Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

transformers-revenge-of-the-fallen

Well it’s our first really big review here on Everything Action as both Brian and I give our impressions of the box office juggernaut that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  Before I get into my thoughts I’ll just do a quick rundown of the plot in case you haven’t seen it (which is very few of you probably).  Oh, one more thing, spoilers are on.  So anyway, it’s two years since we left our heroes and the Autobots have joined forces with the US military to form NEST.  Their mission is to hunt down Decepticons and take them out.  Decepticon activity is increasing and it’s because the Emperor Palpatine-esque Fallen is ready to come back and take revenge on Earth.  Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is off to college but finds a shard of the All Spark before he leaves, he starts seeing symbols, which we find out point to the location of an ancient machine used to harvest Energon.  This sends everyone off on adventures around the globe, finally ending up in Egypt.  All right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty shall we?

Zach’s Take:

I went to Revenge of the Fallen a little worried since the amount of hate for this movie was at a level that’s usually reserved for people like Hitler.  It’s like Michael Bay personally raped these people in the eyes or something.  I found ROTF to be a fun summer action movie, it’s the kind of spectacle the summer is made for.  I’ll go into some negetives first and then talk positives.  First on the con side is that the movie is probably too long.  Michael Bay always seems to have this problem: Bad Boys II was like 2hrs and 30 minutes and I believe ROTF is around 2h40m or something like that.  There are a couple of scenes that could have definitely used an editor, specifically the college sequence and the exploring Egypt sequence.  The college sequence is easily the lowest point of the movie as we’re introduced to two of the dumbest characters in the movie, Sam’s roommate Leo, who runs a Transformers conspiracy theory website and the poor man’s Terminatrix Alice.  As if this isn’t enough Sam’s mom somehow buys a pot brownie and proceeds to freak out all over campus.  Julie White was OK in the first movie but she’s ridiculously over the top and annoying in this one but fortunately Sam’s parents are only in the first 20 minutes or so until they show up at the end.  There’s also a pretty bad party scene that was written by people who clearly have no idea what college is like.  The only saving grace is a brief cameo by Rainn Wilson as a lascivious Astronomy professor.  The aforementioned Egypt scene seems to go on forever as well until the end battle starts.

The other real complaint I would have is that there is probably too many Transformers in this one.  The first one had 5 on 5 and introduced everyone so you knew who was doing what.  This one starts with (a really good) action sequence in Shanghai but just throws random new Autobots out there without any mention of who they are (well they do mention the Arcee Twins, even though there are three of them, oops!)  If you hadn’t read any info beforehand you would definitely be lost about who is who and who is doing what.  This problem is magnified at the end when dozens of Decepticons land in Egypt but are mainly just there to be cannon fodder.  Robots are getting blown up left and right but you kind of don’t really give a shit, it just looks cool.

That’s not to say that all the Transformers weren’t interesting.  Optimus Prime has always been the heart of the franchise and he doesn’t disappoint here.  Peter Cullen could pretty much say anything and I would probably believe it.  I really enjoyed the fact that Megatron and Starscream’s relationship was explored more than the first one.  In the cartoon it was pretty clear that the two of them hated each other and the only reason Starscream followed Megatron was that Megatron would blow the shit out of him if he tried anything.  Starscream is just as weaselly in ROTF.  The Fallen was an interesting idea in that he was pretty much the Emperor of the Decepticons and was voiced awesomely by Tony Todd but ultimately didn’t really pay off when it came to throwing down.  The Twins weren’t nearly as bad as everyone was saying they were, yes they speak in stupid slang but I think they’re supposed to be like teenage Transformers and that’s how the kids these days talk.  I was really glad that Wheelie wasn’t as annoying as his cartoon counterpart and actually thought it was kind of funny that he had a Joe Pesciesque voice.  Finally, my boy Soundwave, didn’t really do much but it put a big smile on my face to hear Frank Welker’s awesome voice exactly like the cartoon version.  Speaking of Soundwave, I though Ravage was pretty awesome in the movie as well.  Hopefully Soundwave gets to kick some ass in Transformers 3.

We all know that Michael Bay can’t do drama (which I believe Brian will point out later) but he knows how to create some great action.  The highlight of the entire movie has to be a battle in the woods between Optimus and Megatron, Starscream and Black Out.  I think the key is that it’s far enough away so you can clearly see what’s going on and the spotlight isn’t on Sam (who’s just trying to run away).  Optimus manages to take out Black Out with some double sword action but is ultimately “killed” by Megatron.  I’m pretty sure that’s a nod to the original cartoon movie as well.  The beginning action sequence in Shanghai is good as well, with Optimus again being bad ass.  The final battle in Egypt is probably a little too long but there are highlights like Devastator first forming and Optimus combining with the old geezer Jetfire.

At the end of the day I was entertained throughout and I think this is really what the summer is all about, spectacles you can’t see any other time of the year.  It’s not the crime against humanity like people are making it seem and it’s far from Michael Bay’s worst movie (you still got it Pearl Harbor!) but if you want some fun action then you can’t really go wrong with Transformers 2.

3.5 out of 5

Brian’s Take:

I’d be understating it if I said that I wasn’t anticipating the new Transformers movie. I enjoyed the first one to an extent — it worked as a good action movie, but I was unable to take it seriously. (Yeah, I know, taking a movie about talking transforming alien robots seriously, not a good idea.) After watching “Revenge of the Fallen”, I got the impression it was more of the same. Bigger, louder, more bots, more explosions, more classic Michael Bay.

The first half-hour was atrocious in my mind. Sure, the Shanghai action scene was pretty cool, but everything involving Sam was downright farce. Okay. It’s a popcorn movie. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. But it does it really have to be this cliched? I thought the low point was Megan Fox dry humping a motorcycle, until Sam’s mom ate pot brownies and went crazy. (Hi-larious!) Then the college boys go to a frat party that is so stereotypical, I felt like Michael Cera was going to awkwardly come out at any moment.

But, alas, the humans aren’t really the focus of the movie (thankfully), so the wooden acting and lame dialogue are forgiven by a great backstory about the Transformers interactions with Earth and the return of the Fallen. Bay does action so well that he shouldn’t delve into anything else. The action seems fresh, but the drama and plot progression seems stale. There were some jaw-dropping moments in “Fallen”, but nothing blew my mind and eyes as the effects in the first movie. It didn’t help that the ending Egypt scenes were practically an hour long.

So was it a good movie? Eh, I guess. It works as an enjoyable action film, but unlike, say “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight”, it’s unable to balance action and smarts. (I blame Michael Bay.) I know I shouldn’t demand too much from a Transformers movie, but I shouldn’t be disgusted at times also. A summer escape, and nothing more.

2.5 out of 5

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