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Autobots, transform! 7/15/2007

I went to watch “Transformers” yesterday.

Was it good? Yes and no.

The CGI was nicely done, and watching the transformation sequences was nice. The “money shot” where the Autobots posed in a group after their transformation was poster worthy. And I almost clapped and cheered when Optimus Prime made his transformation. Bumblebee as a Camaro instead of a VW Beetle was excellent.

But there was no character development. The cartoon series from 25 years ago was way more engrossing than this movie. And the focus on the humans, and the whole “Sam Witwicky is a loser” thing had way too much time wasted on it.

I mean, when I watch a Transformers movie, I want to see Transformers, dammit. Who gives a flying toss about the humans? Humans are weak and disgusting. “You care for what happens to them, Optimus Prime, and that is what makes you weak.” No that is not a line from the movie, although it should have been.

I confess to having been old enough to have watched the entire Transformers thing from the beginning. And not as a wide eyed 6 year old either. I encountered my first Transformer as a toy being held in the hands of a 3 year old being baby-sat by my riding buddy’s mother. This would have been in the very early 80’s, and it was very probably the first Tranformer in the country. He asked me if I had ever seen one of these things before, and we grabbed it from the kid, ignoring his screams and wails of protest, and spent the best part of a half hour transforming this thing.

I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it now, but I was utterly fascinated by the way it folded together and into itself. My younger cousins, a few years later, were utterly Transformers mad, and I watched along with them. And I grew to enjoy the stories, and the characters, although you could never have called me a hard core fan.

So sitting in the movie theatre yesterday afternoon, large box of popcorn in my lap, I enjoyed revisiting some of my memories of 20 years ago, of lying on a carpet in my uncle’s home on a Sunday morning, with my cousins on either side of me, eyes glued to the idiot box, watching Optimus Prime and Megatron slug it out.

What wasn’t so funny was me sitting in the theatre yesterday, laughing aloud at some of the old Transformer’s in jokes, and other cameos, and then realising I was the only person in the theatre who got it. Which was strange, because some of the other parents in the theatre were definitely my age, or a little younger, and I would have thought they would get some of the jokes. But no, they didn’t, like the one where Bumblebee, in his Camaro guise, was sitting next to a Volkswagen Beetle in the used car lot. I laughed at that one, when they showed the shot, and people looked at me a little weird. They all laughed at the part where Bumblebee shoves the Beetle aside though. I guess slapstick works better instead of subtlety where humour and local audiences are concerned.

In the meantime, I’ll be waiting for the DVD of the movie to make it’s appearance. This will be one show I’ll be watching again, not for the story, but for the characters.

“Autobots, roll out!”