Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen - Review

Two years ago I got one of my dreams fulfilled, seeing Transformers brought to life for the big screen in a high budget, live action, extravaganza. At the time, the comic book geek in me, considered it possibly the greatest movie I had ever seen. Fast forward to two years later and in hindsight I realise maybe I was exaggerating ever so slightly. The film was not the perfect Transformers film I had dreamed and hoped for, though my criticisms are, perhaps not, ones of genuine critique but more a case of fan boy rants I could not deny that Transformers was a hell of a lot of fun. Fast forward to 2009 and in practically no time at all the good folks at Dreamworks have delivered its sequel, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. Returning once again is the mighty and noble Optimus Prime (voiced once again by Peter Cullen) as he leads his heroic Autobots against the evil forces of the Decepticons lead by the sinister Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving), also returning is the film's main (human) protagonist played by America's on form young lead, Shia LeBouf along with his extremely gorgeous and frankly unrealistic girlfriend played by Megan Fox, as well as the first instalment's larger than life director Michael Bay.

Whether you love or hate Mr. Bay (I'm always verging on the latter admittedly), you got to give him credit, when it comes to special effects, huge action pieces and just simply blowing crap up he is very very good at it, so you know when it comes to him making a sequel that he is going to make far more explosions, have far more action and with a bigger budget have a hell of a lot more special effects, meaning of course in this instance, far more robots. As you can imagine Transformers 2 is a bigger scarier version of its predecessor and is completely unrelenting from beginning to end. The story takes place approximately two years after the events of the first movie, where Optimus Prime and the Autobots have settled on our world and in conjunction with military forces have sought out to eliminate the Decepticon threat once and for all, of course after a close encounter with a rather large Decepticon in the film's jaw dropping and fan boy spunking opening sequence, revelations unravel that set our story into motion. One negative criticism I have always had with Michael Bay films is that the plot usually suffers at the hands of the special effects, however with Revenge Of The Fallen I applaud Bay and his screenwriters for giving serious thought and insight into the development and history of the Transformers as a race even if their execution was a bit clumsy at times.

The human cast as with the original movie, served their purpose to the overall plot, Shia LeBouf once again showed us how versatile an actor he is becoming with some great comic timing and some genuine heartfelt moments, as with the returning heroic soldiers of the piece played by Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson (arguably under used this time round...) though all of them were outclassed by the frankly outstanding and grossly under rated John Turrturo (who coincidently also voices the Transformer, Jetfire). As for Miss Fox, it would be so easy for anyone to tear into her acting skills since she is such a pretty face but as she openly admits herself, she knows fine well why she is in this movie and it is not to win an Oscar. They are all however merely stage props to the real stars of the show, Optimus Prime and Megatron (who are greatly developed and given far more screen time), though whether its Autobots or Decepticons you always got a sense of awe when they arrive on screen, and there is at least five huge action pieces that truly demonstrate the limitless potential of computer generated imagery (brought to us by the talented lads at ILM), progressing leaps and bounds even since the first instalment. With roughly 50+ robots in the movie, fans who maybe thought they were short changed on the human:robot ratio last time round will be fully satisfied with Revenge Of The Fallen.

Negatives you ask? There were a few. Though I personally loved the humorous aspect that was included in the first movie, the second takes it possibly a tad too far at times for the tone Bay was trying to set with the film (that said it did not stop me from laughing out loud several times), miles darker than the first movie, almost achieving that degree of hopelessness you get when you see the Autobots getting killed all over the show within the original 1986 animated movie. Though, as already mentioned, there were tonnes more robots you never really get a chance to properly engage with some of the new characters on offer, especially one of my favourite Transformers of all, the darkly sinister Soundwave as well as the much hyped appearances of Devastator and of course the villain within the title, the mysterious Fallen. Finally though I did not want to admit this as a criticism it could have possibly been a fraction shorter, with possibly one sub-plot too many including some characters that were not necessary to the overall plot such as Sam's paranoid conspiracy theorist room-mate played by Ramon Rodriguez and the Decepticon human/hybrid Alice (actually the entire college sequence as a whole could have been completely left out...). And of course we come to Mr Bay, who as mentioned countless times already delivers his main strength of the huge set pieces, but unfortunately once again dives into the same pitfalls of a few inconsistencies and plot holes that are painfully evident throughout the movie, which for a movie this size there is absolutely no excuse for.

Final Thoughts

Bigger, darker and far more intense than the first movie, this was the "Empire Strikes Back" of the Transformers movies and one that gives the audience everything they would want from a tale where you have giant robots kicking the crap out of each other, however it was far from perfect, with too many basic film making errors and even poorer characters to ultimately drag it down. When Michael Bay made the first film he just about got away with all these imperfections, however with TF:ROTF he has created a louder far more offensive beast than even the most die hard of fan could possibly justify. Just like with his only other sequel Bad Boys 2, he has managed to take everything that was fun about its predeccessor and shove it in your face so hard that you can not bear it any longer. Yet another chapter in the tragic warped world of Michael Bay.


See this if you liked...

Transformers, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Independence Day *insert other alien invasion movies here*.

Good for a pub quiz...
  • Frank Welker, the voice of Soundwave, was the original voice of the character in the cartoon back in 1984 as well as the original voice of Megatron.
  • During filming Shia Lebouf damaged his hand in a car crash, watch out for this discretely incorporated into the film.
  • The character Alice is a nod to a line of Transformers known as Pretenders
  • The Fallen never appeared in the cartoon, but is adapted from the comics.

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