(Crossposted from NikoScream)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the latest in Michael Bay’s foray into the multi-million-dollar toy commercials that are the Transformers movies. Returning are stars Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky and Megan Fox as Mikaela Banes, as well as Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving reprising their voices as Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is essentially better than 2007’s Transformers. Bay manages to turn everything up a notch, which unfortunately includes some of the weaknesses of the first movie.
This movie takes place two years after the first one. The Autobots have entered into a deal of asylum with the U.S. government and work with it to take down rogue Decepticons. However, the higher ups in the government are a bit weary and suspect of the Autobots, believing them to be the reason for Decepticon attacks. Meanwhile, Sam is off to college and hopefully a normal life. That doesn’t work too well with the information of the All Spark downloaded into his head.
Cue Decepticons hunting him down and Autobots fighting to protect him. Throw in scantily-clad hot girls, slow motion and explosions, stir with a Bad Boys 2 poster and you have a Michael Bay film whether you like it or not.
Probably the best part of the film is the greater concentration on the Transformers. Decepticons other than Megatron actually get real dialog this time. Starscream, who got screwed in the last movie with no real lines or character, is as cowardly yet power hungry as usual, not to mention he actually talks. Soundwave (with his original voice from Frank Welker) forgoes his traditional boom box form for a satellite, yet it actually works for him. While he doesn’t fight himself, Soundwave does launch out Rampage, who does keep true to his jaguar-like form.
As for the Autobots, they’re here in full force as well. Optimus Prime is as awesome as he should be. Probably the top three fights in the movie are his, and he’s good in them. It’s no wonder why he’s the leader of the Autobots when he takes on Megatron, Starscream and other Decepticons all on his own. Not to mention Peter Cullen continues to deliver that iconic and awe-inspiring voice of his.
While Ironhide and Ratchet don’t get as much screen time as in the first movie, we do get introduced to plenty of new Autobots who followed Optimus’ message at the end of movie one. Sideswipe is a new Chevy Corvette Stingray concept, which works for a sleek design in both vehicle and robot modes. Then there’s the Arcee team, a trio of female motorcycle Autobots lead by Arcee. There’s also Jetfire, portrayed as an elderly Transformer with an SR-71 Blackbird jet mode. To ease some worries about Jetfire, while he has a cane that actually is integrated into his transformation, he does use it as a weapon. That’s probably what its real purpose is, while Jetfire uses it as a cane due to malfunctioning legs.
The film also does well to include more aspects of Transformers mythos. Energon exists, as does a certain Matrix of Leadership, oddly lacking finger grips though. We also have the existence of other Primes in the past, showing that the Prime name is a name of leadership.
The plot is fairly cohesive, more so than the first one. There are no real out-of-place subplots, and everything ties into the main story. Still, a good deal of the scenes could have been shorter, as the movie really does not need its two and a half hours of running time.
Going in that direction though, one of the things that should have been cut down is the comic relief. The comedy gets old quick in my opinion. While Sam’s parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) comedic character development and Agent Simmons (John Turturro) wardrobe malfunction is bearable, there are a few more relief characters than necessary.
First we have Leo (Ramón Rodríguez), Sam’s know-it-all college roommate with a penchant for whining and complaining and who just happens to run a conspiracy website featuring robotic aliens (What a coincidence on Sam’s part). He doesn’t feel like he adds anything to the film. However, he one thing well, and that’s making Sam far more likeable in contrast.
Then we have Skids and Mudflap, two annoying Autobot twins. As established in the first movie that the Autobots learn about Earth from the internet, these two must have went to the most ghetto website imaginable. They talk with street-thug accents. Neither is particularly bright. Skids even has gold-and-silver-plated buckteeth. Anyone who found Jazz offensive in the first movie will have a field day with these two. I just found them annoying and hardly redeeming. Heck, even Wheelie is more likeable.
Similar to the first film and despite more focus on Transformers, this film still has too much concentration on the humans. The similarities to a teen romance drama are still strong, especially at Sam’s college with rowdy frat boys and compromising situations with girls who are not Sam’s girlfriend Mikaela. While I wish there is less, it’s still fairly concentrated in just the first half and is left alone as the plot progresses.
The final battle does concentrate more on the human soldiers fighting. However, given that the Transformers get the focus in the several fights spread throughout the movie, and that the soldiers are supposed to be working with the Autobots as equals, it does only seem fair and forgivable.
One final problem the film has is keeping track of Transformers. There are a lot of Decepticons, most of which aren’t distinguishable. It’s sad having to rely on the toys to tell us who’s who. Also, we have the Constructicons, and they do form Devastator, yet there are Constructicons fighting while Devastator fights elsewhere.
Speaking of Devastator, yes he has testicles, and yes that scene is ridiculous and unnecessary.
Overall, it’s a decent movie. The best way to recommend this is if you liked the 2007 Transformers, you’ll love this. It is a better movie. However, if you hated the 2007 film, be it from too much people, too stupid comedy, distaste of designs or just too much Bay-ness, you won’t hate this as much but you still probably won’t like it. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and so did some of my more old-school Transformer fan friends, so you might too.