It took us over ten years, but hell, we finally got a great live action “Transformers” movie. The only thought that came to mind while I was watching the opening ten minutes of “Bumblebee” was: Why didn’t we get this in the first place? Why did Sony opt for such a moronic, nonsensical, incoherent mess of a franchise, rather than deliver what is easily the best live action representation of the franchise I’ve seen so far. Everything in “Bumblebee” is the antithesis of what Michael Bay’s movies were, right down to the lack of racial stereotypes, and the jingoism. Granted, there is a meat head military hero with John Cena, but that’s a miniscule nitpick in a movie that’s just such a great experience from beginning to end.
In the late eighties companies still wanted their own version of the Transformers to sell to kids and market some hit animated show that sells them plastic toys. By the late eighties just about every company thought of some way to create creatures or heroes that would transform out of some disguise. There were heroes that transformed from boulders, there were even heroes that looked like normal everyday food and kitchen utensils! Yes kids, why buy a hamburger when you can buy action figures that look like a hamburger, or a slice of pizza.
Robots are at an all time high in popularity across the world. Not since the eighties has there been such a surge of robotic characters in pop culture, what with the smashing success of Michael Bay’s “Transformers” movies, the battling bots in “Real Steel,” the upcoming “Battleship,” and the enigmatic David in Ridley Scott’s highly anticipated “Prometheus,” robots are as richly tapped in modern pop culture as ever before. In celebration of the newest trend of robots in modern cinema and media, we compiled ten of our favorite robots of pop culture, ranging from film, TV, comics, and literature. Grease up your rivets, and dive in.
Shout! Factory releases one of the finer animated relics of the nineties: “Beast Wars” a veritable buffet of trademark Transformers tropes that pits Autobot against Decepticon except this time they’re in animal form and are now known as the Maximals and the Predacons, two warring races of transformers descendents whom are all marooned on a distant planet from Cybertron where the two races are now fighting for control of the mysterious fossil fuel known as Energon. As a fan boy of the transformers at one time I can very much remember indulging myself in the saga of the Beast Wars.
I’m one of those people who very much looked forward to “Pontypool,” and am not ashamed to admit that I was utterly disappointed with this production. It was dull as day old bread, lacked in sheer suspense and tension and sadly didn’t quite creep me out as much as its double “Dead Air” did. Not quite a zombie movie, people like to brand it as such and there aren’t even many zombies that pop up. What we get in the end is a practice in a cinematic dry humping that promises frights and never actually delivers. Seek out “Dead Air” for a nearly identical premise that works much better.
The voice work for the transformers is as top notch as ever with Peter Cullen taking to the character with his usual skill as well as Hugo Weaving who is just great as Megatron. Despite my problems with the movie, the massive carnage is quite impressive along with the design of the Transformers themselves who help keep the film afloat at its lowest. Despite not being the worst movie of 2007, there’s no denying that “Transformers” was a clunky mess that had zero direction and almost little appeal beyond the target demographics: 1. People looking for robot smashing and 2. Megan Fox. Both of which were vastly over sold elements with little pay off, come the climax.
“Transformers” has the distinction of being the first Michael Bay movie I’ve ever really looked forward to, and awaited information on, ever. Which is saying a lot considering Michael Bay is universally a terrible director who can’t create an entertaining movie to save his life. But setting aside I got over the Transformers hype a month before the release date, “Transformers” is a movie I expected to fail, and in actuality was proven wrong. As someone born in the early eighties, I caught onto the Transformers craze at the end, and grew fond of the robots in disguise, I have to say. To this day, being an animation buff and comic geek, I still have a tender spot for the robotic warriors, and felt a sense of anticipation and excitement brush over me as the film started. “Transformers” leaves nothing to the imagination.
This is the real Transformers movie, the one that helped the craze, a clever toy campaign that evolved into an excellent film, and an average series from Marvel Comics. To many, the film is only good on a kitschy level, but the film still manages to pack a punch as one of the few variations of the mythos that’s pretty violent in its ways. Characters die, robots destroy one another, and there’s a pretty complex plot to it. This film was introduced to me as a child way back before DVD’s ever entered the scene, and it’s still a film that’s rather entertaining and filled with thrills in spite of the animated format. “The Transformers” is not just all about nostalgia.