Friday, 3 July 2009

23: Review - Transformers RotF

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.


TRANSFORMERS: Revenge of the Fallen
2009, 150mins, Dir. Michael Bay

Put Simply: Robots beat the shit out of each other for two and a half hours. What's not to love?
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro.

Yeah, I know you don't really need me reviewing Transformers2 to decide if you want to see it or not. That decision will have already been made when you saw the trailer. If you saw the first movie, you know exactly what to expect. If you saw the trailer for the second one... you know exactly what to expect: things getting blown up for an extended period of time with no 'real' plot.

That's not to malign the plot of Revenge of the Fallen, I think it works just fine for the movie, but a lot of reviewers have seemingly had some gripe about it being a wafer-thin excuse to show robots fighting. And? Didn't you see the first one? If you forgave the narrative in favour of the effects in the first movie, you can hardly expect the sequel to be fucking Pride and Prejudice, can you?

Anyway, let's get the obvious one out of the way first, shall we? Megan Fox. I don't really get what all the fuss is about. I mean, she's very pretty, and incredibly fit, but in a kind of... dull way. Her personality doesn't seem to shine through in these movies (haven't seen her in anything else), and she delivers a lot of her lines in a clunky, uncomfortable manner. I think the other thing that makes me look blankly at her is she reminds me too much of Stacey from Eastenders. For those not familiar with Stacey, her character arc is basically to act nice, act like a scheming arsehole, go mental, then try and act nice again. Not a lot of 'nice' time. Puts you off liking the character. And sadly, when Megan under-acts the way she does, I just see a thinner, prettier version of Stacey. Don't believe me?

Oh, and that's the other thing, check out Megan Fox's thumbs. Crikey.

ANYWAY, back to the movie; it does exactly what it says on the trailer. It's one-part exposition, one-part talky quiet scenes, and five-parts smashing the fuck out of everything. In this respect, it's an absolute winner! And while I liked the humour again, I could have done without Sam's parents turning up every half-hour and shouting. They didn't seem to have a lot to do in this movie, but I figure Michael Bay had to justify their contracts? Other than that, Shia LaBeouf, John Turturro and Josh Duhamel are as good (or bad, or adequate, delete as necessary) as last time round, and it was nice to have a relatively linear plot this time. That sub-plot with the hackers in the first movie seemed a bit tacked-on to me, as entertaining as it was.

What really had me geeking out wasn't the mish-mashing of existing Transformers history, but the Indiana Jones references. If you recall, Indy 4 came out the year after the first TF film, during Shia's rise to A-List status. It's hard to say which role has raised his profile more, and there are several references to his Mutt Williams character.

The college that Sam Witwicky moves to in TF2 looks suspicously like Marshall College from the Indy movies. Of course, this is probably a pretty generic design for the American architecture of educational establishments, but there's also a reference to the Marcus Brody statue that served in memory of Denholm Elliot:

(Apologies for the shitty screnshots by the way, I got them from the internets. I do not condone shitty cam-jobs for ANY movie, but especially for a movie as awesome as Transformers.)

While the above is a pretty obvious reference for geeks like me, the next two were a little more subtle. There's a scene where Sam's got his black leather jacket and white t-shirt on, and uses a massive knife (for some reason) to carve glyphs into the earth. Reminded me very much of Mutt's blade fixation:

And again in the 'bottle house' when Sam and Mikaela are hiding from the Decepticons. Sam finds (again, for some reason) a saber blocking a hole in the wall. I guess the Egyptian villagers had run out of Polyfilla? Whatever the reason, it reminded me once again of Mutt Williams.

One question: I've got no problem with the Transformers speaking English, with their electronic brains it'd be easy enough to pick up and translate for their dealings with the humans, but why do they have such varying accents? When they break into the Smithsonian Air Museum and break out JetFire, it turns out he's got a Brummie accent. Did he have this when he was speaking Cybertronian? By the time we meet him in the film he's a fairly light-hearted character (best quote: "Bollocks!"), but he's meant to be an ex-Decepticon. Watching him in action would be like watching Timothy Spall fly into a rage wrapped in tin-foil.

One problem: I'd heard that Jazz was going to be back, and he was going to be the white Porsche 935 like in the old days. We got neither! :(

Other than those observations, there's not much more to be said about the film. It's probably a little long, but had it been shorter I'd only be wishing for an extended DVD version. Fuck it, I'd watch an extended version anyway :p

Nice little references to Gremlins and the Vader/Emperor dynamic make this a two-and-a-half-hour geek fest, but if you're not that way inclined, you can just watch things being blown up in an extended toy-advert ;)

I reckon: 8/10.

See this in the cinema, because it'll lose a lot of impact in the transition to your TV. Unless you're my best-mate's mum, who has a 50" plasma in a 54" room.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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