the event: a 22-minute sneak preview of Transformers.
the mood: anticipation and utter jubilation for the opportunity.
There were 4 scenes in all, with the UIP-rep mentioning that they are generally incomplete, with temporary music and effects/CG to be polished. these are the scene breakdowns, as clear as i can remember them:
:: BLACKOUT ATTACKS AIR FORCE BASE ::
- we start with a squad of soldiers enroute back to camp via air transpo. the camaraderie is set-up (which i can only assume will be manifested in the later part of the flick) with Josh Duhmel (Las Vegas / aka Mr. Fergie :p) and Tyrese Gibson 2Fast 2Furious) and their crew giving Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) schtick for speaking Spanish all the time and not being able to understand him. Duhmel speaks about just wanting to go home to see his newborn daughter (which awkwardly sets up the premise of "hope" and family - aka. "something to fight for", IMHO :p)
- blame it on Hollywood or even Ridley Scott, but whenever i see helicopters flying thru a desert, i'd immediately reference Black Hawk Down - and not that that's a bad thing really, becoz tis the military-macho adds somewhat to the tension and anticipation that ultimately builds up to the first transformation by Decepticon BLACKOUT that literally took my breath away.
- plane lands and we see soldiers chillin' out everywhere, and i mean "everywhere". the air force base looks like a giant holiday summer camp. i'd understand setting up the "calm before the storm"-premise, but this was borderline "staged" (but then again, i've never been on an US air base before, haven't i? HAH) ... of coz the not-so-subtle foreground shot of a Stealth plane as the camera cranes down to soldiers walking the air-strip, reinforces the "military" power aspect ...
- Captain Lennox/Josh Duhamel speaks via webcam to his wife and new born daughter at the entrance of the command centre. the sense of "family" and love is instilled at this point. all this transpires amidst the chaos brewing slowly in Ops Command, where an unidentified helicopter had been spotted. attack planes have been dispatched to escort it to the air base.
- for me, the anticipation was building up to fever pitch, which in a way deprived me of the joy of "surprise", as i'd read about the preview online much earlier and hence knew what was going to happen ... but happen it did and i was still breathless LOL
- from the fleeting flicker of the helicopter's pilot's face, to the second the helicopters' rotor blades flick back = the transformation of BLACKOUT is awesome cool, IMHO. with mondo-more transforming gadgets that i'd expect and that for me, raises the bar in terms of "transforming robots" other than the regular cartoon transforms transfans've been used to all these years ... actually, Blackout takes quite a while to transform (more gears and parts to move).
- what was "retro-cool" was the sound of the transformation, likened to the familiar "ek-or-or-ek" of the cartoons! LOL dunno if they'll eventually keep that in the final movie version tho :p
- BLACKOUT peppers the base with missiles and gunfire, tanks are flipped and soldiers are still firing unsuccessfully at the Decepticon. an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) is is unleashed and crashes the electronics of the base.
- BLACKOUT rips into the command HQ and reaches for what seem to be the central core and siphons data (intelligence) of what seems to be details of Sector Seven (unconfirmed, just a hunch). the close-up of his mecha-hands reminds me a tad of the ABC Warrior Robot in Judge Dredd, not polished mecha-work, but rough and rugged bruiser-ish vibe. *nice*
- Tyrese somehow gets himself beneath BLACKOUT, literally at his foot and nearly gets stomped on, but suppression fire from fellow soldiers covered his retreat/escape. a quick release scene of SCORPONOK out BLACKOUT's back sees him burrowing into the desert ground.
:: SAM AND MIKEALA'S FIRST OFFICIAL ENCOUNTER COURTESY OF BUMBLEBEE THE WANNABE MATCHMAKER ::
- Sam Witwicky and his bud drives thru and into a park area. they get out of the car and walks up to a buncha Football jocks , with Mega Fox/Mikeala hanging about. macho posturing words were exchanged and Sam is embarrassed. Mikeala eyes Sam intently (dunno why leh)
- Football Jock makes a comment about girls riding in the backseat like "good little bunnies" when Mikeala asks to drive his car. Mikeala dismisses the notion of being a bunny and decides to walk off by herself.
- Sam hesitates, while the Car's "Drive" is pumped out of the car stereo. his bud asks: "so what are you gonna do?", to which Sam replies that he'll "drive her home". Sam rushes his bud out of the car ... "Bros Before 'Hoes" works not, in the case of Megan Fox (which i can't blame Sam tho LOL)
(*note* = Bumblebee speaks not a word in this movie, he uses music from the stereo to provide both his "voice" and as comedic effect and it sorta works lah)
- Mikeala accepts Sam's offer of a ride and drives off together in his beat-up old 1974 Camaro (Bumblebee). there's a literal cartoon bumblebee hanging off his rear-view mirror, with BEE-OTCH written on it (*snicker*). thru their conversation, Mikeala has never noticed Sam before, even when Sam has been around her since the first grade. heart melts slightly for him, in the cheesy teenage-angst-movie-way (LOL)
- they end up driving to a cliff-side location, when Bumblebee decides to "break down" ("car breakdown", i mean) Marvin Gaye's music pumps from the stereo ... oblivious to the "romantic" set-up, Mikeala gets out of the car to inspect the engine. the hood is popped and Mikeala shows that she knows her mechanics (inherited from her dad). Sam fumbles like nobody's business LOL
- gratitous shots of Mikeala. Sam drools. my nose bleeds.
- deciding she couldn't fix the car, Mikeala decides to walk off by herself (again), while Sam pleads with Bumblebee to start up and he does, while playing Player's "Baby Come Back" from the stereo. cute lah.
:: TRANSFORMERS HOUSE PARTY ... NOT! ::
- Optimus Prime, Bumblebee (who is by now the supped-up brand nw Camero), Ratchet, Ironhide and Jazz drives down subarbia towards Sam's house. they park at the side and Sam rushes off into the house, while telling Mikeala to look after the Transformers. at this point both of them know about the Transforming robots and are searching for Sam's grandfather's glasses (which contains the Allspark-code), in his bedroom.
- Sam's parents talk about grounding the boy, while watching television and generally creating another round of confusion for him. standing at the door way negotiating with his dad while Bumblebee and Optimus Prime had converted into Autobot mode sneaking around the backyard was quite farnie.
- personally i "appreciated" the concept of Bumblebee not being able to speak, as he would be able to portray more "animated" gestures (for communication) as compared to the other Autobots. Optimus speaks (and yes, he had a "mouth") and so did Ironhide.
- Dad goes back into the house, while the rest of the transformed Autobots roamed the big-ass garden, with Optimus stepping on (and crushing) the garden fountain (he says: "my bad" = cringeworthy) and Sam's little chihuahua pees on Ironhides feet, whereby he trains his weapons on the little pooch. okay, cheesy farnie, i admit ... *heh*
- Sam goes up into his room and searches frantically for the item. Mikeala was then carried unto the window ledge by a Optimus. one of the more farnie scenes was when the Autobots transformed back into cars and basically parked randomly at the backyard. "this is not a truck stop" ~ shouts Sam.
- Autobot-searchlights food the house, alerting Sam's parents and they burst into Sam's bedroom. the chaotic banter between parents and Sam was pretty farnie, with his mum asking if he was masturbating (LOL) and suggesting calling it "Sam's Happy Hour" (or was it "time"?) Shia LaBeouf is excellent here, IMHO.
- Autobots scamble in the backyard to keep quiet, while Ratchet clumsily trips and falls unto a electrical-tower, causing a blackout in the neighbourhood.
- black government-type vehicles races down the street and pulls up outside Sam's house. John Turturro's Sector Seven anal-retentive team-leader knocks on the door and invites himself in, while the rest of the team search around the house. after a "radiation check", it was determined that Sam has had "direct contact" with the robots and was cuffed and led away.
- personally, even tho the effects and CG was yet to be completed for some parts of the robots, it was a sheer surprise and delight to see the Autobots "come to life". i enjoyed it moreso becoz i'd since given up on the notion that these Transformers were not going to be anywhere near the designs of the cartoons of my childhood, and what i saw made me want to see even more dammit LOL
:: SCORPONOK ATTACK ::
- the squad we first saw in the first preview scene were patrolling the desert (why i dunno). we first see Scorponok's sharpened spike directed at the back of Capt Lennox. the squad opens fire at the Decepticon and are then chased to a desert-town. muncho-fire power and explosions ensue. this is basically the action-packed segment of the preview.
- Lennox escorts a little boy (first seen in scene one) into his house and asks for his father's phone and using the mobile phone tries to call the pentagon for support, to which a Middle-Eastern Call Operator calmly delays the conversation, asking for a credit card number to facilitate the call. farnie the first time round only, im afraid.
- the call gets thru and Tyrese briefs the ops personnel on location. Jon Voight appears in this scene.
- attack jets are scambled and destruction is rained down on Scorponok, who beats a hasty retreat, leaving behind a severed tail-end in the struggle.
we were treated to big-screen versions of the recent TV Spots, "HIDDEN" and "DESTINY" - which were a tad too pixellated and seemed to finish faster then seen online! (big screen effect, i reckon) - nice treat tho :))))
WRAP-UP / OBSERVATIONS:
- i couldn't genuinely gauge the audience reactions, with the vibe generally of folks who might not have been aware, if not "transfans", as the reception to the images were generally mild. no wild cheers. quite a bit of laughter where they are supposed to be and gentle applause.
- i had a couple sat next to me, with the lady clapping politely. a dude sat behind with his mates were irritatingly rattling off the names of the Transformers as they appeared. were his mates really that clueless? as much as i wanted to cheer and shout, i realized that this might not be the crowd to be in. for sure they might catch the movie (Singapore's Hollywood-intake is undoubtable) but i know not for sure how Transfans would react to this movie tho.
- As a casual Transfan (i dare not claim otherwise, as compared to the "hardcore naysayers"), i enjoyed it immensely, becoz as mentioned, i'd given up on the notion of the old cartoons and have decided to enjoy it for what it is, and not what it could be, IMHO.
- I had a conversation with one of my film students today (he's in his early 20's), and he immediately panned the movie, based on Michael Bay's involvement alone. which i think it's a pity, for regardless of his style (which folks either love or hate) this movie i reckon is gonna be one of them blockbuster hits irregardless and i reckon tis gonna be a wild ride!
- the UIP-rep (i assume) mentioned that the movie was gonna hit in June, which i thought was 4th of July? anyways, regardless of the timeline, and that i've already read about the preview prior (which did take away a bit of the surprise), it was fabulous to see it with my own eyes and it sure whet my appetite for Transformers even more than it already had and i'd definitely be counting down the days leading up to it's debut!
- i wished i'd thought of offering to buy the Autobot ink-stamp used to identify the preview folks who were invited:
my sincere thanks to Deborah of UIP for the preview opportunity and look forward to Transformers definitely :))))
- Cowboy Caleb's summary
- Images of Qatar Set on location
- Primary Reference and Support Details on Seibertron
youtubed-trailers for HIDDEN and DESTINY (wif no watermarks - but sorry about the "stretched" format tho :p)
HIDDEN (brightened version here)
DESTINY (brightened version here)
[First Reviewed on TOYSREVIL on April 20th 2007]