Wednesday, July 1, 2009

[Movie Review] Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Sequel to the 2007 morphing robots flick, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen reminds us that sequels should never leave the drawing board. Put simply, the film is over the top. The original had excessive amounts of special effects, lots of action a mildly worthwhile plot and a few corny jokes. Revenge of the Fallen has explosions coming out of its arse, barely time to breathe between action sequences, no plot nor sense and a slew of quick and fast corny jokes. I was about to say that the latest movie went for much too long, but it only beat its predecessor by six minutes. But it still seems much too long. Where in his first attempt at adapting the Hasbro toy line to the screen director Michael Bay’s style worked, this second installment makes his beloved special effects are downright annoying.

The actors don’t even try to make the ridiculous dialogue in the script flow. Every line is supposed to be some sort of pun or melodramatically meaningful. Humour is drawn from slightly disgusting sexual innuendo, jokes so corny they have children in them, and stereotypes. In the first film, the characters didn’t have much depth, which can be forgiven for its being an action movie, but the scripting of this installment seemed to want to show such attributes, for people who it surely did not exist. The plot is a hole that imploded on itself. For most sci-fi fantasy, I have to suspend my disbelief, for this I found I was suspending my belief, in logic. There are stereotyped characters a plenty in this foray into sci-fi. From the screaming mother, to the paranoid conspiracy believer, there’s even a black guy who I am sure is “just in this movie to say things like “damn!” And smile.” On top of that are the two robots who further portray African American stereotypes, though this is allegedly pure coincidence. It’s quite obvious that some actors, namely Megan Fox, are just there for eye candy. Her first scene wherein she is dressed in a leather jacket and denim micro shorts proves this. I thought that that would be more than enough of a display, but no, not for Michael Bay. Cue Megan for running in slow-mo for the latter half of the film, with a clean face despite her ever diminishing clothing.

The CGI was incredible; credit must be given to whoever made that. The stunning cogs of each automaton blew me away. Or they might have, if I was that at all interested in CGI. These effects are great, but one must understand that they alone cannot carry a movie. Such is the crux of Michael Bay, notorious for his indulgence into the computer generated scene. Every scene has a computer generated something or other. Unavoidable given the subject matter but still, highly orchestrated explosions, with helicopters flying every which way looks cool the first few times, but after the fourth or fifth explosion of the minute, it gets a bit gimmicky. It’s as though CGI was used because they couldn’t think of anything else to do. Let’s put lots of things on the screen, so the audience forgets that nothing of any value is actually happening. Good on the actors, though, for having to work so much with tennis balls on sticks for all of their scenes, bravo.

If we say the action is needed to identify with the target demographic, which judging by those around me is 14-20 year olds, it would be great it fit were coherent. To be perfectly honest I was in the front row of the cinema with the Xtreme screen, but I found myself having to look away from the mechanized violence on screen for a few seconds. My kingdom for a mounted camera. Seriously, the movie was shakier than The Bourne Ultimatum and at least in that the handy cam was used to an effect, for this it seems it was used just to disorientate and confuse. The final battle was so discernable that I saw the film only a few hours ago and I can’t tell you what happened, though I know Megan Fox ran in slow motion. The slo motion may have contributed to this, but the movie was so long. Its prequel came close to its finishing time, bt it wasn’t nearly as long. The reason: less drawn out melodrama and nonsensical robot fights. The movie clocks in at a mammoth two and a half hours for Pete’s sake.

Word is that Revenge of the Fallen is a contender in the up and coming Razzies, befittingly so. This sequel smeared the name of a movie that I considered the greatest film adaption of an 80’s children’s phenomena ever (yes, that means I thought Transformers > TMNT).

If you find my paragraphing difficult, I was attempting to imitate the storyboard.

And for the record, Megatron originally transformed into a Walther P38, not a lame-ass tank.

The Fallen is not megtron's boss in the real (animated) canon, Unicron is.

A funny excerpt from South Park, describing various directors styles: