Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen review

One of the talked about summer blockbusters was "Transformers." Featuring ground breaking special effects (which I personally felt got the shaft at the Oscars), good action, and entertaining characters. Now granted, it wasn't a great film, but it was still entertaining, which people probably wouldn't have wanted any other way. I can assure that this was the case for "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," for better or for worse.

For those of you who don't know, the story is simple. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is ready to start a normal life and go to college, while most of the Autobots (Bumblebee excluded, acting as Sam's "guard" and car) act as an anti-Decepticon task force, along with members of the military. However, while examining an old jacket of his that he wore during the fight between Megatron (Hugo Weaving) and Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), a piece of the All-Spark is revealed to have been left. Upon touching it, he begins to see symbols and signs in his mind. Meanwhile, Decepticons bring back Megatron, who plans revenge to not only conquer earth, but give power to a Decepticon known as The Fallen, who is basically the one who started the group. With the Decepticons needing the All-Spark to find an object that can give them power, they decide to go after Sam, who has the information in his mind now. Aided by Mikaela (Megan Fox) and the Autobots, Sam must prevent the Autobots from finding this object and try to defeat them once and for all.

What I Liked

As I said, the first had amazing special effects. The effects were actually noticeably improved. The Transformers looked better than before, blending in better with the environments, and boasting a more real look to them. The carnage that ensued simply had me awestruck as well. The careful details they put into the destruction of environments, vehicles (especially the aircraft carrier you've seen in the trailer, which looks even better in the film), and even the Transformers themselves just made me stare in amazement. If you're watching this in IMAX, you're in for a real treat.

Also improved upon was the overall action. The first film had a fair amount of it, but it still felt like there wasn't enough at times for some because the amount of screen time of people overshadowed the Transformers. This time though, one would be hard pressed to feel there wasn't enough. It starts off with it and consistently gives it to the audience to never let them feel bored. Once again, it's a treat for those who watch the IMAX version as Bay apparently extended some of the battle scenes, which made it even sweeter.

The amount of Transformers was huge. They probably doubled the amount of Transformers present. When Bay said there would be more, he was NOT kidding. It was interesting to see how he made some of them, and I always looked forward to seeing some of them.

More back story was added to the Transformers this time around, showing more as to how the war between Autobots and the Decepticons started. One of the ones that intrigued me the most was "The Primes," which were a group of what some could consider the "elders" of the Transformers world.

I found the movie to be very funny. A lot of the dialogue was humorous, with some of the Transformers having interesting interactions amongst each other. Granted, a lot of it was cheesy, but it still made me laugh.

What I Didn't Like

This movie was meant to be entertainment, not some piece of art... which lead to many problems. There were a lot of things that jumped out at me, such as plot holes, editing problems, and other inconsistencies. For example, when someone (I won't say who) was tazed and rendered unconscious, yet five seconds later, he was awake and ready to go. These moments just jumped out at me and acted as a distraction.

Although it's good that there were more Transformers, there can always be too much of a good thing. This was definitely the case. A complaint of the first movie was that there weren't enough Transformers and too many two dimensional humans. This time, it was somewhat switched (except the two dimensional problem still stuck around). Many of these Transformers just acted as a fan service and served no purpose in appearing, if only to blow things up. Transformers like Soundwave, Arcee, and several others were just there. Unfortunately, the people suffered as well, as they were just taken down a notch in terms of development and quality. It made the movie feel... empty.

It doesn't matter if dialogue will make you laugh or not; if it's cheesy, it's cheesy, and this movie had a lot of it. The dialogue was worse in comparison to the first movie, which makes me think I might have been laughing at some of it for all the wrong reasons.

One of the things that bothered me was how two characters were made to be the most negatively stereotypical Transformers you could see. I had no problem with the characters... but the portrayal was something that was pretty offensive. There was an addition of two Transformers that some dub "The Twins" named Mudflap and Skid. These two were entertaining, but dear God... they were the most stereotypical "gangland" black guys that the media would ever seek to do news coverage on if a crime were to occur. They have the stereotypical talk, appearance (to make a point, they have big ears and one of them has buck teeth, one of them being gold), and even mention "that they can't read." I was just... shocked.

Things That Were a Mixed Bag

It seemed to me that the acting wasn't quite as good as the first movie for some of the actors. Shia LaBeouf was still decent overall, but there were moments that he felt somewhat flat and hurried with his dialogue. Megan Fox, who I thought did a fine job in the first movie, seemed a lot flatter as well this time. In my opinion, she did fine with the "emotional" scenes and moments where she treated a captive Decepticon like a pet, but as I said, the overall acting level amidst the actors was good, but just felt less decent in comparison to the first.

The music was also a mixed bag. On one hand, Hans Zimmer made a fitting score for the movie. However, there were a lot of moments were it seemed the music was just a variation of "New Divide" by Linkin Park. Every time I heard it, it just stuck out to me.


For those of you who watch Transformers, you know what you're watching it for: robots beating the metal and oil out of each other. This movie accomplished this to an even greater extent than the first accomplish. Unfortunately, in terms of overall quality, it was weaker as a film than the first one (which seemed somewhat difficult to do). It's because of this, I'm going to give the film to scores. If you want to just be entertained, this movie will do more than its fair share (I'd give it an 8/10 on an entertainment scale). If you're looking for an actual good movie, I'd recommend you stay away, lest you be bombarded by a myriad of problems. In short:

"Transformers: Rise of the Fallen" is an entertaining summer flick that's brought down by bad writing, disposable characters, and an fairly empty plot. - 4.5/10

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