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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (2009)

As I said a couple of years ago, when I reviewed the original Transformers movie, I am not of the "Transformer generation" so I could enjoy Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen for what it was without feeling as though my childhood was being violated in some way.

Sadly, what this sequel was was a bombastic, vacuous, soulless triumph of sound and fury with a simplistic story messed up with pointless distractions and a cliché-padded script that feels as though it was made up as it went along.

Where the original just fell apart in its final battle, Revenge of The Fallen falls apart pretty much from the opening scene and never gets its act back together.

It's round two in the global battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons, but we only find out about 90 minutes in that everyone is searching for the lost Tomb Of The Primes to find some energy matrix that will reactivate a giant, ancient machine hidden inside a pyramid which will eat our sun and provide a massive supply of life-giving energy to the evil robots.

The backstory - that the robots first came to Earth in 17,000 BC on their energy-hunting/sun-eating quest, but realising the planet was populated were going to move on until one, The Fallen, decided he was going to kill all the humans instead - was passingly interesting, even if I couldn't see how all this tied in with the pyramids as they weren't built until about 2,500BC.

And why is that whenever something of great importance is hidden in the Middle East/Egypt it always turns out to be in Petra?

I was also wondering why visiting alien lifeforms always choose some dumb kid as their liaison with the human race; a kid who's going to be occupied with thoughts of the opposite sex, school and hiding his new-found friend from his parents. Why don't these supposedly intelligent aliens seek out someone with the intellect, imagination and focus of a Carl Sagan or a Stephen Hawking?

The movie opens with the hero of the first film, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), about to head off to college but he's only there about a day before all kinds of plot-related destruction and robot-themed freakiness kicks off.

The oddest of these incidents is the Decepticon disguised as a college student... which, again, got me thinking: if they have that ability, surely that's a far better way to infiltrate humanity (cf. cylons on Battlestar Galactica) than thundering around as giant killer robots that are very easy targets for tanks, planes, warships to aim at.

Clearly I was thinking way too hard while watching this movie - something I suspect those who made it didn't - which is why I had to watch it episodically throughout the day, unable to digest it all in one or even two sittings.

It's two-and-a-half-freakin' hours long, people!

I don't know how anybody endured it at the cinema, especially as it takes almost half an hour for the story to even start to unfold - with much of that first section totally redundant, due to some ill-considered moments of forced humour (I cite Sam's mum and the hash cake and their family's gay dogs as the most cringeworthy).

All the way through Revenge Of The Fallen there's also a lot of running around by Sam, his girlfriend (the lovely Megan Fox) and some random hangers-on that passes for 'human interest'.

Sam's college room mate - for no good reason - gets dragged along throughout the story, adding nothing until he is eventually forgotten about 20 minutes or so from the end.

Even Megan Fox's character, Mikaela, so central to the first movie, contributes almost nothing to the plot here - but, unlike the other superfluous characters, I'd have been less happy if she'd been cut from the movie.

Revenge Of The Fallen has some spectacular, large-scale special effects and wonderful, eardrum-vibrating sound effects, just very little else to hold it together.

The film certainly has its moments, but these are nearly all visual rather than emotional and ultimately it's a random assortment of ideas, some good, some almost great, cobbled together in the hope that something half-decent will come out of it.

4 comments:

  1. I watched this at the cinema and really enjoyed it. The two and a half hours seemed to zip by. Yes, it helps if you leave your brain at home and just bathe yourself in the action. But going in, I knew not to expect anything in the least bit cerebral.

    And, yes, it probably has the best eardrum-vibrating sound effects of the year - if not of all time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Perhaps then I might have enjoyed it more at the cinema - knowing I had to absorb it all in one sitting. But I was so pleasantly surprised by the first film that I guess my expectations were raised a bit too much for this one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What bothered me about these films was how unremittingly stupid they were, even in comparison to the 1986 version, which after all, was for children!

    One of the main issues for me was the incredibly poor writing, not only the embarrassing attempts at humour (Shie Lebouf is nowhere near the comedian Hollywood thinks he is), but the absurd illogical plotting, none of which made any sense whatsoever.

    The other huge problem was the bizarre focus on the human characters, especially in the first film. It's called Transformers for a reason, Bay...

    ReplyDelete
  4. If you ever wondered what a movie would look like geared toward the underdeveloped brain of a gestating zygote...then Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the insipid illustration you've been waiting for.

    ReplyDelete

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