TransmorphersReviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 07/07/07 12:23:45
When the movie’s called “Transmorphers,” you know only those nutty folks over at Asylum Entertainment could be responsible. And so they are: although writer/director Leigh Scott has repeatedly stated publicly that “Transmorphers” began as a totally-not-a-rip-off sci-fi epic with the totally-not-generic title “Robot Wars” (!) and was slapped with the knock-off title later, the whole thing still reeks from top to bottom with that beautiful sort of ridiculousness that only Asylum, makers of “The Da Vinci Treasure” and “Snakes on a Train,” could provide.The movie is a dopey little amalgam of everything from “Battlestar Galactica” to “Starship Troopers” to “24” to the “Matrix” sequels to, yes, “Transformers,” and not a single damn frame of it makes any sense. Which, of course, is how we like our Asylum films. While the studio has managed to churn out the occasional wonderful surprise (their take on “War of the Worlds” remains a stunningly strong work), the majority of their product is awful to the point of insanity - these blockbuster rip-offs would be embarrassing if they weren’t so damn silly, winking at us all the way, wondering how they’re getting away with it all.
Alas, of all the nonsense going on here, too much of it is just plain boring. Scott’s film is an enormously ambitious one for such a small outfit, and he bites off more than he can chew. To cover the obvious budgetary holes, most of the story’s post-apocalyptic adventure concerns people standing around in small rooms while they yell at each other, which is strictly snoozeville. When we finally move the action outside, we’re given a collection of underlit sequences in which the heroes shoot at monsters left offscreen.
These intentional avoidances of anything remotely resembling special effects turns out to be a good idea: once the evil robots appear, they’re crudely animated blocks of nothing impressive (even lousy effects can be saved by intriguing design work). Later, we see the “transmorph” in question, as some of the robots turn into cannons and planes, or something, which results in yawns of “that’s it?” As for the finale requiring a massive supply of effects, well, the less said about that, the better.
Of course, questionable effects will always be forgiven if the tone is right. Consider the recent sci-fi cheapie “Planetfall.” Many of that film’s homemade effects are cheerfully excused by the sheer amount of unbridled joy and glee pumped into the project. With “Transmorphers,” there’s no joy to be found, no glee in making a movie on one’s own terms. Everyone here looks flat-out bored by the whole mess. And how can you have fun with something like that?
Worse still is the shoddy post-production that left almost every scene with an auditory hiccup. Thanks to some production error (no doubt caused by the frenzied rush to get this on video store shelves on time - Asylum often runs a concept-to-final product turnaround time that would make Roger Corman blush), dialogue left and right is always a good half-second out of sync. This only underlines the very cheapness of the whole thing.
Oh, but the story. Yes, the story. A prologue informs us that in 2009, we found life on a planet twenty million light years away. Five years later, they showed up at our door, taking over the joint. (At first I had hoped the horribly faulty science involved in this was a clever joke, a tip of the hat to classic sci-fi blunders. Turns out I was wrong. This movie’s just that dunderheaded.)
So now it’s years later, and humans are struggling to survive in hidden underground cities, where the costumes and the sets and the camera angles are all on loan from “Battlestar Galactica.” For reasons either too stupid to detail here to too sloppy to be understood in the first place, a former soldier is taken out of cryo-freezie-something and returned to action, while a bunch of lesbian pilots get into cat fights, while the nerdy scientist guy hatches a plan to give the robots a computer virus.
Scott has spent so much time on message boards lately screaming about how his film was never intended to be a “Transformers” copy that he seems to have already forgotten that his film is also a rip-off of twenty other movies. There’s nothing here that’s fresh at all, be it plot points stolen from other movies to dialogue taken straight from some cliché generator. (“What if they don’t make it?” …long, serious pause… “They’ll make it.”) None of this hackneyed and/or borrowed material is competent in any form.So, yeah, even for an Asylum movie, “Transmorphers” is woefully trite and unimaginative. Even the most dedicated Bad Movie fans will have difficulty slogging through this one.
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