Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Movie Review: Transmorphers

Have you ever been in a video store and come across a movie that looked so devastatingly god awful that you knew from the moment you cast eyes upon it that you absolutely must watch it? That's what happened to me a couple weeks ago when I was finding myself disinterested in the selection of new releases I hadn't seen and ran across this rare gem amongst the titles. Much the same as when I happened across Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys, this one made me snort out a chortle of laughter. However, unlike Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys, it turned out to be not nearly as comedically effective.

I'm no fool when it comes to really bad movies. I automatically knew what the producers of this cinematic vision were trying to do, namely cash in on the hype of the theatrical release of the live-action major motion picture summer blockbuster Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg being released today in theaters all over the country, in hopes that there might be a few people so caught up in the fan frenzy to honestly believe that their long-anticipated movie was somehow released to DVD before it's theatrical run. I wasn't fooled, though. Granted the box art was catchy and the robots are similar to Michael Bay's version of the Autobots and Decpticons, and granted the lettering of the title was similiar enough in color and font to that of the theatrical Transformers movie to make a coworker I showed it to exclaim in astonishment, "How is this even possible?" until I pointed out that it's "Transmorphers." Still, even though I recognized right away that it was the Big Lots! cheap foreign knock-off version of the Transformers movie, I knew right away that I absolutely had to see it. I knew it would be too hilariously inept to possibly pass up.

To say that Transmorphers is a bad movie would be akin to saying that Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys was an artistically engaging cinematic masterpiece. Transmorphers was bad in ways that made Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys positively enjoyable. Unlike Puppet Master Vs. Demonic Toys, Transmorphers wasn't so bad it was easy to make fun of. To the contrary, Transmorphers was so bad it was boring. Sitting through a showing of Transmorphers would make even the most casual Transformers fan wish that Hasbro could release a figure of Megatron in his classic gun mode just so it could be modified with a small nuclear reactor to make it easier to blast himself in the eyeball with a fusion cannon. If you think that's just a tad dramatic, then you simply have not seen Transmorphers, poser.

The equivalent to "acting" on Transmorphers is so deadpan that when I checked out the IMDb page to find some more background information on it, I scrolled down to the bottom and discovered that IMDb recommended for people who "enjoyed this title," I swear I am not making this up, The 9/11 Commission Report. That's right. The "acting" in this movie is so bad that it's on par with Congressmen dictating their findings in the September 11th investigation, but then I think to say that would be an insult to the emotionless reading of montonous preports by the uncharimsatic politicians in the Report. Make no mistake, these "actors," (the most notable among them being Amy Weber's robotic clone), are not so much "acting" as they are just reciting their lines like third grade Bible school memory work. They literally delivered as much emotion with each scene as the hypothetical love-child of Data and Seven of Nine after having been raised by the Microsoft Windows error box.


The story takes place in a not-too-distant future Earth after having been invaded by morphing alien robots for apparently no reason what-so-ever. I never really have understood why, in movies like this Terminator or The Matrix, the Machines always take over the planet seemingly with the sole purpose of destorying it. The Machines always talk about how much better they are than humans, and how much society would be better if they took over, but whenever they do manage to take over, all they end up doing is walking around some torched and obliterated war zone shooting at nothing and blowing stuff up. In this movie in particular, the humans had to move underground and set up a new society that the machines are trying apathetically to reach because we have never seen this plot device before. Of course the humans are fighting back, primarily by ignoring the robots attacking them and somehow managing to not ever die, no matter how much you secretly want them to.

The humans need to capture one of the Machines alive to remove its power pack so they can upload it into the robots' stronghold for some reason I don't quite understand, but it's apparently the only way they can destroy them, so they enlist the only rogue soldier to ever be able to defeat the robots and therefore was sentenced to cyrogenic sleep for one hundred years. Despite deep animosities between this rogue soldier and the high command, they quickly decide to do whatever he asks them to and he can do whatever he wants with no reprocussions. I have no idea how or why everyone's attitude toward him changed, but I'm assuming it is to be found somewhere in the dialog which was painful to watch and actually missing in some parts. The robots' main stronghold is stationed less than a football field's distance from the humans' main stronghold, yet the robots can't seem to locate the humans' stronghold, which shows you the level of threat the humans are facing from this apparent super-advanced race. I get a sneaking suspicion that the humans could go up to the robots' stronghold and throw rocks at them and they still would have no idea where the humans are. Despite the fact that the robots have taken over the entire planet, their main command center is no larger than an apartment complex and by taking it out, they kill every single robot all over the planet. You'd think the robots would have thought to decentralize their dominion across a planet that spans 510,065,600 square kilometers, but that would make too much sense and the action in the movie couldn't conveniently take place in less than a mile radius.

In this vision of the future, human beings have grown so politically correct that everyone is regarded in the masculine, both males and females. When the council first addressed the female senator, (who bore a passing resemblance to Hilary Clinton), as "Sir," much to her seeming disdain, I first thought it was a goof, but then I realized that it was what IMDb would label "incorrectly regarded as a goof," because all women were referred to as "sir" or "he" or "him," which leads the viewer to much confusion. Apparently the characters too, because this gender confusion has apparently led to a marked rise in homosexuality strictly amongst the women, forcing the men to have no alternative to copulate with androids. I certanly hope you weren't expecting the men to be forced to have sex with each other, because that would be "gay."

So aside from the fact that in this artist's vision of the future, gender equality and feminism has pretty much just become an outlet for the sordid lust of chauvenistic men, this movie lacks so much of what has made Transformers, or any sort of science fiction, really, memorable for many decades now. There's no socio-political relevance in this movie. They didn't even take the time to develop characters that the viewer could care for or relate to. There are no warring factions of robots — one that cares for humanity and one that wants to destroy it; all of the robots in this movie are the villains, and they're all mindlessly dull. These robots are so devoid of personality that they make the Endoskeletons in the future scenes of the Terminator series veritible thespians in comparison, but the only characters more devoid of personality than the robots are the humans, who in terms of charismatic appeal rate somewhere between watching poop fossilize and listening to Stephen Hawking deliver a report from the Senate Fidiciary Committe auditing the appropriation of federal highway funds for 2006.

The special effects were bad in a way that is not in any way funny. They aren't bad in the sense of a baby doll propelling itself through the air by the power of its own intestinal gas. There are very glaring errors all over the place that indicate the director didn't give the smallest amount of a shit and likely told the special effects crew that they weren't getting paid directly before setting them on the task. The robots blended in with their background as well as Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? except there it was expected for the cartoon characters to not look realistic. Not only did they not blend in, but they often would walk across the wrong spots of the screen, such as in the air or across a the middle of a building. For such advanced technological beings, they also aimed their weaponry as expertly as the characters in GI Joe, meaning the only way the robots could kill any of the humans was through a "brain scan" which would affect a large population of one human at the same time. There were also several scenes where people would be full-on running away from or to something and just sprawl backwards as if having been hit by an explosion or laser beam, only there would be no explosion or laser beam to have hit them. This provided the only bit of comic relief in the entire movie, and as far as anyone can tell, it was entirely unintentional. If it wasn't, then my hat's off to the director because I would totally put that type of Easter egg in a completely serious and grittily realistic movie like Saving Private Ryan or Beaches.

The sound was also obviously handled by the director's retarded half-brother or something because it would cut out in important places leading to conversations such as the one I'm approximating from memory here:

Guy: ". . . "
Girl: "But we could get tried for treason."
Guy: ". . ."
Girl: "You make a convincing argument. All right, I'll do it."
Guy: ". . ."
Girl: (Sighs) "Here, it's all I have." (Hands the guy three cigarettes.)
Guy: ". . ." (Kisses her.)
The whole time his lips are moving, but no sound is coming out. At first I thought maybe he was mouthing the words and she was lip-reading, but there were no references to that being a necessity, and if it was then why would she be vocalizing her response? The sound was also mismatched from the actors' mouths for a good third of the movie. An actor would get done saying a complete line, the camera would angle on the other actor, and then the lines would be delivered. Explosions detonated right next to characters we could hear clearly but would not make so much as a sound while they were summarily ignored by the characters who should at the least be knocked back by a concusive wall of flame, but we have characters in other scenes doing that for no reason whatsoever, so I suppose harmony is achieved.

Overall this was a dreadful "movie" and a horrible way to jizz into a napkin in time to try to cash in on the upcoming Transformers major motion picture. He obviously knew that if he wanted anyone to view his apocalyptic future vision, the only way he could guarantee it is to fool people's grandmothers into believing this is what their grandchildren meant by "Transformers." The video store had an entire row of this movie in stock, which just goes to show that people like to waste their money on stupid shit. The only life lesson I can fathom here is that if you see anything that has the phrase "A Leigh Scott film" slapped on it, not only should you not watch it, but you should probably burn it and the entire video store and nothing of value will be lost.
This is a picture of Leigh Scott, and quite frankly I'd rather watch a three-hour, black and white documentary featuring him sucking off an orangutang without sound than another of what he calls a movie.

np: King Crimson - "Fracture"

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