The FENX and The Autobots: Thoughts on Transformers: Dark of the Moon *minor spoilers ahead*

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Autobots wage their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Decepticons” – Transformers Theme

Those words, familiar to many a Transformer fan for nearly three decades, have never rung as true as they do in the case of the new Transformers movie, Transformer: Dark of the Moon. Of the three films, this is by far the darkest and most intense and the war between the Autobots and the tyranny of the Decepticons comes home in a big way. The last installment in the franchise was a disappointment and there was no doubt it had fallen from the great heights of the first film (even if I liked it more than most folks did). This movie redeems the franchise on many levels.

The film opens with vivid and fantastic scenes from the final days of the war on the Transformers’s home planet of Cybertron, detailing a failed mission that, if successful, would have allowed the Autobots to prevail against the Decepticons. The mission focuses on a secret ship that crash lands on Earth’s moon and NASA detects it. This sets off the “Space Race” between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960’s in an attempt to discover what happened. History goes forth, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin arrive on the moon on Apollo 11, but really to embark on a secret mission, wherein they discover the crashed Autobot vessel and special pods. Fast forward to present day and Sam Whitwicky is a recent college graduate living in DC with his girlfriend Carly (long gone is Megan Fox and her character) who previously worked at the British Embassy and now manages a car collection for a character played by Patrick Dempsey who functions as a foil for Sam on multiple levels. Sam is struggling to find both a job and himself, not understanding why after helping to discover the Transformers and save the world (twice) he can’t make something of himself; as Sam says “I just want to matter”

The Autobots are now working with the United States Spec. Ops. to quell conflicts around the world. During a secret mission to Chernobyl in Russia, the Autobots come across two nasty Decepticon baddies known as Shockwave (to whom Megatron entrusts Cybertron in the original cartoon from the 80’s) and Laserbeak, both on missions in Russia related to the moon crash. Meanwhile, Decepticon leader Megatron is in exile in Africa with his minions Starscream and Soundwave (now in vehicle form instead of the satellite from Transformers 2 and also the keeper of Laserbeak, much like Ravage – the panther – was his minion in Transformers 2). Once the Autobots learn of the existence of the crashed ship on the moon, from the real-life Buzz Aldrin, (Optimus berates the Obama Administration for their silence) and the survival of it’s captain – Sentinel Prime, the leader of the Autobots before Optimus – they travel to the moon to retrieve and revive him. With Sentinel revived, the movie really kicks into high gear and the remainder is a intense experience filled with heroes, villains, dark moments, and massive destruction that does not let up.

I really enjoyed the film and the places it take the audience (and the special effects were fantastic throughout). Bay really did work hard to redeem the franchise from the last outing, and there were a number of moments in which I honestly didn’t know if key characters would live or die (and not all of them make it through this film). Having grown up with the Transformers mythos and now gone through three movies, I love these heroes and to a degree the villains; in these characters there are no shades, it is good vs. evil – period. In a culture filled with anti-heroes and vampires-as-heroes I prefer this any day of the week. In a film like this the robots are the real stars and they shine through the massive action sequences. Megatron, Shockwave, Starscream, and Soundwave are true to their classic iterations and are as evil as ever, wanting nothing but power and subjugation through tyranny and fear. The Autobots seeks to preserve freedom and protect humanity from the Decepticons. In the same vein, the US Military (and America in general) is shown in a great light (which has some critics writhing) by way of Spec Ops and SEALS working with the Autobots to defeat the Decepticons and their human toadies.

One aspect that stuck out to me was the development of Sam’s character. His desire to matter, to stake his place in the world around him is something that come through loud and clear in this film and resonates; we all want to be worthy, we all want to be more than we are. It a classic theme seen in many stories and movies, seen in Star Wars, The Last Starfighter, Harry Potter, Green Lantern, Spiderman, and even Batman Begins to a degree. Everyone of us grapples with this in life at one time or another, and some more than others (certainly so if you try and live within and around the world of epic superheroes). It echo’s Bruce Wayne’s words, from Batman Begins: “It’s what I do that defines me”. The danger exists when “what can I do (for others)?” transforms into “what can I become (for my own sake)?” In this film, Sam makes the choice to put himself in harms way (for the sake of another) instead of unintentionally being a part of what happens, and danger ensues.

If you’re wavering as to seeing Transformers 3, don’t listen to the critics, go see it and make your own assessment.

On a personal note, when the production team was filming in DC last year, I took the FENX on a hunt for the Autobots one day and found them not too far from Chinatown. There before me was Optimus Prime in all his Autobot awesomeness and I am having to answer questions from others who wonder who/what I am and if I am part of the film. As it turns out one of the production managers in charge of the vehicles did admit that if the FENX had been in Transformers 3, Michael Bay would have wanted to blow it up.

Aaron

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s