Sunday, 21 June 2009

Of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

It has arrived. The latest Michael Bay explosion fest. Luckily he does not disappoint with the movie clocking in at over 2 hours with plenty of explosions to keep the 12 year olds happy. Also he threw in some slow motion just for good measure.

I can't review this properly because normal reviewing tactics just don't hold true. I can't criticize the story due to the fact that it is almost non-existent, but I do know these guys can give us a good story since they wrote both Fringe and Star Trek this year so they can give us a good yarn. However Transformers 2 doesn't need a story. Instead everything that happens is just another excuse for Michael Bay to put more explosions in the movie.

So this movie has to be judged by different factors. Did I enjoy this film? Yes I did. Not to the same extent as I enjoyed Star Trek or last years Iron Man but Michael Bay can direct a certified popcorn flick better than anyone. Apart from possibly Roland Emmerich (new 2012 is essentially Day After Tomorrow but this time everything dies). I enjoyed Star Trek and Iron Man more mostly because the actors were good and they actually had comprehensible storylines. But they didn't have nearly as many explosions as this movie.

What is the story I hear you ask? Well there's an evil alien living on Saturn who built the pyramids and hid a massive laser inside them which could destroy the Sun to unleash energon. Luckily he was stopped by the Prime family and banished from Earth. However Decepticon forces have decided to help him in his quest to destroy the known universe. In the mean time Sam Witwicky is experiencing girlfriend issues and seeing ancient letters in front of his eyes and the Autobots are going around pwning all the left over Decepticons on Earth (and I do mean pwning). Eventually all these storylines come together in one massive explosion fest which takes up about 30 minutes of the films 150 minute run time (that's Dark Knight length people!!). That's the plot and whilst it seems fairly fleshed out let me just point out that most of that comes from a five minute monologue two hours into the movie and the rest is just guess work from a movie which throws random characters at you and then takes them away at Michael Bay's retarded whim (BTW Major Spoilers to follow later on).

Michael Bay NEEDS to learn how to edit properly. My biggest point of contention with the movie is simply this. Please, please make it comprehensible. The Fallen literally appears about 20 minutes into the movie. On Saturn. For no good reason. Most of the characters speak little to no words, apart from the ones you expect to (i.e Optimus, Bumblebee, Starscream, The Fallen, Jetfire and (SPOILERS!)Megatron). Everyone else is left to just look cool and cause more of Michael Bay's ever so pretty explosions. Then there is the fact that like the first movie Michael Bay seems to have some kind of allergic reaction to giving characters closure. One character named Wheelie is prominently featured for the first two hours then literally disappears...mid-scene. It's almost as if the animators just forgot to render him. Even with the movie reaching for time lengths that most normal movies don't dare touch, Michael Bay seems to put in hugely unnecessary scenes (dog humping, a scene involving hash brownies and even an enjoyable cameo by Rainn Wilson from The Office) whilst missing out important details to the plot. It's like the first movie where Barricade just disappears mid-fight scene (and doesn't appear in this movie either despite being supposed to and actually having a perfectly logical reason to get rid of him in the opening set piece of the fucking movie!!!!). Michael Bay spends too long on getting the movie to appeal to as many adolescent boys as possibly whilst ignoring all the conventions of a movie editor.

I'm not saying he can't direct a movie. He's by far the best action director in the world (well action involving explosions that is) but when characters just go missing without a mention from the characters and the story makes no sense, something seems a bit odd that he can throw a half hour scene of essentially just explosions and glorified shots of planes, tanks, boats and giant robots but not actual bring conclusion to a character who up until that point was fairly prominent. It's a shame that the movie just kind of dies halfway through and almost becomes an entirely different movie as the final climax is set up.

Then there are the jokes. Dear lord the jokes. Whilst I'm sure I'm going to be criticized for this but seriously do the jokes have to be as overtly sexual that only a twelve year old would laugh. Dogs humping, robots humping, black stereotypes (yup again and this time voiced by Spongebob Squarepants!!) and robot testicles. There's no subtlety or wit to the movie. Whilst this isn't necessarily a problem just don't go into this movie thinking it's going to be as hilarious as The Hangover because this movie is aimed at a demographic where balls have not yet dropped and just the mention of sex is enough to conjure belly laughs.

But none of this a real issue. I went into this movie expecting all these problems. It is a bit too long and suffers from a moment midway through which due to the emotionality of it, they just can't quite top afterwords. Also there's the jarring change of location halfway through which is a problem, like in Michael Bay's only other sequel, Bad Boys 2. But again none of this is an issue. The movie is a hell of a lot of fun. The Transformers look great (there is scene towards the end which will make Transformers fans exceedingly happy) and as always Michael Bay shows he knows how to frame a scene, as long as there are explosions in it. In fact the movie only really suffers at the points with no explosions as it is at those points that they try to explain the non-plot. There's a lull in the movie after an hour and a half which carries on for about 30 minutes before kicking off into the final set piece. It's incredibly boring and kills the momentum that the movie has made up until that point. Just the fact that we spend so much time an hour into the movie getting the plot thrown at us and the fact that the emotional climax of the film occurs halfway through leaves us a bit hollow afterwards especially how casually they deal with the climax. I'm speaking about the emotional climax which was...

Do not read beyond this point if you do not want to spoiled for this movie

...Optimus Prime's death. This part echoes the first Transformers movie so it's not that big of a spoiler but still, it's fairly shocking when it happens. Whilst it's obvious he won't be dead for long because he's fucking Optimus Prime and even Megatron doesn't die in this movie (he does lose an arm though) the movie just doesn't take the time to deal with his death properly. He's one of the few characters who gets any "development" and deserves at least some kind of memorial. Instead the movie takes a metaphorical dump on him by literally dumping him in an army base from about 30 feet off the ground and calls him scrap metal. Hardly a fitting treatment for undeniably the coolest character in the series (apart from Bumblebee). Whilst his death is a major plot thread for the rest of the movie it still feels like the audience isn't given time to mourn and instead we move onto the third explosion filled act which takes far too long to get going.

Overall Transformers 2 is just what you expect from a summer blockbuster. Michael Bay can direct an explosion like no other man and there are some exceedingly cool moments in the film from the Constructicons, blokes being chopped in half and of course the explosions. As long as you don't go in expecting it to have a cohesive story and the silliness that comes with trying to attract 12 year olds (which honestly they almost shouldn't be able to due to the language and violence within, even if it is mostly robots, someone having their spinal column ripped out is hardly 12A material) you'll have an amazing time.

Transformers 2 is everything you expect it to be, a bigger and badder version of Transformers, even if it does get a little bloated towards the end. There are enough references to keep older fans happy and explosions and sex for the teenagers. Transformers 2 is just fun and whilst recently films like Star Trek have made far better popcorn fodder, Transformers has them all beat on explosions. And really, that's all that matters.


PS If you're not going in for the fun factor though be prepared as the movie is overly long (40 minutes could have easily been cut) and is just too confusing in terms of plot, so may need to be knocked down to a 4 or 5

Explosion count movie: lost count
Explosion count review: 15

Check back for reviews of True Blood Season 1 and Twilight (vampire head to head!!!)

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