A few years ago, when the Bourne penultimatum came out, I set aside my distaste for the first movie and decided to give it a go. They used a different director than the Bourne Identity and I thought it might be entertaining.
Wrong. Even if the plot was interesting, this was in essence an action movie, and what I want from an action movie is well-choreographed chase and fight scenes. What I got instead was the lazy man’s guide to how to make an action movie – i.e. take Matt Damon, and have him pretend-fight some baddies all while aiming a camera-on-a-fishing-pole in his general direction and jumping on a trampoline. The benefit is that you get what looks like action without ever having to choreograph anything. Throw in some heart-pounding music and you’ve got yourself an action movie.
Needless to say I was left unimpressed, not to mention nauseous, by the whole experience. So when Ultimatum came out this year by the same director, and my Brother-in-Law told me it was more of the same only shakier, I wisely steered clear.
Now, enter Transformers. Here’s a movie that rates 7.6 on IMDb – so I’m expecting a decent action movie with a few plot twists and maybe an interesting character or two. I might not approve of the action in Bourne, but at least the plot was interesting, and the series warrants its respectable rating on IMDb. Transformers is an altogether different animal.
And by different I mean horribly, horribly unwatchable.
And it’s sad because it was a property with great potential. With the amount they spent on special effects, you’d think they would want to show them off. Nope. Not once do we see a nice clear shot of one of the vehicles changing into a robot. Not once!
In every instance where there was a transformation, the camera is rotating, or zig-zagging, or it’s in super-macro, or it’s out of focus. That was fine for the first one or two times, but come on! Even Jurassic Park showed us the whole dinosaur once in a while.
But it doesn’t stop there. No. Any time there’s action, all you see is quick zig-zaggy shot of rifle, quick zig-zaggy shot of smoke, quick zig-zaggy shot of robot hand, quick zig-zaggy shot of helicopter, Quick zig-zaggy… well, you get the picture. And in fact, if you do get the picture, that’s pretty much it. For 2.5 hours.Yeesh.
Oh, forgive me… it’s not ALL action. There are scenes of cardboard characters doing cardboard things. The socially-awkward geek trying to hit on the shallow girlfriend of the sexy football jock. The socially awkward geek buying his first car with his loving but clueless father. The ass who runs the super-secret government wing that deals with aliens. This is a straight ahead action movie with no room for interesting plot twists, or character development. And since the action is unwatchable, what are we left with?
The answer: truckloads of product placement for Chevy, Pontiac, Nokia, HP, Cisco, Hummer, Porsche, and dozens of other things you might like to purchase. Which is sad, because with the money they made from the product placement, they might have at least made an effort to find someone with vision to direct this, and maybe properly choreograph an action sequence or two. Instead, all you’ve got is a 2.5 hour advertisement.