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'Transformers' provoke unexpected variety of rapture

Blogospheric commentators do formal cinematic criticism and just let fly with off-the-chain gushing normally seen in 12-year-old boys.

Bumblebee Transformer
Bumblebee Transformer

The new Transformers movie has inspired a surprising degree of lyricism and detailed cinematic analysis for what is, in most respects, a kids' movie about giant robots. Blogospheric commentators used the language of formal cinematic criticism or just let fly with off-the-chain gushing normally seen in 12-year-old boys. In particular, scroll down for the entry from a self-styled "film theologian" who offers his exegesis on parallels between the movie and the scriptural Book of Kings.

Everyone seems to agree that the CGI sets a new record in coolness, the action sequences are numerous and fast-moving, and the new incarnations of the '80s toys trend are, if not completely faithful to the original, a valiant and skillful reinterpretation.

Optimus Prime, the Autobots' leader (i.e. head good guy), apparently stood in for many a boy-child's father figure back in the day--a mighty, noble and nurturing leader with a gigantic, resonant baritone, reflecting tender guidance and rousing the troops to success in battle. In an hour or more of surveying the blogosphere, we found unanimous support for the decision to cast Peter Cullen, who voiced Prime in the early television series.

Check out some of CNET's other Transformers coverage: a photo gallery of related GM vehicles and Hasbro toys, and remarks on exactly how rockin' the toys are.

Ladies and gentlemen, the bloggers:

"Visually, it practically melts your eyeballs. The computer graphics were astonishing, with nearly photo-realistic Autobots and Decepticons that seamlessly integrated with the actors and backgrounds. ... Industrial Light and Magic, who handled the Transformer graphics and whose processing and data storage capabilities were reportedly taken to their limits by the task, certainly earned their paycheck.

Later on in the film, the giant robot-on-robot battles are awe-inspiring- or rather, they would have been, if the camera had been pulled back about 20 feet and kept still for all of 2 seconds. It's almost a shame, as all that hard work was spent on rendering these amazing robots and the director almost seemed to be going out of his way to make them impossible to see in action."
--Long Island Exchange

"When it comes to the eye-absorbing detail, the digital camerawork was too fast. ...With so much detail for the eye to absorb, the camera should slow down a bit. Things happen so fast that the eye can't perceive it, so the brain can't absorb it. This causes the effect of, "Damn, that looked cool, but what the (expletive deleted) just happened?" Two Transformers fighting just becomes a blur..."

"I remembered the story in 2 Kings 6, where a servant to the prophet Elisha wakes up to find their city surrounded by a powerful army. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answers. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." In this case, God opens the eyes of the servant who saw "the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." This look at the real world undoubtedly changed his life and perspective, the realization that the real conflict, unveiled, was far more wondrous and mysterious than he suspected.

To be frank, a hog-nosed Semi truck with painted flames is FAR less wondrous than a heavenly army, even if it DOES transform into a giant robot with a voice like Abraham Lincoln meets John Wayne. Still, I think the idea of these "robots in disguise" intrigues us because it's a little flicker of our metanarrative, in disguise."
--Cinemagogue (Pastor James Harleman)