The very first Transformers live action movie is now ten years old. It’s a little hard to believe but it’s true.
It seems like only yesterday that I, my husband and our best friend were standing in line, waiting to enter a theatre in Rhode Island for an early showing of the very first movie. None of us really knew what to expect.
This was one of those perks you could get as a BotCon attendee: pay an extra $25 and you could see the movie about a week before it was released in the rest of the US. Needless to say, Prime and I were more than willing to pay up; we’d been hearing things about the movie for a while. Some things were good. Other things weren’t so good. I can remember blogging about the not-so-good things I had heard. To say I was nervous about this movie, about how the characters might be handled, how things might go very, very badly with this.
I was skeptical. I was extremely skeptical. Hollywood had an extremely poor track record when it came to translating something that had originally been animated into a live action film. There were more misses than hits. That bothered me and in this case, it went from bothering me to frightening me.
Those other properties weren’t as special to me as Transformers was; those stories of the valiant Autobots and the vile Decepticons held my imagination when I was a child. The last thing I wanted to see was Hollywood bastardize the property and turn it into something I didn’t recognize and couldn’t love.
There was a lot riding on this movie. Or there was in my case. Especially when it came to one of the characters that would be featured in the film.
I’d heard a lot of rumors about Bumblebee, about how he would be mute and could only communicate via his radio. I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, to be quite honest. I was trying to withhold any judgement before I actually saw the movie but it was hard, honestly. A lot of things were being leaked. A lot of things I heard were making me skittish. So buying this ticket and seeing the film for myself would finally put all of that to rest. I was excited, hopeful and more than a little fearful at what I might see.
What a night that was. The lobby to the theatre was packed with fans. I was sandwiched between my husband and our mutual friend DA, who had managed to switch his ticket with another attendee so he could sit in the same auditorium as us. There was a lot of chatter and laughter as we waited; Prime and I spotted Transformer branded cups for sale at the concession stand so we both bought a drink. DA had the good sense to bring a package of tissues with him; he figured that one of us might need one. (Yeah, about that…)
We got in, found seats, chatted while we waited for the movie to start. But before the theatre darkened, before we saw or heard even a second of the movie, we had a quick visit with Tyrese Gibson and Rachael Taylor, as they had been attending a charity screening next door. It goes without saying that they got a loud reception. Then the auditorium darkened and the movie started. From the first moment when I heard Optimus Prime’s voice, I was overwhelmed.
As the story progressed, I found it was true: Bumblebee was mute. He couldn’t speak. He did use his radio to communicate. To my surprise, I simply accepted it. He might have lacked a voice but he had spirit, personality, spunk. He wasn’t terribly different from the plucky little yellow Bug I had fallen in love with back in 1984.
I didn’t think it was possible, but I fell in love all over again.
The movie was amazing; there was breathtaking action followed by enough humor and heart to help me catch up. There was the story of a boy, a girl and a very faithful Camaro. There was Optimus Prime–still voiced by Peter Cullen–, in all his glory. There was Sector Seven, in all its treachery.
Then there was that was the moment I needed a tissue. Because Sector Seven took down an Autobot. That Autobot happened to be Bumblebee. I wept bitterly. Even now, ten years later, I still can’t watch that scene.
In that moment I knew, I had become a fan again.
The movie wasn’t what I had expected. To be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly what I had expected; I had already seen what the Autobots and Decepticons would look like in this universe. They didn’t have the same blocky style, a la Floro Dery, that I had grown up with in the 1980s. Some fans likened them to Bionicle and I could see their point, as these new Cybertronians seemed rather gangly. That in and of itself was enough to tell me that things in this story would be different.
I just hoped that what I loved about Bumblebee would translate in this new universe. Thankfully, it did.
I walked out of the theatre overjoyed. I felt like a kid again. I was still giggling over some of the gags and I was absolutely smitten with Bumblebee. Michael Bay hadn’t simply won me over; he made me a believer.
It’s been ten years since that first film was released. It’s been ten years since I walked into a Rhode Island theatre a skeptic and walked out relieved. It’s been ten years since this universe started and even now, I get excited when I hear of the release of a new movie.
Ten years ago, I got introduced to a new facet of the Transformers universe. I’m still here to see the rest of the journey and where it may lead and what direction it may take.
It’s been a fun ride for these last ten years, there’s no denying that. Here’s hoping for another decade.