Sunday, April 15, 2007

Another new "Transformers" clip to make you feel dead inside

Batman has pointy ears. Daredevil has horns. Superman wears a cape. "Zelda's" Link sports of floppy, pointy hat. Godzilla has leaf-like back spines. Hobbits have fuzzy feet. Charlie Brown wears a yellow shirt with a wraparound jagged-line design. The Super Mario Bros. wear overalls and hats with their initials on them. The Lone Ranger, Zorro and The Spirit all wear masks.

These are simple, basic design-elements. Easy to remember, instantly-identifiable visual traits that make characters recognizable. The "icon" part of the term "iconographic."

Also on that list, at least as far as I'm concerned: Optimus Prime doesn't have, or require, a visible mouth. Except that now he does:

And the ongoing saga of "Godzilla 1998: Take Two" continues. Sigh...

Already a couple of you are rolling your eyes. "Silly fanboys, getting all worked-up about minor changes to a bunch of dopey old toy robots." It's almost not even worth trying to explain anymore, but the general "fanboy" malaise over these re-designs most-definately isn't just a bunch of overgrown children complaining about a screw out of place here or there. Character-design changes are usually welcomed by all but the most deeply obsessive... When they're good. You won't find many Batman fans, for example, all that upset that the movie/animated-series Bruce Wayne does his crimefighting in a black cowl as opposed to the comic's traditional blue. The claws come out when re-designs are BAD: Think the innexplicably be-nippled Batman of "Batman & Robin," or the aforementioned 1998 American bastardization of Godzilla.

Right down the line, the nominal "stars" of "Transformers," even setting aside the pre-existing comic/toy/cartoon designs, are some of the worst-looking cinematic robots in recent memory. They all look like asymetrical, unwieldy scrap-metal sculptures. This is the very definition of OVER-DESIGNED; obviously the art department guys had a ball figuring out all the little gears and bits and intricacies, but moving around at large scale they look like ass, plain and simple. And now, thanks to the above TV spot, we now know that - in addition to the moronic "whoa, dude!" flame decals - Optimus Prime now sports a ridiculous-looking pair of liquid-metal monkey lips. Oh, well.

But enough moping. Some nice fellow on YouTube put up this clip from the recent live-action version of the oldschool Japanese anime classic "Tetsujin 28" ("Gigantor" to us Americans.) The video-quality isn't spectacular, and there aren't subtitles, but still... take a look at what you get when big-budget CGI giant robot movies are made by people who actually give a damn:

And since I'm not able to embed that one, apparently, here's the trailer:

I've got this on DVD (so can you, Geneon has a fine English Subtitled version out in general release they didn't publicize for whatever reason) and let me tell you: They probably spent less making this whole movie than it likely cost to cater the "Transformers" set for a week (I mean, can you imagine how much it costs to get a fresh village maiden for producer Don Murphy to drain of blood every day??) but it's fun as hell, has charm to spare and it's giant robot sequences kick visual ass on a level Michael Bay couldn't attain if he was mainlining mescalin atop Mt. Everest.