There are a few things I need to say before plunging into this review.
1. I really enjoyed Michael Bay’s first outing with the Robots in Disguise. I hear what those who are critical of the movie say, but as an overall experience I really enjoy it and think it’s a great movie.
2. I did read a few non-spoilery reviews of the movie before going to see it. I was disheartened because a lot of what I read tended to be very negative. I had no idea about a plot, and I had not really read any spoilers for the movie going into it. My expectations were pretty even in spite of the negative reviews I had read.
3. I loved the G1 Transformers series from the eighties. Transformers weren’t action figures…they were Transformers, the show was, to my child eyes, the best thing on television, and it still holds a very special place in my heart. Subsequent series, with the exception of Beast Wars, really tended to fall flat to me. They just didn’t feel like The Transformers.
4. There may be spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want anything ruined, don’t read.
This movie is really two different reactions for me. I’ve seen it twice now, and had I written this review after only one viewing, I would have written, “HOLY MONKEY SPIT!!! I freakin’ love this movie!”
Having seen it twice now, I say, “Wow. What a good movie.”
Upon the first viewing I found myself thrilling to Optimus being airdropped in to China to take out a huge Decepticon. I felt tears well up as I had to watch Optimus do something I never thought I’d have to see a second time in my life.
I cheered with the mention of the Matrix of Leadership. I laughed at jokes that weren’t too funny. I felt the awe of the 7 year old in me as Jetfire showed up. The whole experience the first time around was exactly what I wanted out of a Summer movie. I left with my jaw on the floor and completely ticked that people had been spewing venom on this movie.
The second time I saw it was a more low key affair with a couple of people who aren’t quite the fans that I and my friend Josh from New Day Photography, are. It was in this viewing that I realized how slow the pacing of the movie is, how unnecessary some of the humor is, and how pointless at least one of the characters are.
Let’s deal with the negative first. Sam’s roommate? Pointless. Well, after leading Sam and company to John Turturro’s Agent Simmons he’s pointless. For one things, Turturro is the far superior actor and when he’s on screen, it’s like no one else is there. So there is no need for a character who doesn’t have half the knowledge of Agent Simmons portrayed by a gentleman who’s a fine actor…just not on Turturro’s level. In fact, Leo would have best been served in the role of taking Sam where he needed to get and then either stayed behind in some sort of support role or even turned Sam over to the authorities to try to collect some sort of reward…I think it would have made his character more useful and he would have had more of a reason to stick around once Agent Simmons came on the scene.
The humor is a double edged sword for me. You had to expect Sam’s parents to be funny. However, at points they were a bit too over the top. To me, though, it’s all paid off once they are taken hostage and used to try and stop Sam in the final battle. The scene between Sam and his father is really emotional. All jokes are over, this is life and death, and instead of letting their son go for college, this is a mother and father letting their son go to save the world and potentially not make it back. It’s a moving scene and it stands complimentary to and as a counter to what we had seen from the Witwicky parents earlier.
The Autobot twins Mudflap and Skids were…too much. Too much vulgarity. Too much humor. Too much screen time. When we are shown a totally awesome Autobot in the form of Sideswipe in the opening sequence, when we have someone like Ironhide or the Arcee triplets in the movie, to spend so much time on a vulgar Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum duo is a little disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, they had their moments and at times even made me laugh, and I appreciated that the two could fight, but kids are gonna be playing with these toys and quoting their lines from the movie, and there were so many cooler Autobots that could have been used.
Then there’s Wheelie…I didn’t mind Wheelie at all. Except for the leg humping. That was unnecessary. He was grovelling enough to be funny, and he was a cool little character.
Ultimately, there are a few little plot points that rubbed me the wrong way, but even with the problems I just mentioned, it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience, the movie, or the franchise for me.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had so much eye popping goodness about it, it did everything we wanted the first one to do, and it ramped the stakes up so high that even the slow scenes seemed intense.
The stakes for our characters were bigger than an unknown threat in the person of a frozen Megatron getting his hands on a source of power we don’t quite understand. This time around the Earth was at stake. The Decepticons, under the leader of an ancient Transformer known as The Fallen, are after the Energon they can harvest upon destroying our sun, and thus our planet. Sam has been thrown headfirst into this war, and has to step up in a way that goes far beyond anything he was called upon to do in the first movie.
The Decepticons seem to be coming in huge waves and all hope seems lost for a large portion of the movie. Then, the second things seem to turn around, the bad guys appear to win. Then…well, it’s just huge.
The action sequences in this movie (and there were a lot) were amazing. From the aforementioned Prime airdrop to appliances going all decepticonish in the Witwicky household, to a Decepticon psycho chick, on through to the end battle, The camera was, for the most part, pulled back to allow us to more easily follow the fights than the first movie.
Ultimately, we got what we asked for. More interactions between the Transformers, more focus on the giant robots fighting, and more robots.
As far as plot goes, this was a classic Transformers story. There was the search for an item on which everything hinged. Megatron will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal. Soundwave is sending his little minions and gathering the information needed to effectively strike against the Autobots. The Autobots have no clue what’s going on til the end, and then lay their lives on the line to save humanity.
There was a lot weak about this movie, but to me and the seven year old Steve that came out to play in the movie theater there was too much good to complain.
I honestly had no expectations for this movie. I knew that what I had seen looked amazing, but I knew little to nothing about the plot. So when I walked out the first time, I was super pleased. The second time, I was able to look at things in a less seven year old like manner. Combining the two experiences, I give the movie a strong 3.5 out of 5. I will probably see it again. I do like it enough to watch it as much as I have the chance to. I will definitely buy it when it comes out on DVD/Blu Ray, and I highly recommend it. In my opinion, it’s the best of the Summer so far. Just on a fun level.