TRANSFORMERS II: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN - 2009
Dreamworks / Paramount Pictures
Rated: USA: PG-13
When you're sitting in a packed theater crowd who has been waiting for 2+ hours, outside, to watch TRANSFORMERS II: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN at midnight - because all of the other shows sold out hours in advance - you are among HARDCORE TRANSFORMERS fans.
The movie begins and we see a bunch of cavemen. They do their cavemen thing in their racially mixed tribe (how the hell does that work out? No wait. This isn't science fiction, this is based on a toyline and cartoons - must remember that) and come across a mess o' robots. These bots aren't transformers yet, they're just living metal with their own primitive issues and a lot more metal muscle to back it up. The humans don't stand a chance. And of course, WE the audience doesn't stand a chance of avoiding a bunch of exposition voice-over by Optimus Prime, telling us what we are already looking at.
For example, we see a scene where some primitive humans come across a bunch of primitive transformers.
Optimus Prime voice-over: "Then one day, humans met transformers."
Well yeah, no shit!
Then we see them fight.
Optimus Prime voice-over: "There was a battle."
Anyway, it gets past this bit of bone-headed stupidity and the movie gets better. Much better! Then, just as it is getting really good, we learn that the movie is a reboot of itself. We are back to the first TRANSFORMERS movie where both the Decepticons and the Autobots are looking for the AllSpark! AGAIN!
"But wait!" you say. "Wasn't the AllSpark kinda destroyed or something in the first one?"
Yep, but good old Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf: I, ROBOT, TRANSFORMERS) has other pressing matters. He's about to go to school. Then all hell breaks loose in his house when he is unwittingly attacked by a Decepticon out of the blue. Sam doesn't realize that it has something to do with the shard of the AllSpark which he keeps as... a keepsake I guess. Funny how no one thought the Decepticons would return for that, since the whole first movie was about them fighting all across the planet and space for it.
This couldn't come at a worse time, since he IS leaving for college and his girlfriend, Mikaela Baines (Megan Fox: TRANSFORMERS) is worried that ol Sam will get the roving eye and loins. I grant you that in real life, Shia is a schlub that someone like Megan wouldn't give a second glance toward (just like the two actors in real life) but bear in mind that Sam Witwicky IS the savior of the human race, and that kinda carries weight! Kinda hard to compete with that. Especially since the only other strong male in Mikaela's life is her Pop, who is an ex-con, on probation, selfish manchild.
Meanwhile the Decepticons are in the background plotting. They keep small goofy bots in the foreground to spy on things, but there are far bigger things going on in space and elsewhere.
And speaking of small goofy bots, there are two hip-hop, gangsta smack talkin' ("I'm gonna pop a cap in his ass!") illiterate bots, Mudflap (Reno Wilson: FALLEN) and Skids (Tom Kenny: ANIMATRIX, KAENA) that apparently are there to illustrate just how much Michael Bay thinks modern black stereotypes are outrageously funny*.
Sam: "Can you read this?"
Skids: "Read? Uh. Uh."
Mudflap: "We don't really do much readin'."
So the Decepticons wreak all kinds of pointless havoc. One of them humps Mikaela's leg like a horny dog, another one turns out to have wrecking balls for testicles, a third one farts, and before you know it, Megatron has returned to life and is out to retrieve the AllSpark that has superimposed itself on Sam's brain.
For a lame 2 and a half hour movie, this might have been a pretty good hour and a half movie. Unfortunately, Bay goes to the well way too many times with a ton of robot battles that are so close-up and blurred you can't tell if there is a fight going on or just a transformation, and who if anyone is winning. Then the fighting stops, the combatants go their separate ways, both promising a rematch, and in a few minutes things are exploding and robots are fighting again. Remember the long drawn out and repetitive to the point of yawning boredom fight scenes in THE MATRIX: RELOADED and THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS? Recall the blurry to the point of anger shaky cam in films like the last two BOURNE movies? That's every fight scene in TRANSFORMERS II: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.
Into all of this, writers Ehren Kruger (SCREAM 3, IMPOSTOR, THE RING [both U.S. versions], THE SKELETON KEY, THE BROTHERS GRIMM), and the team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (THE ISLAND, TRANSFORMERS, FRINGE [TV], STAR TREK), attempt to paste on some genuine human interaction. But director Michael Bay just isn't up to it. I don't know the man personally so I'm not commenting on him as a human being. But Michael Bay wouldn't know how to direct genuine human compassion if it died crying in his arms.
Pixar children's movies can get me misty over certain scenes like in MONSTERS, INC. and THE INCREDIBLES. The supposedly touching moments between Sam and his parents, Sam and Michaela, Sam and Bumblebee, Sam and Optimus Prime, and just the potential danger to Sam's life, were as ham-fisted as a tin of Spam.
Anyone who knows me or just reads my reviews, knows that I'm a sap for Big Horror movies and I've given high ratings to movies about massive monsters that probably didn't deserve them (Hey, I like what I like and you like what you like!). For a fact, I was with Bay and TRANSFORMERS II: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN until around the halfway point, when the repetition of way too many cars thrown and exploded everywhere; military craft thrown and exploded everywhere; humans thrown and, in some cases, exploded everywhere, and the never-ending blur of overly intricate robots trying to out-silly-ass each other. All while the story attempts to be taken super serious over the impending doom of humanity. Michael now says he made this for the kids and I can respect that (look kids! You can see her ass crack! Look kids! Wrecking ball testicles! Ha! ha! Have some more Jesus juice.). But that wasn't what he originally wanted to do. During production, Michael was talking up an R-rated TRANSFORMERS, but Hasbro toys sure as hell is never going to let that happen. And I don't know any kids who will sit still for 2 and a half hours of this shit.
Two Shriek Girls.
copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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Before there was TRANSFORMERS:
there was TRANSFORMERS:
(the difference is in the decade.)
I'm hardly the only one to notice.
Bay Defends the Racial Stereotypes in Transformers 2
The Movieline Nine: Most Shameless Aspects of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
"Among the criticisms leveled at Michael Bay's rock 'em, sock 'em Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are charges that two of Bay's secondary robot characters, Mudflap and Skids, promote offensive racial stereotypes. The director doesn't disagree - he just doesn't see anything wrong with it."
And just in case you think Michael is making some kind of social commentary, this is the depth of his consciousness when explaining it.
"We're just putting more personality in, I don't know if it's stereotypes - they are robots, by the way."
Yes Michael, we understand they are cartoon "robots, by the way". Would you even notice if they were cartoon crows instead?