Thursday, July 05, 2007


Transformers! Robots in disguise! Transformers! More than meets the eye! I am not surprised that the filmmakers chose not to use the goofy little theme song from the cartoon. They did use one of its lines more than once; that is, “more than meets the eye.” Indeed, Transformers is a movie that truly is more than meets the eye.

I was looking forward to the movie for the simplest of reasons: giant robots fighting. It is the same internal call that draws one to a Godzilla movie. Of course the Transformers are even more spectacular than people in rubber suits destroying model cities. In terms of special effects, the film delivers quite well.

I also looked forward to the film because there is something attractive about the simple dualism of the characters. The Decepticons are here to destroy; they are evil through and through. The Autobots on the other hand are here to protect us; they are the good guys. The Transformers are more than robots in disguise, they are high-tech angels and demons who battle each other with earth in the middle. I applaud the filmmakers for not blurring that dualism.

However, there is more to the movie than meets the eye and I encountered more than I expected – for better and for worse. Firstly, for the better, I was intrigued by the story element of the All-Spark. The All-Spark is a life-giving cube that represents the creative power of a deity. It is a power that can be used for good or evil and it has landed in Earth’s back yard. The back story to the film involving the discover of Megatron in the Hoover administration, Sam Witwicky’s grandfather, and the formation of Sector Seven was clever. The motto of Sam’s family, “No sacrifice! No victory!” is an inspiring statement. It might have made more of a theme for the film, but it gets buried in the overload of the film. (Which is typical of Michael Bay’s direction).

Any of the themes could have been explored a little further to develop the human and spiritual element of the film. Of course that would mean finding more time in the film, yes? I would offer that there were a few scenes that the film could have done without, which brings me to my second “more than meets the eye” observation. Transformers includes material that is inappropriate for a movie marketed to pre-teen children. This material is not crucial to the story. I am not interested in reviewing all the inappropriate material. (Parents and conscientious movie-goers should check out movie review sites). I was caught off-guard by a PG-13 rating which only seemed to be for sci-fi violence and brief sexual humor. The so-called sexual humor was neither brief or humorous – especially when your children are with you. These moments were unfortunate blemishes on an otherwise good film. It makes one think twice about buying the DVD for the kids.