Thursday, June 25, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Most reviews I've seen so far seem to go off on the film for nothing more than being a Michael Bay film, as if none of us have ever seen one before. You've seen Michael Bay films before, so you know what to expect. If you liked the first film, you're probably going to like this one. If you didn't, then you won't.

There are lots of things that can be criticized about the film, but few reviews seem to actually go into any of that, instead going off on tangents about how much plastic surgery Megan Fox must have had, how Hummer has been sold to the Chinese, and how Obama is portrayed in the film (here's a hint to the clueless reviewers, he isn't in it!)

So with that in mind I felt it was time for me to do my own review. I'm limiting this to things that aren't really spoilers (although if you can't stand anything at all being revealed, then just stop reading here, and particularly stay away from #4 in things I don't like). There are certain specific things about the plot that I both liked and disliked, but I won't get into that here.

Here's what I didn't like about it:

1) Frenetic editing in action scenes is one thing, but circling the camera around Megan Fox and Shia LeBeuf a half dozen times as they stare into each other's eyes just made me dizzy.
2) Coeds can be hot, but they don't all look like they're getting ready to go on stage at MBOT. The college scenes are ridiculous. I guess the idea is to make it plausible that Shia might be tempted to wander from a hottie like Fox, but it just looks ridiculous.
3) Was Lucas involved in this? Why do we have "ghetto" speaking autobots? It's the return of Jar Jar, but with a thankfully smaller amount of screen time. Also, unlike Jar Jar, they do actually get a couple lines worth a chuckle, but it's not a fair exchange for all the others that induce winces.
4) Obligatory government bureaucrat. It seems we always have to have one of these guys around to keep the good guys from doing their jobs, only he's not really needed here. He doesn't prevent the good guys from doing anything. He's a cliche that the plot doesn't even need (and is why we get all the pointless meanderings from reviewers about Obama).
5) Megan Fox's boobies. OK, like #2, I realize this could go in the plus column, but not when it's done in such a ridiculous manner with shot after shot of slow motion jiggle as she runs from Decepticons. If the director is that obsessed with her chest he should just go for the R rating and show her topless in a sex scene.

Here's what I did like about it:

1) Autobots kick ass. In the first movie they were pretty weak. It usually took multiple Autobots to hold their own against single Decepticons. Apparently they've been doing some intensive training since then, because in this movie the situation is often reversed. When they do end up on the losing end it's only because of being massively outnumbered.
2) The human military kicks ass, and gets its ass kicked. NEST shows why the Autobots think it's worthwhile to work with the humans instead of on their own, but at the same time shows what happens when soft and squishy humans and their primitive tech fight giant metal robots. It's good old fashioned John Wayne style heroism. No blood or gore, just lots of explosions and broken toys.
3) The fight scenes are long. This is a criticism from many reviewers, but it's a plus for me. It's why I go see these movies. It's just fun to watch all the special effects.

My conclusion is that it was a fun movie despite its flaws. If you liked the first one, then go see it. If you didn't like the first one, then go see something else.

Edit: it turns out Obama is in the film, very briefly. It turns out that Michael Bay briefly met the man before he was President, was impressed with him as a person, and chose to include him in the film more as a tribute than anything else. Any discussions as to the presence of a political message in the film still misses the point of the film, which is pure entertainment.

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