A look back at ‘Transformers’: More than meets the eye?

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Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes and Optimus Prime in Transformers
Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes and Optimus Prime in Transformers

While waiting in line for the Transformers ride at Universal Studios Singapore yesterday, I was hit by an urge to revisit the movie after listening to the soundtrack play over and over in the 35-minute long queue.

And so here’s the start of a series which I shall call “Defending My Favourite Movies, Even If Others Think They are Crap”. (Armageddon is next in the series if I ever get to expanding it.) Because Transformers is one of my favourite movies ever. Really.

In fact, I love the movie so much that I bought the two-disc special edition DVD with a Transforming case. (I would have preferred the case that transforms into Optimus Prime, but the local video store that I bought the DVD from only had the Megatron case, so I had no choice. :S Probably because the Optimus Prime case was exclusive to Target, so the video store couldn’t import it.)

Here’s why I LOVE Transformers:

1. A majestic score

The score is majestic, soaring, and has the gravitas to carry off a movie about Saving the Earth. I love movies with patriotic scores like that.

One of my favourite scenes in Transformers, overlaid with the majestic “Arrival to Earth” from Steve Jablonsky’s score.

(Which is why I also loved Armageddon. Have you listened to its score? I dare you to *not* feel proud of America after watching that movie, regardless of whether you actually are American. (I’m not.) This can be turned into a dissertation on how all these Hollywood blockbusters — especially ones made by Michael Bay — that are distributed worldwide are a form of American soft power and rah-rah-ism, but I’m not going to go into that now, if ever.)

Look at all the astronauts striding in slow-mo, against the backdrop of an American flag, while people cheer them on as heroes and the American president gives a speech heard around the world about America saving the day!

2. Inspiring, patriotically-shot scenes

The military shots of pilots running to their fighter jets, fighter jets taking off and zooming around purposefully, aircraft carriers heading towards war imposingly etc. were inspiring, filled me with a sense of pride (and that is something, considering I am not even American), and make for great military recruitment ads. Josh Duhamel, as the captain of the band of survivors, is also really hot.

3. The Autobots are cool

Look, they’re robots that transform into cool cars. How can you not like them??

Michael Bay made one heck of a car commercial. I don’t know a single person who didn’t want a “Bumblebee” Camaro after watching the film. In the behind-the-scenes extras, one of the filmmakers said that General Motors sponsored the film, and was the most cooperative they had ever been on the films he worked with them on. Yep, because they are getting a 144-minute car commercial that’s probably way more effective than any 2-minute commercial they could have paid for themselves. Best advertising bargain ever.

Yes, Transformers was silly, especially Shia’s annoying, fast-talking, jittery lead character, and his ridiculous parents. The action is such a blur that sometimes I have no idea what’s happening. The lines are cheesy. The music editing is strange and abrupt at times. The plot made sense on a surface level, as long as you didn’t question why the U.S. Department of Defense hired analysts who sounded Australian, or weird people like John Turturro’s character to oversee top secret government agencies, and other things like that.

But you’ve got to admire the visual effects wizardry of the transforming robots. (Still amazed every time I watch it.) The sheer bombast and effort that goes into making a blockbuster like this, mostly, the keeping track of everything — getting all the shots from different angles, making sure your scenes shot in different places all look like the same place, your explosions go off how you want them, etc.

And above all, I was entertained. (Which is all I really ask for when I go to the movies, as long as they don’t cross the line into stupidity like spoof movies do.) So what if I didn’t have to think much? I’m content to leave the thinking for films that want to be thought about, which this one clearly doesn’t.

Where to watch Transformers in the U.S.

Streaming services: Transformers is not on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or any other streaming services.

Rent/Buy: Get it on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Microsoft, FandangoNOW, Redbox

Where to watch Transformers in Singapore

Streaming services: Transformers is on Netflix, but not Amazon Prime Video or any other local streaming services.

Rent/Buy: Get it on iTunes

Where to watch Transformers in other countries

You can refer to my handy guide on how to find specific movies and watch them online legally, even if you’re outside the U.S.

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