All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Movie Review: Transformers


At the beginning of these holidays, I compiled a mental list of must-see Summer movies. Towering at the top of the group was of course The Simpsons, closely followed by the Die Hard, Harry Potter and Bourne franchises and just making it into the top five, the rank outsider, Evan Almighty.

Transformers was nowhere to be seen. If anything, it would have headed a list of must-miss movies. I had no interest whatsoever in seeing that film.

You have to understand that I belonged to the generation who directly preceded the Transformer toys. My early years were firmly rooted in the 1970's and I was an an Action Man freak. I had countless dolls, numerous outfits, cars, skis, parachutes etc. Oh yes, Action Man was my transformer.

And I had Steve Austin.

I was absolutely besotted with the Six Million Dollar Man. I ran like him (in slow motion of course), jumped like him (remember the sound he made when he jumped up and landed on crouched knees?) and lived to watch a new episode of the programme every Thursday night. I had the doll with the magnifying eye, the blue jeans changeover suit and even the operating theatre that transformed into an Apollo Rocket.

I was Steve Austen.

There is a scene in The Forty Year Old Virgin when Steve Carrel's character talks about (and handles) his Steve Austen doll (as well as the Oscar Goldman one). Every time I see it, my heart skips a beat and I get all fuzzy inside. I know exactly where's he going with those thoughts he expresses. Remember, I was Colonel Austen! (I also foolishly made the mistake of watching an old episode a few years ago and it really was quite abysmal - I guess some things are best left to memory.)

Which brings me back to my original statement about my not being part of the Transformer generation - to the extent that I really did not wish to see the movie.

So why am I writing about a film I didn't want to see?

Well, its pretty straightforward. Friends went to see the movie, as did those nasty old newspaper reviewers and everyone I spoke to (or read about) who'd seen the film, gave it a pretty good recommendation.

Now I could say that I am not influenced by reviews, but I'm afraid I'm not that strong. So, on the advice of my good wife, who had also received the same positive vibes, I went along to see what all the fuss was about....and the my surprise, those people and reviewers weren't wrong.

Transformers is that rare breed, an action movie which actually refuses to sacrifice its special effects (and they really are very special) for a good, meaty storyline. This is a sci-fi outing with a soul and a message to boot. Yes, the CGI's are eye-poppingly good, but the storyline and incisive script are also well thought out, at times pretty funny and unusually thought-provoking. I suppose you could blame Steven Spielberg's very obvious involvement for all of this, but at the end of the day, Transformers did not turn out to be the kind of film I would have wanted to avoid.

So in conclusion, I do recommend seeing the film -in fact, I'd say, don't miss it! Then again, if you wait long enough, you might also see a new Steve Austen movie...

My Rating

****1/2

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