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Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

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Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

Post  Bad Wolf on Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:33 pm

When Orsen Welles was a Transformer

http://www.slate.com/id/2169619/pagenum/2/


Why the original Transformers movie is better than the new one.
By John Swansburg
Transformers: The Movie, from 1986
Surely this is not how Orson Welles imagined it would end. According to the chronology appended to Peter Bogdanovich's This Is Orson Welles, on Oct. 5, 1985, Welles spent the day on the set of Transformers: The Movie, giving voice to Unicron, a villainous, planet-eating planet. On Oct. 10, he was dead. The man's first feature film had been Citizen Kane; his last was an animated movie based on a line of toy robots.
Of course, by 1985 Welles was a long way from Rosebud. His most visible role at that point was as a pitchman for Paul Masson wine, a responsibility he does not seem to have always discharged ably. He'd also recently cut the voiceover for the Revenge of the Nerds trailer. But it would be a mistake to lump Transformers in with Welles' other regrettable late-career moves. Though a modest film compared with Michael Bay's blockbuster out today, the original Transformers is the better film. And for a certain subset of Americans—boys who were 9 in 1986—it was every bit as shocking as War of the Worlds had been for Grandma and Grandpa.
Bay's Transformers bears no resemblance to the original in terms of plot, but both movies are grounded in the same fundamental mythology. Back in the early '80s, the wily folks at Hasbro realized that the only thing better than a toy truck was a toy truck that was also a toy robot. Transformers were born, and, as was standard practice at the time, Hasbro promptly commissioned a half-hour afternoon cartoon to fill in the back story and market the toys to unsuspecting kids like me.
The Transformers, from a planet called Cybertron, were divided into two factions—the goodly Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, and the evil Decepticons, led by Megatron, who transformed from a robot into a handgun. After a long civil war, the two sides somehow end up on Earth, where their battles continue and where the cartoon picks up their story. Most episodes involved the Decepticons devising a dastardly plot to take over the universe—only to be thwarted by the Autobots.
Late-afternoon television was full of programming like this in the mid-'80s, whether it was He-Man or G.I. Joe. Transformers, though, was the first such show to jump to the silver screen. Those of us who raced to theaters as third-graders thus assumed that what we were about to see would be like the TV show, just longer and awesomer. Only in our wildest dreams did we think that the show might celebrate its liberation from network television by letting loose with a curse word. And only in our scariest nightmares would we have imagined that a mere 20 minutes into the movie, Optimus Prime, the most beloved of Autobots, would be killed by Megatron.
To use a phrase I learned the day I saw Transformers, "Oh, shit!" No one ever died in these shows. Even in G.I. Joe, a cartoon about a special U.S. Army strike force, no Rattler was ever shot down without the pilot first safely ejecting. But in the Transformers movie, the death toll was jaw-dropping. More than a dozen marquee characters are dispatched in the film, among them one of my personal favorites, Starscream, the Decepticon malcontent always scheming to relieve Megatron of his command.
Of course, all of this bloodshed had a specific purpose—to move toys. In the commentary track on the 20th-anniversary edition of the movie, Flint Dille, one of the writers, explains he was instructed to eliminate much of the existing product line to make room for the new characters Hasbro was planning to sell me. I already owned Optimus Prime, after all.
As a 9-year-old, it hardly occurred to me that this robot bloodbath was a marketing ploy. It just blew me away. Witnessing death on that scale was shocking to a sensibility that had been nurtured on white-knuckled but always successful repair operations by the trusty Autobot mechanic-medic, Ratchet.
It's funny to listen to the filmmakers on the DVD talk sheepishly about killing off all of those characters, Prime in particular. They genuinely regret it. But in watching the movie again as a grown-up, you realize that Hasbro's profit motive had the unintended consequence of forcing the movie to tell a much more sophisticated story than might otherwise have been possible. With Prime off to the great scrapheap in the sky by the end of the first act, the movie becomes one about finding a leader who can take on Prime's mantle and defeat not just Megatron, but also Orson Welles' Unicron, eating his way through the galaxy. And in a nice mythic twist, Prime's successor turns out to be an Autobot no one—not even Prime—thought it would be.
Bay's new Transformers is fun in its own goofy way, and there are enough sops to the fanboys that most will go home happy. Peter Cullen reprises his role as the voice of Optimus Prime, and the screenwriters manage not one but two invocations of the immortal phrase "more than meets the eye." But there's nothing even approaching the original's narrative depth. The good guys beat the bad guys, and no one we care about is harmed in the process—the movie hasn't succeeded in making us care about anyone. Prime comes across as a stand-up guy, but we have no real sense of Megatron's motivations or of Starscream's ambition. Bumblebee, the robot we spend the most time with in the movie, doesn't get a speaking part until the penultimate scene. The high-octane violence and PG-13 attentions lavished on Megan Fox's torso may attract some new young fans, but in the end Bay's Transformers feels timid compared with the 1985 version.
Now, before you scuttle your plans to go see the new Transformers and queue up a copy of the old one instead, let me say this. A Brad Bird production it is not. I admit that my appreciation for the animated movie is colored by nostalgia—for the toys but also for the decade that produced them. Blur, a fast-talking Autobot, is voiced by John Moschitta Jr., better known as the Micro Machines guy. The soundtrack features a song by Weird Al Yankovic and an inspirational anthem worthy of the Karate Kid's Joe "The Bean" Esposito. Robert Stack, Casey Kasem, and Judd Nelson round out what can safely be called one of the stranger casts in cinematic history.
As for the strangest member of that cast, Orson Welles does not seem to have been very proud of his work. Film historian Joseph McBride quotes Welles saying of his participation: "I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I'm destroyed." He needn't have been quite so dismissive. Welles' voice was apparently so weak by the time he made his recording that technicians needed to run it through a synthesizer to salvage it. But listen closely as the ruthless Unicron explains his plan to bring the universe to its knees. I swear you can almost hear a younger Welles, plotting his conquest of a different world as the imperious Charles Foster Kane.


to quote stan lee ..

'nuff said


Last edited by on Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

Post  The Master on Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:18 pm

didn't someone post this recently? And I quoted Welles about the film? "a 90 minute add for toy robots that do horrible things to each other" or something he said?

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Re: Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

Post  Bad Wolf on Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:47 pm

no one posted this here, other than what i just did

my point and overall complaint with the new TF movie is:
(see highlights in bold)

Bay's new Transformers is fun in its own goofy way, and there are
enough sops to the fanboys that most will go home happy. Peter Cullen
reprises his role as the voice of Optimus Prime, and the screenwriters
manage not one but two invocations of the immortal phrase "more than
meets the eye."But there's nothing even approaching the original's
narrative depth
. The good guys beat the bad guys, and no one we care
about is harmed in the process—the movie hasn't succeeded in making us
care about anyone. Prime comes across as a stand-up guy, but we have no
real sense of Megatron's motivations or of Starscream's ambition
.
Bumblebee, the robot we spend the most time with in the movie, doesn't
get a speaking part until the penultimate scene. The high-octane
violence and PG-13 attentions lavished on Megan Fox's torso may attract
some new young fans, but in the end Bay's Transformers feels timid
compared with the 1985 version
.

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Re: Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

Post  The Master on Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:31 pm

Hmm.... well... it is rushed abit and it does leave alot of unanswered questions... still an enjoyable 2 hours....

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Re: Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

Post  Bad Wolf on Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:12 pm

my issue is

other than throw Transformers in to the mainstream media,
what did Bay do for Transformers ?
He certainly didnt invent Transformers. I am not saying that it sux becuz its not G1 or G2 or RID or Energon or any of that.
I am saying that a better director who takes in to account ALL of the information, mythos and what not could do a better job.
I have seen many of movies made by Bay.
Bay doesnt get it. Transformers is about The Transformers, not the humans they happend to stumble accros

Concept images aside, i am not loosing any sleep due to how the robots
look ... Bay did not put the "character" into the robots. To him (Bay)
they (the TFs) were just robots. secondary players in a "human" story.

Thats just wrong.

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Re: Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

Post  The Master on Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:04 pm

Hmm... can't disagree it was abit more human based then it should have been.

Its hard though, to try and find that balance, they can't make it out of the old shows, and really I'd rather they don't G1 is a mess history wise, but making a new universe is harder then it looks. I do agree it should have been more bot based, and I do admit Budget is why it wasn't. It should have been like 35 minutes of Spike using bumblebee to get that girl that isn't carly, and the rest shoulda been big killer robots fighting. But, moneywise that would have been insane. i'm looking forward to 2 now, bigger budget, more bots and cons, more asskicking.... have faith and look at the work, instead of the person making it.... and have faith in speilberg and lucas...

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Re: Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

Post  Bad Wolf on Tue Jul 03, 2007 11:18 pm

No mmmmm my faith says they'll sell us down the river for sure
in marketing and mass advertising and product placement over the next
2 1/2 to 3 years

im sorry hon .. i have really tried to like this movie
i really really have ... from the prequel comics to the movie adaptation
i LOVE the ideas that are coming from the new desing concepts ... tee hee wait till you see my newest upgrade to the 'ol fan character

i just cant get over that at the end of the day it was just
an action flick that highlighted giant robots (and dont forget .. chicks dig giant robots ^^) .. but thats not Transformers

sigh

Crying or Very sad

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Re: Transformers the Moive [ 03July07 ]

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