Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" - spoiler movie review

I really liked "Transformers", and the trailer for the sequel, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen", looked really good, so I was looking forward to seeing it. We've been to a few midnight screenings for movies in recent months, but we weren't quite as excited about this film so decided to pass on the midnight show and just see it opening weekend. That turned out to be a good decision.

I liked the film ok, but it wasn't nearly what I expected, and I did like the first film much better, even with the problems I encountered when I saw the first film. The first film was frenetic in parts, but mostly during the final battle sequence. When the bots are madly fighting each other, it's a little hard to tell who's fighting who. Well, in the case of the sequel, that was multiplied tenfold. I have issues with films that are too jarring, and they can induce nausea, which is no fun at all, so I usually have to manage that by not staring right at the action during those parts. Guess how much of this film I didn't watch/see because of that? And it REALLY didn't help when Michael Bay, the director, decided to dolly the camera around Megan Fox multiple times for seemingly no reason whatsoever, other than that she's hot, and she looks great with the sun behind her. OK, so just have her standing still, in front of the sun, tossing her hair seductively. Done.

The film seemed very disjointed to me, kind of schizophrenic, unable to decide what it wants to be and failing to mesh the disparate parts together. Much of the attempted humour - Sam's mom getting high on brownies and then behaving really oddly at his new college, the whole irony of who Sam's roommate is and his whole attitude, the "twin" Autobots who talked street - just fell flat and seemed forced to me.

The main plot itself, with the Decepticons looking for the magic source, and the prior battle eons ago that led to the sacrifice of all those Primes, was pretty cool. But the plot point that I objected to in the first film, when the head of the bad guys, Megatron, was killed? Well, they wiped that all away pretty handily with the magic bit of cube left over that they brought him back to life with. So, since Megatron was so easy to bring back to life, the "death" of Optimus Prime really lost its effect. Everyone in the movie, from Sam to the military folk to the Autobots, were all devastated at Optimus Prime's death. Me, not so much, because I knew he wasn't going to stay dead, that he was going to be brought back to life before the film was over. If it was that easy to bring back Megatron, it was going to be pretty much that easy to bring Optimus Prime back. Which made his death kind of meaningless. Which was a shame. In the first two films, they've killed both of the main characters in the fight between the Autobots and the Decepticons *AND* brought them both back to life. Isn't that pretty much playing all your cards too soon?

And I hadn't paid enough attention to the title of the film, but the trailing part very much echoes the second "Star Wars" film - "The Empire Strikes Back", and it's not just the titles that are similar. There were quite a number of scenes that really smacked of a Palpatine/Vader relationship.

One odd thing - in almost all of these kinds of film, at least to my memory, they refer to a "president", and sometimes, they actually show him or at least give him a name, but it's always some fake name. During the early parts of the movie, they only referred to the "president", but after the Fallen makes his broadcast, there's a line about how President Obama has been taken to a secure location. This is the first time I can think of where they used the actual real president's name. Weird.

The kitchen appliances gone bad was pretty funny though.

There is one thing I love about this movie, which I got from the trailer - it's got one of the best lines around, right up there with "No fate but what we make for ourselves." In this case, it's Optimus Prime's line - "Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing." Hmm, weird that the two lines are kind of related, huh?

But then that leads me another point I really didn't like. I don't profess to be all that knowledgeable about the Transformers toys and lexicon. I know they change from one thing to another. But I don't recall there being Transformers that were related to Terminators - the hot girl who goes after Sam (and yeah, that was telegraphed that there was something wonky about her, though I did find the scene funny when Bumblebee was playing songs while she was in the car, and then he whacked her into the dashboard - and wasn't it weird that she wasn't then bruised or bleeding or anything like a normal person?) turns out to be a Decepticon who's got this layer of skin and totally passes for a human, until it grows a tail/spine and has magic elastic tongue? Really? Really. No, sorry, doesn't work for me.at.all.

Shia LaBeouf was ok in this film. He still played it well, the boy who gets thrown into a situation he doesn't want to be in, and he ends up having to save the earth and mankind as we know it. I didn't watch the parts where the bots were probing his face and brain and such, even though I knew it wasn't really him. Oh, but I really enjoyed the scene when Sam tells Bumblebee that he can't come to college with him.

Megan Fox was ok, but I think she had a better part and more to do in the first film. She played on her looks and sex appeal in the first film, but they also showed the substance and fire underneath. It seemed like in this film, they focussed mostly on the sex appeal and neglected developing her character better. However, I did like when she captured the bot that was trying to get into the safe, and she beat the heck out of it and kept it captive, and then she ended up with her own pet Decepticon. Oh, well, Sam had his pet Autobot, so she can have a pet Decepticon. But, Bumblebee never tried to have sex with Sam. She screamed "Saaaaaaaaam" a lot during this movie.

Josh Duhamel was ok in this film, but I'd like to see him in a film where he has a bit more to do. I think he's capable of it - we just need to see it. I did like him in the scene with the asshole rep from the White House, when he's showing him how the parachute works and the guy pulls the plug too soon.

I will admit that I don't remember John Turturro from the first film. But, I did only end up seeing it once, and that was two years ago. I enjoyed him in this film quite a bit, probably the best thing about the film. I loved his delivery of the line about chasing after these alien creatures for years, and Mikaela (Megan Fox) had one in her purse. Speaking of which, how in the heck did she get the bot through the airport scan in her checked luggage?

Still love Glenn Morshower, though I didn't realize they were using his actual last name. "Aaron" kicks butt wherever he is, even if Jack Bauer isn't around.


I've wanted to see "Terminator Salvation" again anyway, but seeing this film just makes me want to see that film even more.

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