Archive for June 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

June 26, 2009
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

It feels necessary to preface this with the admission that I am a pretty big fan of the Transformers franchise. I haven’t followed it as closely as some, but when a new show/comic/toy line/lunchbox/etc. is announced, I feel some nerdy excitement. The first Michael Bay-helmed Transformers movie was a fun excursion into a world where alien robots that change into cars are waging a centuries-long war on our planet. Sure, the movie had issues, but I’m fairly sure no one going into a theater showing that movie was expecting a Great Film.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ups the ante on almost every level from the first film. The robot battles are more epic, the scenes of Megan Fox running in slow-motion are longer, more frequent, and in slower-motion, and John Turturro further embarrasses himself for our collective amusement.

I went into the movie having read not a single review; the closest I got was my coworker telling me that it had gottan some poor reviews. Fair enough. I can see where the reviewers are coming from; the movie is not nearly as good as its predecessor. The plot feels more convoluted for the sake of being convoluted. It wastes a lot of its two and a half hour running time, leading the end of the movie to feel rushed. Like the first movie, any scene without robots in it- and even some of the scenes with robots; I’m looking at you, Jetfire- feels slower and more boring. Maybe because the voice of Peter Cullen is about ten times the thespian that Megan Fox is.

Speaking of the cast: Shia LaBeouf is a known quantity; a viewer will love/hate him no more and no less than they did his turn in Transformers. And hey, this is at least a better movie than Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. His character’s parents are amusing, though perhaps overused to shoehorn in a point about letting the kid grow up and be an adult. The roommate who gets dragged along for the ride is annoying and unlikeable from the first moment he hits the screen, and doesn’t get any better as things wear on. Each time he got tazed, the audience cheered. John Turturro is supposedly a quality, respected actor, but you wouldn’t know it from this movie. His character is badly written, and I guess he does the best with what he has.

Perhaps worst of all about this movie is the apparently well-discussed racist stereotypes that are Mudflap and Skids.

To briefly overview the characters: they’re more or less complete buffoons throughout the entire movie, they have large plates sticking out the side of their heads, at least one of them has a couple of buckteeth (one of which is gold), and they speak in something similar to Ebonics. Honestly, most of the early scenes involving them feel like watching a minstrel show; deeply uncomfortable for anyone who gets the references. Of course, I think I was the only one in the theater who felt this way, given the enthusiastic reaction they got.

All this is not to say I did not enjoy the film. On the contrary, in spite of the many critiques I had of the movie, I enjoyed it immensely. The battles between the Autobots and Decepticons were fantastic. My biggest complaint about the first movie was that, when the fighting got intense, it became hard to distinguish between the different Transformers. Not so in this movie. Everyone save for Megatron and Starscream had more intense colors on them, which helped, and seemed to have more obvious car parts on them. So, I could tell the difference between Ironhide and Ratchet (not that it mattered, as the two of them were barely in the film). And really, the movie is all about its robot cast. Optimus Prime, Megatron, and Starscream’s characters seem more defined and fleshed out this time around. Starscream’s classically treacherous nature and lust for power is called out, as is Megatron’s distrustful and aggressive handling of his second-in-command.

Also, Soundwave was in this movie! Soundwave is my favorite Transformer, so I was excited to see him, even if he was little more than a satellite in space. Whatever, Soundwave rules.

Really, whether or not you’ll enjoy this movie boils down to a couple of things: does the idea of giant robots beating the living hell out of each other appeal to you? Can you disable the part of your brain that requires quality, intelligent film for 2.5 hours? And, an optional third: do you think Megan Fox is hot? These will greatly influence your enjoyment of this movie. All in all, it’s a fun popcorn seller.