Transformers: Revenge of the Foul

18-Jun-09 5:35 PM by
Filed under Films, Humor; 3 comments.

This Friday, the sequel to the 2007 film Transformers will land. Based on my experience two years ago, I am confident in my decision to not support the new movie. It's not that the original was bad (though it was); it's that it deviated too significantly from my expectations. Lowering my expectations helped me enjoy the second Fantastic Four film more than the first, but in the case of Transformers, my expectations are fixed not in terms of quality, but of subject matter. I grew up on the Eighties cartoon (which is soon to be re-released on DVD) and consider it the quintessential version of giant, extraterrestrial, shape-shifting robots fighting each other in our own backyard. I respect that changes need be made when adapting this story to a new medium, but making it into an adolescent, anthropocentric comedy crossed the line.

I'm amazed that these movies are written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who brought us not only the entertaining (but predictable) Mission:Impossible III, but more significantly, the recent reboot of Star Trek. How can the same team produce such divergent quality? But then, if my idea of a good movie is Orson Welles playing a toy, then maybe my perspective is skewed.

Regardless, I expect Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to not be this summer's only disappointing film about robots. What if those two movies didn't just morph, but merged? Would they form… Transforminators?

Or maybe Transformers on its own already has more robotic characters than even we realize:

Though obviously a spoof, this concept isn't altogether foreign. The movie S1m0ne suggested something similar, in which the protagonist created a completely artificial actress whose performance indistinguishable from authentically wooden acting. Though the film was fictional, the recent 'Emily' image metrics demonstration showcases the ability to generate a computerized face from a real one.

Now if only they could make computerized computers that can change shape, act, and star in a critically successful film…

(Hat tip to Blake Patterson)

To Serve and Protect

01-Jul-07 12:49 PM by
Filed under Films, Television; 6 comments.

Speaking of top films lists, Entertainment Weekly has published, in preparation for Transformers: The Movie, "our 10 favorite mechanical men (and fembots) in movie history". The list honors good guys such as the Iron Giant (a hero after my own Superman-inspired heart, and the subject of scrutiny in the film studies course I taught), Data, and R2-D2 and C-3PO (who I'd never consciously realized to be an Odd Couple) — but also appropriately celebrates the persistent destruction wrought by darker cyborgs, Robocop and the Terminator (the latter described as "an all-purpose golem").

These two futuristic deathbringers represent possibly my favorite action films ever: the original Robocop film and the second Terminator. The former is a haunting tale of a man robbed of his family, his memory, even his emotions — everything but his career. He uses that sole connection to give his life purpose and, eventually, his audience a TV series that I actually enjoyed. The latter is a villain sent from the future to alter the past… but for better, or for worse? Plot twists, character dynamics (especially the humanity of the Terminator and lack of same in Sarah Connor), and awesome action sequences make this a film that's more than meets the eye.

Too bad these two robotic icons never encountered each other… or did they?!