Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Review: Transformers 2 Revenge of the Fallen

This movie is pure Michael Bay. Which is to say that it is very pretty but the charm is only surface. And since it is a sequel, one has to note that it is the typical Michael Bay sequel -- more explosions, more action and a more ridiculous plot and dialogue than the first.

We open almost 20,000 years in the past. Our old friend Optimus Prime gives us a quaint and almost philosophical voiceover as we watch shots of ancient man hunting some giant wild tiger or such, only to stumble onto a bizarre and, you guessed it, Decepticon filled space ship.

Cut to today, Shanghai. An evacuation is under way due to a toxic spill. Or is it, wink wink. Of course not. A second, and totally pointless, voiceover (again by the big OP) tells us that it is two years after the first big adventure and the humans and Autobots have joined forces to find and finish off the last of the Decepticons. Like we couldn’t figure this out by watching them fighting side by side. To the beat of Linkin Park we get a big fight with lots of physics violating but cool looking moves by Autobots that flip onto two wheels and move like parkour roller bladers. There’s lots of explosions as bombs go off and helicopters crash. Basically the secret army guys are getting their butts kicked by the big and very bad ass D-boy. Then just as he’s about to get away, old Optimus comes hopping out of a jet and whups up on the baddie, who mumbles something about ‘the fallen shall rise' before he gets a Dirty Harry to the chest.

Cut from this to the home of the ever bumbling Sam Witwicky, who after the last 2 years is still in that awkward stage. He’s packing up to go to college. Mom’s a wreck. And hey he’s got a piece of the All Spark caught in the pocket of his lucky jacket (don’t ask). He picks it up and gets a Chuck like dose of some weird language (don’t worry we come back to that), then drops the piece which burns through the floor into the kitchen where it makes the appliances turn into, yep baby Decepticons. They reek a little havoc, but soon all is well (and scorched) and Sam is on his way to college.

There we meet his roommate who is just totally lame (but of course thinks he’s awesome). Sam have a freak out in a class and starts hoovering up info. But as if that wasn’t weird enough he starts writing that weird language everywhere like some kind of mental case. Which attracts the attention of the local hotness who tries to seduce Sam. Which of course leads to Mikaela walking in and thinking Sam is cheating on her. Hotness turns into a freaky robot warrior and tries to kill Sam, only to get her butt handed to her.

This all leads into Sam and Mikaela hooking back up with the Autobots. They head off Scooby style to figure out why someone wants Sam so bad, what the freaky language is all about and so on. In the midst of which we find out about the history of The Primes, including the outcast known as The Fallen. And about this big sun killing energy sucker weapon they have, which they conveniently left on Earth (in the middle of the Egyptian Desert). They race to it, find it of course and just barely stop the Fallen and the Decepticons from destroying the planet. All with lots more fights and explosions. Yeah.

More like bleech. The dialogue is horrid, the logic is lacking and please someone find a song other than “New Divide” to play. I like the song, but really. A thematic trope it is not. Especially when it doesn’t fit the mood of the scene. And it’s bad enough that the blender turned into a robot. But to make it sound like a poor imitation of a japanese kung fu character and then to have it humping folks legs. And then there's the jive talking twins. Seriously who brought the crack to set that day. And speaking of crack, I’m still trying to figure out how the location details could have been put into the All Spark if it was lost at sea like a million years ago (pre the Sun Killer Machine). Or what the heck that business with Sam being a human prime was all about. Total What The moment going on there.

If one can totally shut off all higher brain functions, Revenge of the Fallen is entertaining and certainly fits that sometimes amusing genre of the Summer Blockbuster. But the search for a meaningful, well written and enduring movie will not lead to this shelf in the video store. Revenge is better suited for the “need a new drinking game” quest. Cause being drunk might actually make this movie make sense.

Quick Facts
Released June 2009
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Peter Cullen
Notes: Sequel to Transformers (2007). Based on popular 1980s cartoon series. Peter Cullen was also the voice of Optimus Prime in cartoons.

Get it:
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Amazon CDMP3

Fun Stuff
Season One: iTunes

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