Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

The writers behind the first Transformers movie in 2007 and the more recent "Star Trek" movie have once again made another blockbuster popcorn movie that is completely disposable. Full of cheap laughs, explosions, and shots of Megan Fox's cleavage (seriously, I kept waiting for her shirt to come off in all those scenes where she's running) it's exactly what you'd expect. That's a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view. The reaction in the theater was that some people applauded while the elderly couple behind me kept grumbling throughout. (Why they even went to "Transformers 2" in the first place is beyond me.) Me, my reaction was more like "Star Trek" in that I didn't hate it but I didn't like it either. It's an OK way to kill 2 1/2 hours, especially on a hot summer day, but just try remembering any scenes from it later--except maybe Megan Fox's cleavage.

The "story" behind this excuse to make another $700 million and sell action figures is that two years after the first movie the heroic Autobots (the good robots) and humans have a shaky alliance and are trying to hunt down the Decepticons (the bad robots) while Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouf) is going off to Princeton, leaving behind his girlfriend (Megan Fox's cleavage) and sweet transforming Camaro Bumblebee. But then Sam shakes out his jacket from the first movie and finds a shard of the cube he blew up in that movie and it beams weird symbols into his head. The Decepticons want the weird symbols, so after reviving their leader Megatron (voiced by Agent Smith of the "Matrix" movies), they set out to capture Sam. The Autobots led by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen, the original and still the best Optimus EVER) have to work with the humans to stop them before it's too late. (There's also some stuff about pyramids and blowing up the sun and the Fallen mentioned in the title. Whatever.)

Let's face it, the story is just a feeble excuse to blow stuff up. Most of the movie though revolves around humans running from Decepticons, who range in size from a couple stories high to the size of a fly. There's one pretty good smackdown between Optimus Prime and three Decepticons, but otherwise it was pretty disappointing.

What I really hold against this movie though is I didn't like any of the new robots. There came a point in the third act where I thought to myself, "All these new robots are stupid." Actually they're often stupid in both meanings as in they aren't very bright--especially in the case of "The Twins" who are as racially offensive as anything put out since Jim Crow was repealed--and they look stupid with giant wheels instead of feet and so forth. Take it from someone who filled notebooks with drawings of Autobots and Decepticons back in the '80s that I could have designed much cooler robots than these.

The movie also ODs on the comic relief, piling it up so that we have comic relief from the comic relief. Most every new character who gets to do more than grunt is used as comic fodder. There's the aforementioned Twins (whom I really, REALLY hoped would die), the Grumpy Old Manbot Jetfire (a sin I will never forgive the writers, Michael Bay, Hasbro, etc. for as Jetfire was one of the most awesome Transformer toys EVER back in the day), and the miniature RC truck Wheelie who talks like a gangster. On top of that you have the overkill of the human comic relief, first with Sam's mom going menopausal when it's time for him to leave and then completely nuts when she eats some pot brownies at the college. Then there's Sam's roommate Leo the conspiracy theorist, wanna be ladies man, and target for Tasers. And near the end comes the return of Agent Simmons (John Tuturro) the wanna be Man in Black. After a while all the cheap jokes start to become grating--at least to me, though others seemed to enjoy them.

The best robot characters remain Optimus Prime and Bumblebee because at least they have something resembling emotional depth in their concern for humans, most notably Sam. As a nitpick though I was not happy with some of Optimus's characterization as the real Optimus Prime would not shoot a fallen Decepticon in the face and utter a tacky one-liner. He's not Dirty Harry or Ah-nold Schwarzenegger. Executions are for Decepticons, not the most heroic Autobot in the universe. (But then again after watching "Star Trek" I don't think this group of writers has much respect for source material.)

Anyway, on a final note I noticed quite a few kids in the theater, which is really not a good idea. I'm not usually on the prudish side but this is a PG-13 movie with a lot of Appatow-lite humor in the form of dogs humping, robots humping, giant robot balls, and robot French kisses. Then you have the bad language from both humans and robots. And throw in the racial stereotyping as well. If you want your kids to start saying "freaking" this and "freaking" that then go ahead and let them go. Otherwise you should keep them away until they're old enough.

As I said, this movie is pretty much what you'd expect and I didn't really hate it. So I'm not going to be as harsh as Roger Ebert or many other critics who gave it 0-1 stars.

My score: 2 stars

Metacritic Score: 37 (or roughly 1 1/2 stars)

That is all.

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