Thursday, July 9, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen **1/2

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
**1/2 out of ****

Oh, Michael Bay, you crack me up. You make these movies, thinking they're the biggest and most epic things in the world, and they're really just little films that look like they're made by children. The only difference is, your childish films cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make. (And, I'll admit, have Oscar-worthy special effects. Which is hardly a saving grace.)
This sequel to the 2007 smash hit is pretty much the same as the first, just with a slightly different storyline. It starts out with Sam (the still-charming Shia LaBeouf) going off to college away from his hottie girlfriend Mikaela (the still-dull Megan Fox). If that sounds like a slightly interesting story, don't worry. He doesn't stay there long. The film quickly takes him away from college and instead chooses to put him in the middle of big action sequences that are much more interesting than boring ol' classes. The plot involves a robot stalking Sam, naturally in the disguise of a hot girl, and then them all going to Egypt to find some ancient key to stop an invading Decepticon inexplicably named the Fallen. All the important characters return, including the soldiers now fighting alongside the Autobots, Sam's wacky parents, neither of which can get a clue, and in a rare stroke of genius, Agent Simmons, former head of the now-debunked Sector 7. Bringing back John Turturro for the second half of the film is a welcome surprise and brings actual comic relief. A notable new character is Leo, Sam's new roommate, who is a pathetic coward and never opens his mouth without something stupid coming out. (I read the part was originally offered to Jonah Hill. I can easily imagine that.) All the robots are back, including Optimus Prime and Megatron- back from the dead- and even some new Autobot sidekicks. Two such sidekicks are incredibly annoying (and slightly offensive) twins named Wheelie and Skids, constantly fighting Autobots who have way too much screen time and bring nothing whatsoever to the film. They're both voiced by Tom Kenny, who also does Spongebob Squarepants, and you can tell it's him.
The film's main flaw is that it often drifts off into silliness, ignoring the story, the characters, and the running time in favor of sex jokes, drug jokes, and even robot testicle jokes. It's all incredibly childish and unnecessary, especially for an action movie that tries to be as big a deal as this one does. Also, the film goes on way too long, and could've done with a trim. Despite it dragging on way past the point where the audience has lost interest, it ends very suddenly, without wrapping anything up, leaving the audience slightly confused (assuming, of course, they were paying attention, which most people probably were not). LeBeouf's real-life hand injury is poorly written into the film and then just ignored, leaving the audience to wonder where they got the time to put such a big, bulky cast on his wrist.
Rainn Wilson has an amusing cameo as Sam's astronomy professor. (The late Bernie Mac had a similar such cameo in the first film.) Sam has a mental breakdown in his class, the result of touching a shard of the All Spark. Scenes like this remind us of how good an actor LaBeouf really is, and that he belongs in much better movies than these.
Most people see the film just for the giant robot fight scenes, in which the film has plenty of and delivers with pizzazz and headache-inducing camera pans. The film is watchable because of these lengthy fight scenes, which are really the whole point of making a movie like this. The potty jokes are put in between the fight scenes because the filmmakers can't think of anything else to entertain us with. Of course, there is the sweeping musical score and the awesome rock soundtrack, including an original song by Linkin Park. The band also contributed to the score; as an avid fan, I was thrilled.
Revenge of the Fallen is the perfect example of what a summer film has become: a giant mess of a movie with huge action scenes, eye-popping special effects, very little heart, and stupid dialogue with lines like "Let's roll." It also made an obscene amount of money, proving that audiences just don't care. These kinds of movies are said to be critic-proof, which means that whoever reads this review will either see the movie anyway or continue to love it despite my harsh words. Which, frankly, is the way it should be.
I would recommend this film to anyone who liked the first film, and people who like big, dumb action movies.

You can watch the trailer here:

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