to run 20 miles) to have been coherent and not borrow humour from the early '90s.

"It was good for what it was" means that just about anything can be good. My rendition of Ave Maria in the shower is now "good for what it is", as is water with E. Coli, though the logical retort would be that it was good for something that was not at all good. No one goes to see Transformers expecting a cinematic masterpiece, but it failed at even delivering insipid entertainment.

Far more unfortunate than this one particular movie is the unfortunate lowering of standards for a good movie. Sure, you don't attend a horror movie expecting to laugh and you don't attend a comedy seeking drama, but a movie still ought to be good by the standard of goodness, not by being a good piece of trash.

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