Thursday, June 25, 2009

Movie Review : Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

This has been quite the Transformers week for me. First, I’ve been watching Season One of the original series, then the finale of All Hail Megatron in the comics, and yesterday we went to see Revenge of the Fallen. How was it? My feelings on the movie were a bit complicated but overall, I enjoyed it. Click below for more (spoilers ahead) :

Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Written by Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci & Ehren Krueger
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro

This is a big budget, Michael Bay action movie and if you walk in expecting that (like I did) you will definitely not be disappointed. There were distinct good and bad points which I’ll go over in a minute and I will lose my fanboy membership card for what I’m going to say about Megan Fox.

This movie introduces MANY more Autobots and Decepticons, most of which were very well done. On the Autobot side, we get Sideswipe (who was badass and rather underused in my opinion), Arcee and two other motorcycles who don’t get names in the movie, and then….”The Twins”, more on them later. Bolstering the ranks of the Decepticons, we have an appearance by Soundwave who has always been one of my favorites so I was worried about how he would be handled, which was not bad. The voice of Soundwave was handled by veteran voice acting god and original Soundwave actor Frank Welker. A bit more Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget than G1 Soundwave, but it worked well. Ravage shows up and was easily my favorite new Decepticon, and then the Constructicons who eventually get together to create Devastator.

There are also a few real people in the film! I know it’s hard to tell but the real actors in the film do a decent job, except for one whose name rhymes with Megan Fox, but we’ll talk about that later. Shia LaBeouf is basically himself with a bit of humor and decent action skills, while I could have done without his comic relief roommate. John Turturro is hilarious, reprising his role as Agent Simmons (S7 is no longer inexistence so he runs a deli with his mother). Sam’s parents steal the show in the beginning with their comedic performances. I was laughing out loud during the scenes where they are packing Sam up for college and when they get to the school. Excellent cameo by Rainn Wilson (aka Dwight Schrute) as a college professor, as well.

So here we go with some Good and Bad points :

The Good

The sound design is far improved over the first movie, you can actually understand what the robots are saying, especially Starscream and Megatron (yes, he’s back in case you already didn’t know.)

The locations are much more interesting. The movie kicks right off with a battle in and around a Chinese factory complex (which I know was in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania but it’s dressed well). We then move to New York City, Egypt, Jordan and there is a phenomenal fight scene in a forest area that gives you a great sense of scale for these giant robots.

The fight scenes are incredible. Bay really steps up the action here. In one scene, Optimus Prime takes on 4 Decepticons on his own and really shows off some serious fighting moves.

Wheelie & Sideswipe are my new favorite Autobots. I thought Wheelie would be kind of annoying, but the humor worked for me. Especially since he starts out as a Decepticon and the scene where he realizes that he can just change sides is very funny. Sideswipe shines in the opening fight scene in China, as he nimbly glides around like a ninja and uses swords instead of guns to literally slice a Decepticon in half.

Ravage was my new favorite Decepticon. He actually does eject from Soundwave’s chest which made me smile and he had guns attached to his hips. Although he doesn’t start out as a cassette, since most of the 15 year olds in the audience would have been lost at that point. Since Soundwave is now a satellite, Ravage starts out as some sort of probe. The movement and viciousness of Ravage was handled well and he appears in the movie quite a bit.

Devastator brings the destruction. That was one gigantic-ass robot. The scene where he climbs the Great Pyramid and begins smashing it like one of the monsters in the classic videogame Rampage was excellent. I just wish that Devastator fought more actual Autobots, but oh well.

The Fallen was handled well as a character. He gives you some insight into how the old school Transformers functioned. I thought he was very underused, given that his name is in the title, but the movie was already crammed so full of plot lines that there wasn’t much room.

The Bad

“The Twins”,who were two small immature robots that are in there for nothing more than comic relief. I have to admit that they weren’t as annoying as I thought they would be, but their urban slang, and distorted appearances became old really quickly…one of them even has a gold tooth. Seriously. I understand why they are in there, to appeal to the teenage crowd, but since I’m not one of them (by a long shot) I’m not interested.

The movie is about 20-30 minutes too long. It clocks in at over 2 and a half hours, which I usually don’t have an issue with, but I did here. First thing I’d cut? See “The Twins” above :-)

A female Decepticon shows up that looks like a human girl and then can change into a human sized robot. This comes completely out of nowhere and I’m not even going to begin to get into how strange this was, especially with zero explanation.

Megan Fox was completely and utterly useless in this movie except to have her bent over a motorcycle or running in slow motion in tight shirts. Don’t get me wrong, I know why she’s in the movie, it’s just that she has no actual acting skill and contributes nothing to the film besides eye candy.

And here is my crazy little nitpick : Why can Josh Duhamel not talk on electronic devices? In the first movie he risks his life in order to place a phone call to the Pentagon and once it connects he throws the phone to Tyrese Gibson. Here he manages to get a radio and after running through gunfire, does the same thing. I know it is a psychotic little nitpick, but it really stood out to me for some reason.

I’ll end the Good / Bad routine there. Like I said, if you go into it expecting a Michael Bay action movie where there are huge explosions with people diving away in slow motion, you’ll have a great time. If you are a fanatical Transformers fan who dislikes change and you didn’t like the first one, you will probably hate this movie.

Oh by the way, see if you can pick out the cameo appearance by a Sharkticon, and I really could have done without seeing Devastator’s balls. And Jetfire shows up! Every Transformers fan loves Jetfire, and I think he is handled well here; I’m just not sure where he picked up the accent. Oh well…

I’ll give Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen 3.5 stars out of 5. Fantastic action and the robots look great, just a bit long and a bit too much juvenile humor. I understand this movie isn’t targeted towards 34 year old comic book guys so I’ll let it slide

One side note for parents of young children, the language in this movie pushes the upper limit of PG-13, so if you are sensitive to this for your kids, definitely go watch it first. It amazes me how many people will take a 9 year old to a PG-13 movie, and then complain about the content even though they didn't pre-screen it themselves.

1 comment:

Heretic said...

Yeah, Megan Fox can flush herself down the toilet along with her acting skills...or lack there of. Im really excited to see the film though!