"Transformers" or: The art of showing nothing

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Source: FlickrI’m a little behind with most blockbuster movies (see my pretty recent discovery of Lord of the Rings) so tonight I watched Transformers on DVD. Usually I would prefer watching it on the big screen, but it’s different with Michael Bay movies. “The Island” was the first movie ever where I had to leave the cinema for a few minutes because the picture really made me feel dizzy and sick during the action scenes in the second half.
I feel the same now I finished watching “Transformers” although it’s not as strong (I think that’s because of the smaller screen g).

My opinion is as follows: Michael Bay movies tend to be based largely on action. That’s a fact I think everybody agrees upon. Therefore the story cues are usually bundled up to packages of 10 minutes and put in somewhere between the action scenes. As most geeks in my age I’ve watched the tv shows (actually all the toy advertisement shows that were running in the Nineties, of course not realizing the ad part until a later age) and they tend to have the same structure, also starting and finishing off with an action sequence. There are too many characters in the movie and although the humans are there for identification they didn’t make me care for them as much as the robots. And in the end I felt like something was missing. I guess you could have done something much more profound in a motion picture and so the story is imho not so great. But here’s the weird part: The action isn’t too. Because you actually can’t see it. That’s what makes me feel sick, the pictures are cut so ridiculously quickly that I realized you cannot see anything really. Whenever you see some robot being hit, tranforming, breaking or something alike the camera angle, speed and the length of the cut make it impossible to grasp the visual information presented so it becomes noise, at least for me. It may actually depend on my very viewing habits, but it makes you feel disoriented and in fact I mostly only realized what happened afterwards. Which makes the whole experience a bit disappointing.

Thinking about it I realize that it might become a trend to waste good visual effects (or probably bad visual effects, you can’t really tell) by actually not exposing them. My favourite movies of the last years all manage to present the visuals in a way you actually get much information of any picture and you can even find more if you watch it a few times. Star Wars, The Matrix, Lord of the Rings or (as a classic) Blade Runner all invested massive work in the visual fx and they show it off. Plus they all have great story moments. I’m not sure I will watch “Transformers” again (as there are no good story moments I like, even the love scenes seemed a bit off) but maybe something like that would happen, too. It’s a long way of saying I didn’t like the film to much but I wanted to make it clear, that it’s for a reason.

I’m feeling much better now so I’m going to eat something.

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