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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bad Movie Showdown - Transformers 2 Vs. GI Joe

As stated elsewhere, when I travel I often dig up movies which I know The Girl won't object to me watching without her. This often requires lowering the quality bar to nearly subterranean heights. This last week saw Transformers 2 pitted against GI Joe.

Both flicks are derived from Hasbro toy lines, both were once long running cartoons which resulted in movie length features. They have established plots, backstories, and characters - all, of course, being pretty hokey and shallow ... but naturally the whole thing could use a touch up for modern audiences.

And to be fair, one of these is a sequel.

GI Joe
I had a huge Joe collection as a kid. It was about the only thing that rivaled Star Wars in terms of pure action figure goodness. These were toys with serious backstories, an arsenal of weapons - and thumbs that mysteriously broke off quite a bit.

The movie can be somewhat excused for tossing out the majority of the ensemble, I suppose - especially if you take the stance that people might not have a voluminous set of toys to instantly know the characters. Even the characters that are spotlighted, though, undergo rather drastic changes to serve the plot. It's nothing earth shattering considering we're talking source material based on a toy line, not Tolkien - but still somewhat sad that even basic outlines can't be followed.

Then there are the toys. Somehow the movie takes a franchise which already had some pretty hokey concepts and just makes them big screen hokey - the well noted "accelerator suits" (AKA - CGI Battle Warriors) as a perfect example.

And poor Dennis Quaid -I don't think he's been this out of place since Dragonheart. He seems to have problems with characters who are supposed to have growly accents.

So it's bad - not over the top bad (usually) - but pretty bad. It has some fun moments, the plot isn't so absurd that you'll hate all of it - and mostly is criminal for butchering an otherwise simple concept. It's bad, and there is better movies to watch well before getting to this one.

But it's just not nearly as bad as...

Transformers 2
Wow. Just wow.

I had no idea how bad this movie was going to be. It's not like the first one was fine cinema, but kinda like Joe it was at least somewhat fun while slashing apart the original material. There is nothing redeeming about this movie. Every scene that is supposed to be funny - isn't. Much of the human interaction in the movie comes off like bad improv.

Even the big bang special effects somewhat fizzle. For one thing, every Decepticon manages to look like nearly every other Decepticon - except for the extreme cases and Soundwave ... who is now a satellite.

Yeah. A satellite. Capable apparently of shooting plot holes to earth with alarming frequency. Trying not to spoil too much here - but a quick list ... a Decepticon Pretender shows up, though unless you are wildly familiar with the comic line ... this feels like just a bizarre violation of the "big transforming robot" concept in general, humans get swallowed whole and then transported safely half way across the world (apparently that Decepticon also transforms into a motel of sorts) and the main villain spends so much time off screen doing nothing relatively nothing except confusing you if you should be paying attention to Megatron or him ... you'll wonder why the whole thing wasn't called "Transformers 2: Revenge of the WTF were we thinking".

It's just a mess, and honestly big screen special effects aren't that hard to find these days. Sadly this movie made a ton of money, so we're likely to be burdened with "Transformers 3: Rise Of Our Massive Lack Of Editing Ability" in the near future.

Fun Fact: The Baroness was voiced by Stargate alum Teryl Rothery for a while. Also, Duke's death in the animated GI Joe movie was averted because of public outcry to Optimus dying in the animated The Transformers film, produced at the same time. Oddly, Wheeljack's death had no such impact.