Written by Ryan Yzquierdo
February 13th, 2007Ok, where to begin? As many of you know, I've been a pretty big naysayer about a variety of issues regarding the upcoming Transformers Movie. Most of my concerns have revolved around the designs of the robots. While I still think the look of Megatron and Starscream is pretty bad, other characters such as Blackout, Barricade and Bumblebee are saving my overall opinion. The leaked script that I read during August 2006 is actually a big part of what started to turn me around about the movie. While I think it's great that Transformers "transform", I've always been more interested in the story behind the Autobots and the Decepticons. I found the script interesting, entertaining, compelling, emotional and true to an alien invasion of Transformers robots coming to Earth. While I found the script up to par, I still had my reservations about the movie.Until tonight.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...Event IntroductionLet me rewind by about 6 hours. Tonight was the big event that truly brought me from Chicago to a fun-filled weekend in New York that just happened to intentionally coincide with Toy Fair 2007. The event was located at the Walter Reade Theatre on 165 W 65th St in New York city, on the northside of Manhattan and east of Central Park (near WABC's studios). The doors to the event opened at 5:45.Upon entrance to the event, I had begun to immediately feel underdressed in my black pants and button up shirt. It had become obvious very quickly that the event wasn't designed to cater to guys who run major Transformers fan websites. Regardless that I was missing the attire that most were wearing, I quickly saw some familiar faces from Hasbro, Hunter PR and, of course, several key people within the Transformers hobby.The walls of the front rooms to the theatre were decorated with various Transformers Movie posters, most of which prominently featured the Autobot and Decepticon symbols. The cardboard cutouts of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee were near the place where we checked in our coats. The 4 primary products featured at Toy Fair (Optimus Prime helmet, arm blaster, Leader class figure and Ultimate Bumblebee) were also on display. I expressed to Aaron Archer that I thought the Bumblebee figure was excellent. He seemed to be really proud of the figure. I got the same sense from Brian Goldner during a brief conversation with him at Hasbro's Toy Fair event this past Saturday.The staff of theatre people operating the theatre were all dressed in black Autobot and Decepticon t-shirts. It was pretty cool to see all of these people wearing Transformers shirts ... and we weren't even at a BotCon or comic book convention. The staff of people handing out drinks had black Autobot and Decepticon napkins which several of us kept as souveniers.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...After a few drinks, we started moving into the theatre to view the presentation. I sat next to Tony Bacala (tfw2005.com) and Rick Alvarez, one row above Brian Savage and one row below Kevin and Jason Lukis (unicron.com). Ben Yee (bwtf.com) was there also but I'm not sure where he sat at the event. I'm assuming that most of the people who were in the theatre were executives of various companies or worked for Hasbro, Hunter PR, Paramount, Dreamworks or various retail chains (the CEO of Toys R Us was apparently there).Brian Goldner (Hasbro - CEO) took the stage once everyone was in the theatre. He made several comments about the Transformers franchise before making some introductions. I missed the name of one of the people who were on the stage. Tom DeSanto was present, but not on the stage. Brian Goldner was joined by Adam Goodman (Dreamworks), Wayne (didn't catch his last name) and, of course, Michael Bay (Director). Here are some of the things that were said about the Transformers Movie prior to playing the 4 different scenes:
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...This movie will be "Revolutionary" in the same sense of the Matrix trilogy starring Keanu Reeves from Warner Brothers.I wrote down in my notes: "Robots in Disguise". If I recall correctly, Brian Goldner was talking about how the movie really plays up the aspect of the Transformers being "robots in disguise." While this might not seem like an important part to some of you, it really is the key idea behind the Transformers. The ability to infiltrate society as everyday objects, cars and planes is what makes the Transformers so unique.[You will be] blown away.Transformers is a 3 billion dollar brand behind Star Wars and G.I.Joe. I was surprised to hear that Transformers makes less money than G.I.Joe but this might have something to do with Hasbro's brand sharing with Takara Tomy.The Transformers Movie is one of the few original franchise flicks that will be released in 2007. Mentioned other franchise films such as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man and several others.For Dreamworks, this movie will be bigger than War of the Worlds and Mission Impossible 3 (both movies starred Tom Cruise). The Transformers Movie will be a worldwide event.Shia Lebeouf (Sam Witwicky) was compared to a "young Tom Hanks".The scenes that were previewed were "most ready to show but not finished." This meant that there was temporary sound, music and animation still in place in the scenes that we saw.Mentioned that this movie harkens back to the fun days of Steven Spielberg's Back To The Future and other Amblien movies from the 1980s.Really stressed that Steven Spielberg is a really big fan of the Transformers and was familiar with the comics and toys from when his kids were into the Transformers during the 80s. For those of you who saw Spielberg's message on the TransformersLive.com website about 1.5 to 2 years ago, it seemed like this was a rehash of things that Spielberg himself said in that video clip.Michael Bay stated that this has been a really fun movie to work on. He really seemed to have enjoyed his time with this movie. He told us some about the origin of him getting involved with the movie. His initial reaction was that he didn't want to be involved with a toy movie to "how can I find out more about this franchise" in about 30 seconds.I read in some of the existing reviews of this event that people quoted Bay as saying it took 38 hours to render 1 frame of film. I wrote in my notes that it was 38 hours to render 1 second of film. I don't know if I misheard or what, but that's what was in my notes. I'm sure we'll find out clarification at a later date.I think it was Bay who said that the movie was "mind blowing." It was also said that the film was ILM's "heaviest digital effects ever." Considering their work on Star Wars, I find this hard to believe but after the full sophisticated transformation of Blackout, I could see how it was more complex than just rendering a shell of a ship (for example).
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...Descriptions of Movie ScenesThere were a total of 4 scenes previewed at the event. If you do not want to read any spoilers, please do not read any futher. Here are my notes and thoughts on the scenes that were previewed:Qatar 1: Blackout Transforms and Attacks!The tension that builds up to Blackout's transformation (not to mention my anticipation) was excellent. The execution of this entire scene was very well done.I noticed the Hewlett Packard logo on a couple of products in this scene. Knowing how movies work these days, I'm sure this was a coincidence. I think we can add Hewlett Packard (HP) to the list of official movies sponsors alongside Pepsi and Burger King.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...Josh Duhamel (Las Vegas) and Tyrese Gibson (Four Brothers, 2 Fast 2 Furious) were both prominently featured in this scene. Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break, Mr 3000) was also in this scene. It was a running joke during his scenes that he was always speaking Spanish.Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) speaks with his wife over a video phone. His wife recently had a baby during Duhamel's tour of duty. There's some fun cutesy comments shared between the couple. I'm assuming the video connection was lost during the couple's conversation thanks to Blackout's EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) deployment.During Blackout's transformation, the original transformation was used briefly during one part of his transformation. I am assuming this is one of the temporary sounds that were mentioned in the introduction. It sounded out of place and much louder than the other transformation sounds. As much as I love the old school transofrmation sound, I would prefer it to be more realistic ... kind of like a cross between the "whirring" sound from Beast Wars when the Maximals and Predacons transformed. The actual sound of the transformation that was used throughout the rest of Blackout's transformation sounded more like I would expect: metal moving against metal, parts moving and shifting.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...Blackout's transformation was more complex than I would have imagined. This was a big area of concern for me originally. I was worried that the robots were going to have parts that "morphed." I was reassured by seeing an actual Blackout truly "transform" from a helicopter to a robot. I couldn't believe the complexity of his transformation on screen. It was unbelievable and much longer than I was expecting. If I recall correctly, Blackout is the first Transformer to transform in the movie. It was everything I could have hoped to see a helicopter transform for the first time on the big screen. It was absolutely amazing and even gave me chills while I saw this incredible event happen.When Scorponok "ejected" from Blackout's helicopter mode, there was a round of applause.Sam's "first" encounter with MikealaSam is being ridiculed by Mikeala's (Megan Fox) boyfriend, who is a Football jock, and his friends.Bumblebee is the 1974 Camaro at this point in the movie.There's an air freshener in the shape of a cartoonish bee hanging from Bumblebee's rear view mirror. The air freshener says "Bee-Otch" underneath the image of the bee. The crowd chuckled/laughed during this scene.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...Mikeala's boyfriend comes across as the stereotypical tool of a Football jock. He kind of reminded me of a modern "Biff" from the first Back to the Future.Sam or his friend said "Bros before hoes." while Sam's buddy was getting kicked out of the car in favor of the opportunity to take Mikeala home.Bumblebee breaks down near this make-out place where couples park their car. I believe the spot overlooks a cliff or something like that.Mikeala and Sam get out of the car to look at Bumblebee's engine. Mikeala starts speaking car talk with Sam who tries to follow the conversation. It's obvious that she knows more about cars than he does. She comments on how her boyfriend is intimidated by her knowledge of cars.Mikeala determines that she can't fix the car, so she starts to walk away saying something like "she can walk home faster than this.". Bumblebee's engine magically roars to life after a plea from Sam. "Baby Come Back" starts playing on the radio. Everyone in the crowd laughed. I think general audiences will really enjoy the music references from the mute Bumblebee. It's a clever plot device that I think will bring about an enjoyable light-hearted feeling to many people. The use of classic songs from the 70s and 80s that most people are familiar with will also be key to everyone's enjoyment of the movie.Sam and Mikeala at the Witwickys' houseI believe all 5 Autobots were in this scene (Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Ironhide and Jazz) who took Spike (Sam, yes, his name is "Sam" in this movie. I hope he becomes codenamed "Spike" at some point.) and Mikeala to the Witwickys' house.Sam was looking for his grandfather's glasses (Archibald Witwicky is his grandfather's name) which have the code from the AllSpark encoded onto the glasses if I remember the script correctly.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...While Sam was desperately searching his room for the pair of glasses, Optimus Prime lifts Mikeala up to Sam's window with the palm of his hand.Sam tells Mikeala that he can't find the glasses. They argue back and forth about who should go tell the alien robots that they can't find what they're looking for.Optimus Prime does have a mouth in this scene. While I can't really remember what his mouth looked like in this scene, it reminded me of a really detailed version of Masterpiece Convoy / Optimus Prime's mouth when you removed the toy's face shield. It was very alien looking just like the rest of the Transformers faces. It will take some time getting used to it though I imagine Optimus Prime will mostly have the face shield based on all of the marketing pieces that I've seen so far. I didn't really like it but I knew it was going to happen. It's better for live film (the same reason why Cybertron Optimus Prime and Beast Wars Optimus Primal had mouths.There was only one line that I caught as sounding like Peter Cullen. It honestly sounded like a filler voice to me during the scene but everyone I asked about it said that it was indeed Cullen. Apparently, Cullen was talking quietly or whispering to keep quiet during this scene so that could be part of why it didn't sound like the Optimus Prime that I'm used to hearing. Generally, Optimus Prime is "commanding" the Autobots, which he definitely wasn't doing in this scene.I especially liked the scene where Sam was attempting to keep the Autobots quiet. The mute Bumblebee acknowledged Sam's request by holding his index finger up to his face.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...It was pretty humorous when the Autobots transformed into car mode to "hide". This is a great example of the Autobots not always being able to pull off being "robots in disguise" which I appreciated as a fan. Sam commented on how transforming into car mode while still on the lawn wasn't "hiding". It was a pretty humorous scene that the audience seemed to genuinely enjoy.The Autobots seemed very "real", which I guess is the main objective. This is one of the things that really seemed to gain my interest and trust in what the movie folks are doing with the Transformers property. If they can convince me, one of the most die-hard Transformers fans ever, then I think they've done their job regardless if I feel like the robots could've benefited from better designs in robot mode.One of the Autobots almost step's on the Witwicky's Chihauhau. The dog retaliates by peeing on Ironhide's foot. The Autobot turns his weapon on the dog which causes Sam to flip out.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...Sector Seven, lead by John Turturro's character, arrives at the Witwicky's house who want to take Sam with them once they find out he's covered with "isotopes" (??? can't remember if that was the term used) from being around the Transformers. Determine he's had physical contact with them. Sam's father, Ron, tries to prevent them from taking Sam with them. From reading the script, I can tell you that Ron and his wife (can't remember her name offhand) were unsuccessful in their attempt.Someone refers to the Witwicky's dog as a Taco Bell dog ... I think it was one of the Sector Seven guys.Ratchet trips over some power lines while trying to leave the scene quietly so as not to alert Sector Seven. Ratchet's line that he says after falling was originally supposed to be a line Jazz says from the February 2006 script.The Transformers seemed very real and despite some of their odd faces, they seemed to be able to express emotions just fine. Kudos to ILM for being able to pull that off with these designs.Qatar 2: Scorponok Attacks!This scene was shown as an encore, thanks to Brian Goldner.There's a humorous scene during Scorponok's attack of Captain Lennox trying to get a Middle-Eastern Operator to connect him to the Pentagon. Lennox obtained the phone from a civilian. The operator was trying to get Captain Lennox to use a credit card number when he obviously didn't have access to one during the middle of a battle.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...Jon Voight appears briefly during this scene at the Pentagon.While Scorponok was one of my least favorite characters from the movie roster, I have to admit that watching him "slither" mechanically in and out of the desert sand was pretty damn cool. Scorponok is really little more than a plot device to show off a pretty cool desert battle scene but it appears they succeeded in coming up with a compelling action sequence that is sure to please audiences.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...The humans attack Scorponok with an onslaught of weapons. The humans are eventually successful in forcing Scorponok to retreat. Part of Scorponok is left behind which will be used as a plot device during a later scene in the movie.For whatever reason, I don't remember as much about this scene as I do the others. It seems like it was pretty action intense. It was just an all-around incredible action sequence.My Thoughts on the Sneak PeakAfter the event, a group of us were gathered near the coat check toward the front of the building. I talked to Paula Walsh (Hasbro's Public Relations Director) for a little bit. Brian Goldner joined the group to ask a few of us what we thought. I said "Remember that little Transformers 101 stunt from my website?" everyone kind of chuckles nervously, not sure where I'm going with that comment. "Let's just say that tonight was Transformers 102 and it was MY turn to get schooled." Everyone in the group laughed and I felt a lot better after acknowledging the Transformers 101 thing directly to Brian. No hard feelings, right?
The Transformers Movie reminds me most of Independence Day (ID4). It doesn't seem to have the stupid slapstick humor that I didn't find appealing in Armageddon but it does retain some of the classic humor that Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum demonstrated in Indepence Day as well as Bruce Willis and Ben Afleck in Michael Bay's Armaggedon. It's not Steve Buscemi type humor.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...The action seems very similar to Indepence Day (ID4 - Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum). ID4 is one of my all-time favorite movies so I'm pretty pleased with this direction. The scenes were absolutely incredible, the transformation of Blackout was fascinating and spectacular, and the mood was exactly what I was hoping for in the movie. I still think some of the robot designs could have used some improvements to be more reminiscent of the original characters but it's too late for that now. From what I've seen and from the version of the script that I've read, I think ILM has done a top notch job with bringing Transformers to life. The robots are designed to look like REAL Transformers, not computer animated or cell animated or toys for that matter. I think this goal was accomplished.I've read that a few people out there were questioning if Hasbro/Paramount/Dreamworks "bought out" some of the outspoken people such as myself who attended this event. If getting to see a sneak peak of the movie so that I can share my thoughts with all of the fans of my website constitutes as being "bought out", then that's what happened. I think their main objective was to give some key people in the Transformers hobby a taste of what Hasbro/Paramount/Dreamworks have been seeing so that we could share that with you. It's a little different to hear the opinion of a die-hard fan like myself and not from someone who's officially involved with the movie. I saw it. I got it. It's going to be a spectacular summer blockbuster that most of us should enjoy. Ben Yee (bwtf.com), Kevin Lukis (unicron.com), Jason Lukis (unicron.com), Rick Alvarez (Transformers Collector's Club, etc), Tony Bacala (tfw2005.com) and myself all seemed to genuinely enjoy the movie. If I can look past some of the robot designs that I don't really like and was able to thoroughly enjoy myself while I watched the scenes that I saw, then I'm pretty confident that most of you will be able to enjoy the movie as well.
Click here to view screen captures from the trailer ...The Transformers Movie is going to be a very solid action flick that audiences worldwide will thoroughly enjoy. If you're a fan that is really against this movie, all that I ask is that you see the movie at least once with an open mind. You know the movie is going to be different. If you can accept the Transformers Movie for what it is, I'm pretty confident that you'll find yourself having a great time with the rest of the audience.Stay tuned to Seibertron.com for all of the latest news regarding the Transformers Movie. I'll see you in theatres starting July 4th, 2007!Sincerely,
Seibertron.comOther LinksTransformers Movie - Official WebsiteTransformers Movie News on Seibertron.comTransformers Movie Toy GalleriesTransformers Movie Trailer Screen CapturesUnicron.com's Preview ReviewBen Yee's Preview Reviewtfw2005.com's Preview ReviewTFormers.com's Preview Review