Friday, July 03, 2009

How the mighty have fallen

It's no shocker that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is pumped with as much testosterone as a professional wrestler. After all, this is a movie directed by Michael Bay (who can't seem to make a movie without at least a dozen explosions per scene), featuring warring alien robots (who morph into sports cars and fighter jets and the odd kitchen appliance), macho military men (who brandish big guns and drive big tanks and blow up stuff on Michael Bay's cue), and Megan Fox (who shows off her ample assets to maximum effect from all possible angles).

But maybe partly because I had loved the first Transformers movie so much, this sequel was a bit of a relative disappointment. For one thing, it lacked the novelty of the previous film: the thrill of seeing the Autobots transform for the first time, recognizing familiar characters from the cartoon series, and generally feeling like a wide-eyed kid again. For another, everything in ROTF felt like a caricature: the alpha males in the army, Sam Witwicky's loopy (and hella annoying) mother, his nutty roommate, the token government suit who makes an ass of himself, even the ancient Decepticon-turned-Autobot Jetfire, depicted as a doddering old bucket of bolts. And was it just me, or was there one I'm-here-to-provide-comic-relief sidekick too many (did they really need the nutty roommate, the controversial twin Autobots Skids and Mudflap, AND John Turturro)? I should also mention that the romantic interludes between Shia LeBeouf and Megan Fox came off as contrived, in terms of both timing and temper. I seem to recall them having better chemistry in the first movie... or maybe Megan Fox really is just way too hot for SLB.

I'm not even going to go into the plot, which was equal parts convoluted and corny. But whereas the first Transformers film got by on characterization, ROTF fell flat in that department. The most believable and compelling character in the entire movie was Optimus Prime, and he's a CGI! As long as Optimus was in a scene, I was happy. I WASN'T happy about the other Autobots not getting enough screen time, with the exception of Bumblebee and the twins. Plus, they did include my favorite Deception Soundwave in this sequel, but he didn't really get to do-- and more critically, say-- much.

I can see how most people enjoyed ROTF: it's mindless entertainment at its most explosive (literally-- I haven't seen so much shrapnel in one movie!). But you will have to excuse me if I don't join in the chorus of raving, or the clamoring for a third Transformers film. This one felt pretty much like a dead end to me.

Postscript: If you've seen ROTF, or haven't seen it but don't care about spoilers, check out this list of the movie's flaws in logic from It's not that I wanna nitpick. I just like my movies to make sense, even the mindless ones.


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