Optimus Prime that transforms on its own

Someone has created an Optimus Prime action figure / toy / collectible that transforms on its own. It even responds to voice commands and you can drive it around via an app. If this interests you in the least, here’s a video showing it off:

I have to admit, that is really cool. It’s great that they used the original transforming sound effect and that they got Peter Cullen to voice the dialogue. So props to the maker of this for doing it right.

It contains over 5000 components, 60 microchips, and 27 servo motors, with more details at the official site. As you might expect, technology this awesome is not cheap. $700 is out of my budget for such things, so I won’t be able to provide a hands-on review. Hopefully in the future it’ll get a lot cheaper, because it would be a great addition to my desk.

The reviewer in the video declares this the coolest toy ever. Of course that’s debatable, but I’m not going to argue with that. It is indeed awesome. Do you know of a toy or toy-like collectible that is more awesome?

Optimus Prime doing roundhouse kicks

I was just talking with someone about the upcoming Transformers movie, and we were thinking there should be a Transformer with ninja skills.  He could be all-black, with special stealth skills, and have fast fighting moves.  He could throw explosive ninja stars.  G.I. Joe had ninjas — Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow — and that was cool, so I think it would work for the Transformers.

Also, it would be neat if they enabled Optimus Prime to be able to do roundhouse kicks (a la Chuck Norris).  To fit that into the story, the Autobots and Decepticons are both searching for a Chuck Norris upgrade package, which gives you crazy-cool fighting skills, then Optimus Prime ends up with it.  I know this deviates from the canon of Transformers lore (the comics), but I think most fans would buy into it.  (Besides, Michael Bay is already changing up the story so much, so they might as well make them even better.)  Somebody should make this happen.

Somebody has thought of combining them before, as evidenced by this quote (sorry I don’t know who said it) :

The original theme song to The Transformers was actually “Chuck Norris — more than meets the eye, Chuck Norris — robot in disguise”, and starred Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger who defended the earth from drug-dealing Decepticons and could turn into a pick-up.  This was far too much awesome for a single show, however, so it was divided.

For a show it might be too much, yeah, but what about for a movie?  Think about it…

how Transformers CGI should have looked in the movie, pt. 2

I just updated “how Transformers CGI should have looked in the movie” because the video link had changed.  It’s been a popular post, with over 1,000 pageviews.  I also added a remixed version of the video to it, featuring music from the original series, which makes it even better.

Who is this?

While finding the video, I found a fan-made video of Generation 1 (G1) Transformers using CGI that was well done.  It’s not movie-quality, because I’m sure he didn’t have a $200 million budget.  But it gives an idea how the characters could have looked in CGI while still resembling their original design.  (Why does that matter?  You should be able to easily tell who is who.  Not only did Michael Bay remove most of their personalities, but he removed most of their unique external features, too.  They look very similar in the movies, which should not be.)  FYI, consider the video rated PG because of a couple of words and some stuff gets blown up.

I had hoped that the fourth Transformer movie would be rebooted with the new director, to have more story along with the action, but it appears that won’t happen.  Sure, the first 3 movies did well financially, but they could be so much better if the story of the Transformers was actually told instead of it being about mankind versus an alien invasion (which has been done so many times).

Let's hope not!

The Autobots and Decepticons are in a civil war, and there’s a deep story behind that which is being ignored in the movies.  The movies can (and should) keep the action sequences and big explosions, but let’s hear the story with real character development.

The reason Transformers are still around is because it has a great story with great characters.  That’s why the franchise is still going strong and we’re not getting movies about GoBots (which had some cool toys, but no story).  Some of you may not remember this, but when Optimus Prime was killed in the original cartoon movie, there was a huge outcry from fans.  (The company executives didn’t get it then, either.)  Optimus was like the John Wayne of Transformers.  In fact, the fan response was so great that the upcoming G.I. Joe cartoon movie was rewritten during production, because in it Duke was going to be killed, so they made him go into a coma instead.  Why am I saying all this?  To show that fans care about characters with personality.

watching Transformers 3 with different expectations

I saw Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (the third CGI movie) in theaters recently, because I heard it had good 3D effects.  Also, I was curious to see what I’d think of it now that my expectations were much lower after being so disappointed with the first one.  (I skipped the second one, because I heard it was turrible.  Even director Michael Bay said it was crap.)

I had recently read a quote about watching a movie with the proper perspective:

If you watch a movie with a mindset that does not match the theme, you will always hate it. If it’s a kid’s movie …, watch it with a kid’s eye. If it’s a slapstick comedy that is supposed to be goofy, don’t look for intelligent humor. It may not always work, but it sometimes does. Give it a try. You may find yourself liking a movie that you didn’t before. ~ Dave Nelson

When the first Transformers movie was announced, I had such high hopes that it would build upon the backstory, update and modernize (only as necessary), and tell a great philosophical story of a civil war between sentient robots.  (There really is a great sci-fi background story, as well as philosophical topics.  The origins of Optimus Prime and Megatron can be compared to Xavier and Magneto in X-Men.  See “The War Within” for a great example.)  Obviously director Michael Bay tossed all that aside and made the story more about humans and explosions.

So with Michael Bay directing this one also, I expected:
* the humans to play the biggest role in the movie;
* the Transformers wouldn’t have much personality;
* character development of Transformers wouldn’t happen much;
* story would take a back seat to action scenes;
* lots of explosions;
* a number of action scenes zoomed in too close where you can hardly tell what’s going on.

So was I disappointed?  For those expectations, it was a good movie.  Compared to what could’ve been, it was disappointing again.  The 3D effect was well-done — not over-used or cheesy like many 3D movies have been.

The bulk of the story was between humans, which is missing the whole point. Transformers is about a civil war going on between intelligent robots.

There were some unexpected twists in the story, which is good and bad.  It made it less predictable and somewhat more suspenseful, but it was done by changing the backstory of some of the Transformers.  There are also a few plot points that are completely unbelievable.  I could go on and on about that, but you can read some on this page (with spoilers).

Afterward, one of the guys with me said all three movies had the same basic plot.  Sure some details changed, but it was basically the same thing.  He also noted that he had recently watched the G1 (original) cartoon episode that showed the Transformers leaving Cybertron, and that the cartoon actually explained that part of the story better than all the movies have.  That doesn’t surprise me at all!

Maybe the next movie will have a better story, since it will have a new director… He can keep the great action scenes and special effects and explosions, but just develop the personality of the Transformers and let them drive the story.  That way the new fans and G1 fans might all enjoy it more.