More than meets the eye?

This weekend marks an important occasion for most men of my generation. A friend of ours who is a font of TV and film trivia told me this weekend that the decision to make the new Transformers movie was spurred on, in part, by a survey wherein some huge percentage of men in in their thirties and forties listed the death of Optimus Prime as one of the most traumatic events of their childhood. (Note: I don’t know if he made that up, because I can’t find a source. But he tends to Know These Things so I suspect it’s true. Still, I’m not claiming it to be hard fact.)

Whatever the reason, we’ve talked before about how this movie is much more for the demographic that enjoyed the Transformers the first time ’round than for the current (young) fans of the toys. Regardless, the time has come and the movie is opening. So…?

How’s it going to do?

When I last looked, the Tomatometer for Transformers was hovering right around 59%, which isn’t great. The critics seem to be saying similar things, it’s more a matter of how forgiving they are of what they have to report: Great effects, loud and booming and very much a production, campy as all get-out, and… here they split. They either find it fun or a waste of time.

(Though I don’t suppose the lack of award-winning dialog is a huge surprise to anyone.)

Toon Zone’s Chad Lee gives the film a big thumbs up along with a prediction for this to be the start of a giant robot revolution. I suspect he’s right, even if the film is little more than giant robots blowing stuff up.

Because, dude, it’s giant robots blowing stuff up! Isn’t that sort of the very definition of a summer blockbuster?

Transformers shaping up for Cartoon Network

not being able to share the Transformers movie with my kids due to the film’s rating (and violence). My son, in particular, was crushed. For about five minutes. Then he saw something shiny and forgot all about it. (He is his mother’s son, after all.)

I suspect he’ll be thrilled to learn that Transformers: Animated will be debuting on Cartoon Network this Fall. Hey, it’s Transformers, it’s Cartoon Network; what’s not to like? In my son’s universe, that’s pretty much a recipe for success, right there.

If you’re not a natural-born Transformers fan, or you’re skeptical about the series for some reason, here’s something you might find interesting: There are plenty of familiar names from Teen Titans at the helm of the new series.

Matt Youngberg (Teen Titans, The Batman) will be the new series’ supervising director while Derrick Wyatt (Teen Titans, Legion of Superheroes) is providing the character designs and Cartoon Network VP Sam Register will produce. notes that another Titans alum is on board:

Although no dates have been given for the show’s debut, Tara Strong’s site says it’ll be out shortly after the big movie this year. Tara says she’ll be voicing “Sari”, one of the show’s regulars (who she notes is “not a Transformer … just a little girl!”).

As for the feel of the series… well, that’s being kept under wraps, for now.

Little is known about the new series except for the fact that it will take place in a future era during which humans and robots both inhabit the Earth. Optimus Prime (supposedly now a fire truck) and Megatron will be featured in the new series, which reportedly features a brand new look for the long-lived Transformers characters.

Hmmmm, let me see. Will it involve… transformers? Yes, you say? Well then I’m thinking it’ll be a smash hit amongst most of the boys I know. Robots in disguise; that’s good entertainment. Just ask my son. Though I hope you have an hour to listen to him talk, if you do.

Transformers: Robots for grown-ups?

wrote a great piece about how the upcoming Transformers movie was saved from an ‘R’ rating. If you haven’t read his piece, do, because Chris makes many valid points about how this is a property that started with toys. Were the movie to come out with the dreaded ‘R’ rating, any toy tie-ins would be greeted with suspicion and that could be problematic.

I read the piece when Chris wrote it, noted that the movie will be, instead, rated PG-13, and moved on.

Yesterday, Jeff McKinney reported on the Toy Guy Blog that Transformer movie trailers are available for viewing at IGN. So I bopped on over there to have a look.

It’s possible that I had something of a senior moment when reading Chris’ original article about the movie; he did say that instead of an ‘R’ rating, the movie would garner a ‘PG-13′ rating. Even so, I was (naively) astonished at how violent the trailer was.

Don’t get me wrong; it looks like a great action movie, with suspense and special effects galore. But it doesn’t look like something I can take my kids to. Some of you are now saying, “Duh.” (My children are under 13, so I should’ve known that already.)

But I’m disappointed, because my son is a huge Transformers fan. This happens, I know. He also likes Spiderman (in theory, anyway), and he’s not been allowed to see any of the movies. But Spiderman is just a concept to him, really. The Transformers, well, who and what they are is integral to why the toys are so cool. They promote imagination and dexterity (heck, I can’t figure out how to transform half of his toys) and while yes, I know they exist to battle one another, they’re also really cool to just fiddle around with.

And my son is going to be crushed that he can’t see the movie. I’m sure the film will have a huge following amongst folks who grew up with the Transformers, but I can’t help wondering if there couldn’t have been a movie that captured the spirit of Transformers but would still be suitable even for younger viewers.

Then I start wondering at exactly what age I think giant, transforming evil robots are appropriate, and then I realize this is probably something I shouldn’t think about too hard.