BOOM! BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM! CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHUNK-CHONK. ZOOM!
That’s the recurring theme of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The giant robots from another planet are back, but this time, they range in sizes other than just giant. Nonetheless, it’s big, it’s loud, so get used to it!
But is it any good? Well, the answer just may very well surprise you.
Hit the jump to see my take on the movie. Oh, and as a warning, you should probably expect some spoilers. I’m going to attempt to keep them mild, but caveat … uh, whatever pig latin is for reader.
It’s a period of change. In the time since the end of the first movie, the Autobots on Earth have been working closely with the United States government in an attempt to root out any Decepticons lying around the world. In the meantime, Sam Witwicky, our plucky young human played by Shia LeBouf, will now be making his way to college. However, unbeknownst to them, an ancient Cybertronian evil, the Fallen, is here to lead the Decepticons to victory … and he just might win.
But is it any good? Well, yes and no.
A lot more time has been devoted to the robots, which is very good. Seeing as how they’re the catch of the movie and the true visual appeal (along with Megan Fox’s heaving breasts in slow motion), it’s good to see them up on screen-as it should be. The best part is that when the robots are good, they’re really good. Jetfire, the deus ex machina (deus ex robotica?) of the movie, is a hoot. Soundwave has been voiced by Frank Welker, the original cartoon’s voice actor for that series’s Soundwave and Megatron, along with a plethora of characters in classic 80’s cartoon history, including Dr. Klaw from Inspector Gadget.
There’s a feel to the movie that gives it almost an exotic look, despite there being, for the most part, only four key locations in the movie. Fans of the toys will have a fun time listening to all the fan service referenced in the movie: Matrix of Leadership, Seekers, Captain Wilder, a Pretender, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of the good points end. Revenge of the Fallen pushes the very limits of being a PG-13 movie. It’s a very, very violent movie. I daresay that if it weren’t for the fact that it’s giant robots beating the life out of each other, rather than humans, it would easily be an R-rated film. Optimus, the leader of the peaceful and benevolent Autobots, is a bad-ass robot. He has no qualms with shivving you with his wrist blades. If you are a Decepticon, expect to be shot first. No questions asked, but do enjoy that missile in the face. This creates a bit of an ethical quandary later on when two robots decide to switch factions.
It’s also easily the most Michael Bay-iest film of director Michael Bay’s career, mostly to its detriment. Given its predecessor, a grossly large amount of explosions is to be expected. But 360 degree spin shots? I counted a minimum of three. That’s four more than are ever ultimately needed. Also, there’s a largesse of crude humor. I’m not saying that all crude humor is bad, but do we have to have a shot of two dangling wrecking balls and then have someone comment on the “robot’s scrotum?” Sadly, the ending, if you can call it that, is just tacked on. There’s no set-up, no build-up, just end of battle, closing narration by Optimus, cue music in the middle of said narration, and BAM, the credits.
Probably the biggest problem with the film is that there’s just so much in it that doesn’t result in anything. Why was the Fallen just chilling out somewhere on another planet? How did he hook up with Starscream? Why did Blackout and Bonecrusher show up again, if they both died in the first film? Why was Bumblebee’s voice gone again, despite the ending of the first movie having a “Oh look, Bumblebee can talk like everyone else now” scene, a la “Hey guess what guys, Duke isn’t dead!” from GI Joe: The Movie? Where’s Barricade, the evil police car Decepticon from the first movie? If Devastator was hyped to be this super awesome colossal beast (and let’s face it, the gestalt was-see recent trailers from this week, or even the teaser trailer from this year’s Super Bowl to see why), then why was it taken down so fairly easily?
There’s just so much in the film that’s never needed. The Fallen, who sadly was not constantly on fire, has no explanation in the film. He’s just there, coincidentally enough. Unfortunately, the entire movie could have been done without him, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. That’s not good. Now, I know that some backstory was given to him thanks to the prequel comics put out by IDW in the last year or so, but what about anyone else? You can’t actually expect the average theater-goer to have read the comics, can you? No, and doing so would be improper.
Essentially, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a fun but flawed movie. Or, a flawed but fun movie, depending on your outlook in life. Seeing the movie with a crowd on opening weekend is the preferred way to watch the movie, simply for the visual and audial appeal from the audience, but seeing with the lowest of expectations is a must. Now, that’s not to say that Michael Bay isn’t the perfect director for the series. I will still go on record as stating that there is no better director for this franchise. If I want to see giant robots making things explode, I will champion for Bay, but the director’s trademarks shouldn’t be a massive problem of the film. It’s no surprise that I loved the first movie. I just wish that I could say the same for this one.