Saturday, May 8, 2010

Transformers: It's About More Than Just Toys

[originally written for on 4/7/07]

This is in response to a review of Transformers posing the question, “Can Hollywood aim lower?” Short response: fuck you, guy.

It’s more than a little easy for some cynical reviewer to call the Transformers movie a big toy commercial, but then again, so was every cartoon ever. Some of the most beloved cartoons of our childhood are just glorified toy ads: M.A.S.K., GI Joe, Centurions, and the most egregious of them all, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m not saying this was a bad thing. Most ads are 30-60 seconds and have little to no character development. If a toy company was to commission a TV series with deep story lines and characters I will come to care about, more power to them.

These shows did more than fire up our wallets, they fired up our imaginations. Most of the TMNT characters showed up on the back of the toy boxes way before they showed up on the cartoon. While we waited for Panda Khan to show up on the show, we integrated him into the ninja adventure we came up with in the back woods. I think I was the luckiest kid of them all. No one but me wanted to be Raphael, so I always had a big role in the game.

The Transformers movie isn’t catering to a lowest common denominator, it’s fulfilling a long-standing dream shared by millions of now grown up kids. I wanted to see a live-action X-Men my whole life, and when those movies came out, I was thrilled beyond belief. Now that we have the technology, we can render our 2-dimensional childhood memories into 3-dimensional realities. My love of Transformers has little to do with the sweet-ass toy line. It has everything to do with wanting to see realistically rendered robots turning into shit, then back into robots.

I say, go further, Hollywood. Let’s see a Voltron movie, a Thundercats movie, a Silver Hawks movie. The ‘80s brought us come of the best cartoons of all time, and we want to revisit every single one of them as a live-action movie. Some of these shows are timeless, so let’s put a modern twist on them and bring them all back. If the companies can churn a product-tie profit, power to them. Me, I’m just going to spend $20.75 to see it in theatres, then spend $29.99 on the DVD. And if they make a sequel, I’ll do it again.

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