Transformers 3

Action movies are my favorite. The only way they get better is if they feature fantastic aliens/science fiction premise. So a movie like Transformers 3 is right up my alley. And I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

Fair warning, from here on out, there will be real spoilers (not just hints) because I will talk about the movie.

Transformers 3 begins fairly slowly and focuses more than the story needs to on Sam Witwicky’s job issues. The whole FBI searching for him (from the earlier movies) keeps most employers from hiring him. Which is assists in setting the story, but I just wanted to get to the Transformer fight scenes.

Which are worth the price of admission, if you’re a fan of crisp, engaging, easy to follow fights. There were a few unnecessary slow shots, but not enough to take away from the experience. Overall the fight scenes were excellent. Apparently the film-makers heard the complaints about muddled fight scenes from Transformers 2 and adjusted accordingly. Being able to watch them over and over will be a significant draw to owning the movie when it’s released on DVD.

And there’s also a story. It hangs together fairly well (better than the second movie), and does some things fantastically well, but there are several significant holes.

What I really liked (besides the fights):

The African-American characters who were emphasized on camera, even down to the 3rd level, lived. Action movies, particularly science fiction, kill off the non-white characters almost as soon as they’re introduced. But Transformers 3 doesn’t do that. Some of the characters are from the first 2 movies, but even the ones introduced in this movie make it through the end with minimal injuries. And the fact made me appreciate the movie a bit more.

The girl isn’t completely worthless! Helpless women make movies and television shows more appealing based on the number of women who can’t seem to do anything to assist in ensuring their own survival, much less anyone else’s. So when the girlfriend in the movie actually does something to help out, I love it. If she’s the main character, she can usually take care of herself and the world, such as Laura Croft in the Tomb Raider movies, but generally the character who is only there to function as a love interest and point of drama for the main male character can only scream when her shadow appears. Here, the girl is written as a capable counterpoint to Sam. She goes along with the demands when the odds are against her, but she fights back, both physically and cunningly, when she has the chance. Green Lantern also featured a smart, non-lead female character, which I hope signals a trend away from the helpless woman in action movies.

The writing was entertaining. There were a number of funny lines in the movie, and most of the audience laughed. Many of the lines were funniest if you paid attention to history or paid attention to the earlier films. I don’t expect much from action film writing, and I’m not saying it changed my life, but the writing was a fun, unexpected perk added to an entertaining movie.

Remaining questions:

Sam is forced to wear a watch that spies on everyone, but the Autobots never call him out on it or make him admit the fact. Sam’s spying just kind of disappears as a non-story. If you’re going to build betrayal into the plot, why not make the kid actually have to cop to it? It may serve as a foil to the larger betrayal of Optimus Prime by his mentor Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy!!!! I totally geeked out), but if that was the intent, the attempt is one of the weakest I’ve encountered because Sentinel is held accountable and Witwicky just keeps trying to help out in the background. The lack of accountability in betrayal stories annoys me whenever it shows up, which plays into the fact that I noticed it here.

Sam’s parents show up toward the beginning, and other than providing more comedy to the movie, they don’t really serve a purpose. Their appearance hits on his joblessness again, but serves no real other purpose since we don’t even see them at the end.

I’m also not entirely sure why there were weird jump cuts in the middle of the movie. I supposed the 3 times the screen blacked out and opened in a different place could have been theater issues. And they served to cut the transition times in those places. But they felt awkward and unnecessary in at least 1 spot. If you watch the movie, and there aren’t any jump cuts, would you let me know? Then I can chat with the theater and ask what happened.

Overall the questions I have didn’t interfere significantly with my enjoyment of the film. I had a fun time and enjoyed watching this latest installment of the franchise. I loved playing with Transformers when I was little, so the movies have always been a treat. And since this one feels like they’ve resolved all the causes of tension in the world of the movies, I’m content with this one being the final if they aren’t planning on making any more. I just hope (if they decided to make another movie) they start with more confident Sam from the end of this movie and move on from super whiny Sam.