It's been awhile since a major summer entry completely debuted its advertising campaign during the Super Bowl (was The Hulk the last one in 2003?). Anyway, the buzz on this film has been rather lousy, and this teaser doesn't exactly scream confidence, but it's also much too fast paced to get much of a sense of the final project. Oh, and wow does the guy that Dennis Quaid answers to look like a young James Rebhorn (alas, it's not him, I checked).
We can see that The Baroness (Sienna Miller) will be the main face of evil, with Destro (Christopher Ecckleston) and Cobra Commander (played by... um... 26-year old Joseph Gorden-Levitt?) hidden for most of the action. The 'Real American Heroes' barely get any screen time, with Rachel Nichols (Scarlet), Marlon Wayans (Ripcord) and Channing Tatum (Duke) barely getting a close up. Of course, everyone's favorite action figure was Snake Eyes (Ray Parks) so he gets several moments in the too-brief clip. Dennis Quaid brings a certain credibility to everything he does, so we'll see. I loved the first two Mummy pictures and hated Van Helsing, so hopefully this will be Stephen Summers' return to form.
There are two big marketing problems, aside from whether the movie is or isn't any good. First of all, any trailer for GI Joe is going to struggle to not play as a 'serious' (and thus unintentionally humorous) version of Team America: World Police. Second of all, for all intents and purposes, there has already been a GI Joe movie. It came out in 1994 and starred Jean Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia. Yes, it was called Street Fighter and yes the names were different, but that felt as much like a live-action GI Joe film as anything.
Slight digression, but according to IMDB, Rachel Nichols' other 2009 summer tentpole, Star Trek, will in fact be shown in IMAX. This may be old news, but its the first I've seen of it. This is a fantastic decision, as the film's seemingly huge scope cries out for IMAX, although this again brings up the question of how competing studios will fight it out for the relatively few IMAX screens available for these special engagements (in just this summer, there will be three major films utilizing the IMAX format in just over two months - Star Trek, Transformers 2, and Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince).
I hated the first Transformers the first time I saw it. I hated the campy tone, the over-the-top acting, preschool humor, and ridiculous romantic subplot ('hey, I only want you cause you're super hot... wait, you have a juvenile record and your father was a car thief... you're a whore!'). Me, my wife, and my ex-roommate seemed to be the only ones who despised the film during summer 2007 (my wife was sure that we had seen a different cut than our peers).
Even my unborn child violently kicked my wife's womb in protest on opening night (she did the same when forced to watch Grease 2) However, when I saw the picture a second time on HD-DVD (to give it a second chance), my colicky newborn daughter slept through the entire 140 minute feature, thus temporarily making Transformers my favorite film of 2007.
The biggest problem was that the issues mentioned above disguised the fact that there was very little robot action in the film. What was there was quite exciting and stunning (the FX were peerless), but at the end of the day, there was far more humans bickering than robots smashing. Hell, Optimus Prime doesn't even engage in robot combat until the 110 minute mark.
That doesn't seem to be the problem here. Of course, this is just a Super Bowl teaser, but, my god... the size of everything! That last shot of the Optimus Prime leaping from the collapsing bridge (and the sheer size of his opponent) is just the kind of thing I wanted to see in the first film. Michael Bay will be shooting several scenes in IMAX and I may just see this one just to drink in the visuals. I may hate myself in the morning, and I'll have no qualms complaining about being fooled twice, but here's hoping that this is the Transformers movie that I wanted in the first place (where the robots are the stars and not the comic relief supporting characters).