Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Originally published on on Jun 24, '09

Word of warning: This movie feels about 3 hours, though the Net says it's only 2 and a half. It was scheduled to start at 5:20 pm and when we left around 10 till 8, they were just getting to the final battle between Prime and the big bad. I'll be watching it again tomorrow (and twice again this weekend) so no biggie.

Honestly, I went into Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen fully expecting to hate it. I haven't been a fan of Michael Bay since The Rock. Much like Tony Scott, he seems to be a one-trick pony that doesn't want to veer from what he's always done. Fortunately for us, that one-trick seems to work a lot better in his sequel to the 2007 blockbuster than it did the first time around.

It still has much of the same problems: over-abundance of characters, the irritatingly active camera, lack of any real character development for the robot characters, and obvious continuity problems. Anyone who has half a brain will find it hard NOT to have some kind of internal dialogue going on during the show, asking questions. For one, why are Blackout (don't give me that "He's a different character" nonsense) and Bonecrusher still there? Weren't they scrapped in the first film? Why are there still Constructicons running around the battlefield while Devastator is doing his thing? And what the F*** is Jetfire doing with a cane and a scottish brogue? It's as bad as Grievous' tuberculosis in Star Wars.

Now that that's out of the way... I liked it.

Revenge of the Fallen is an action picture. Scratch that, it's a summer action picture. No, scratch THAT. It's a summer action picture by MICHAEL BAY. Yeah it's all about the hot girls, nice cars, big robots, and action sequences, but ask yourself, "Isn't that what you paid for?". You knew it going in, why complain. Turn off your brain, reduce yourself to his level and start enjoying your 200 bucks.

The action sequences are the same as the first movie, with hyper-kenetic camera work in the effects sequences, slow-mo highlights, 360 shots (god, I am so tired of this), and lots and lots of explosions. Difference is, they're a lot longer and were more satisfying. They pulled the camera out a bit and framed the action to give you a clearer picture of what was happening. The standoff in the forest with Prime versus 3 Decepticons had me cheering. It was almost as good as his arrival on Earth in the Animated Movie.

There is no character development at all (except for Starscream, who gets to act like his cowardly self), not even with Prime or Megatron. If you're looking for the deep dialogue and lots of complicated twists and turns, you're in the wrong movie. Remember that this whole franchise was based on what were basically 30 minute long toy commercials. I liked the direction they went here, sticking more closely to canon.

Instead of some ineffable "cube", the Decepticons are looking for energy. Pure and simple. They've built a machine that'll destroy the Earth and turn it into energon, and the key they need is the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. The Fallen is basically the same as he was when he was introduced in the comics; one of the first robots created who turned on his brothers. In this version he's got a mentor/mentee relationship with Megatron that resembles the Unicron/Galvatron partnership. Or it would if there was actually characterization. Fans will see the parallels with the the cartoon and the Animated Movie.

Is it a faithful adaptation? No. But it's far more satisfying than the excuse for a plot they had in the first one. One still gets the feeling that during the pitch, Bay was saying stuff like "Devastator's climbing up the Pyramid..." and "Demolisher is rampaging through Shanghai while Sideswipe is chasing that Audi..." and "so she sits on his lap and there's this upskirt shot while they're frenching and a tail folds out of her dress..." and then he just asked his script doctors to just put all those set pieces together when he gets the greenlight.

What? upskirt?

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