johnlink ranks TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009)

As much as I’ve been knocking TRANSFORMERS 2 when talking with people, I have always done so with the caveat that I have yet to actually see it. I’d been intending to, sort of the way people go to NASCAR more for the crashes than the race. So when I went in to work to pick up my schedule, my wife and I decided to stick around and see the movie everyone was talking about.

TRANSFORMERS 2 picks up where the first left off. Sam is now going to college, and he gets zapped by a piece of the cube which turns him into the carrier of some ancient Cybertron language. Then things blow up.

I watched TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009) in the theater on 7.1.09. It was my first viewing of the film.

Be aware going in that the following will contain some SPOILERS.

THIS REVIEW UTILIZES THE SYSTEMIC ARTICLE STYLE THIS WEBSITE ORIGINALLY USED. THE RANKING SYSTEM REMAINS THE SAME.

FILM

I heard a lot about this movie before I saw it. There were a list of things which seemed to bother critics. They are…

The action is so fast and sprawling that you can’t tell who is a good robot and who is bad. It is supposedly hard to follow what is going on. My take on this is that it isn’t nearly as tough as the reports say it is. I’m no expert on Transformers, but I didn’t have a hard time following it. The only exception being the final climactic scene, but I just assumed most everyone was evil. Furthermore, because that sceneis shot more from the human perspective, you feel like one of the soldiers coming into this battle having no idea what is really going on.

Lots of immaturity. Things like humping dogs, humping robots, and Transformer balls. Well, the Transformer balls didn’t bother me. It was one little funny moment. Sure it was stupid, but it got a small chuckle out of me. The robot humping Megan Fox was, similarly, just one quick moment. I might have laughed if we hadn’t already had two separate instances of a small dog humping another small dog. A lot of people in the theater laughed at all three moments, many of us rolled our eyes. I didn’t think it was worth being blasted, especially with some of the other stuff that goes on. I think Michael Bay is setting us all up to release a feature film called SMALL THINGS HUMP OTHER THINGS. This would be a two-plus hour action film featuring various animals and inanimate objects saving the world from near destruction by humping stuff. I see this as the climax to his career.

The special effects aren’t as good as the first. Maybe in a few instances, but there are also more awe-inspiring big moments. I think this idea is a wash, zeroing itself out.

The racists robots. Alright, this I did have a problem with. It’s as if Michael Bay decided that Jazz, in the first film, wasn’t stereotypical enough, so he had to make two jive talking robots who used bad language and liked to fight. But he couldn’t just be somewhat racist, so he had to give one of them a gold tooth and create a scenario wherein the robots could reveal that they are illiterate. A lot of what these two said was harmless, but there were definitely a few moments which made me cringe where the intent was to make me laugh.

So… those are the ones I kept hearing about. All in all, not too bad. But then there are these two things which I did have a bit of an issue with…

Micahel Bay sees women as objects and uses his camera to try to fuck them. I mean, really, Michael. Really? That first shot of Megan Fox is blatant enough, with her ass hanging out of her pants and she’s trying to hump a motorcycle (another instance of humping which I forgot about). But she at least has redeeming qualities as a character. As least she doesn’t run away from adversity. But my bigger problem is the college scene. He tries to explain the all-hot women in the co-ed dorm by saying an 18 year-old hacked the system to make sure everyone in his dorm is hot (and apparently 25 years old). But that does not explain why they all wear half-shirts and why one of them is walking around the hallway in a towel. It also does not explain why all the women in Astronomy class are hot and want to do the teacher. I’m pretty sure that Rainn Wilson (THE OFFICE’s Dwight) agreed to do a cameo under the sole stipulation that at least three women made it apparent in his scene that they wanted to sleep with him.

Then there is the Transformer turned hot woman who uses sex to try to seduce Sam. She is present only to be looked at.  Michael Bay only gives us two female Transformers.  That first one, imitating a human and a female voiced robot who dies a half a second after her only line. And, apparently, there are no women in the military at all (except for one who calls in a strike who we see for half a second). Michael Bay cannot envision an elite team as having a female presence.  He sees women as mere objects which should be admired, looked at, and be forgotten.

Michael Bay’s political statement. So Bay has never been known to be a thematic genius. His movies aren’t layered with meaning. This is the first time (with the exception of PEARL HARBOR which is based on fact) that he has chosen to name a real President in his movie. THE ROCK and ARMAGEDDON had stirring speeches by generic Presidents. The first TRANSFORMERS alludes to Bush, but does not name him. In that movie, the military does the right things and succeeds. In the sequel, we both see Obama in a quick flash on the television, and we hear that he is being herded to a bunker for safety. My problem with the film, is that it features a character named Galloway, who is working by ‘Direct Order of the President!!!’ and is a complete screw-up. In this film, the President is narrow minded and cannot understand the big picture. He wants the Transformers gone because they are the reason why all things are bad. The military actually has to go against his wishes, to ignore a direct order, in order to save the day.

Let me draw an analogy. This is the point at which you can yell that I’m delving too deeply into a friggin Transformers movie. Let’s say there is a country (or world). And that country needed some sovereign nation (or alien robots) with better weaponry to come in and save them. Now that country feels like it is all set. It does not need the sovereign nation to protect it anymore. But the soldiers of that sovereign nation disagree. They decide to ignore the wishes of their President to stay and fight anyway. By this comparison, it would follow that Michael Bay’s advice to soldiers in Iraq would be to ignore the orders of the President (which according to Bay, must be inept orders) and do whatever the hell they wanted. And yes, I just compared the Iraq war to Transformers. BOOM!

All in all, my film score for this movie is pretty low. It does look pretty, but the moral and thematic value of this film dips below your normal Blockbuster, which is already pretty shallow, to be one of the most morally empty mainstream films I’ve seen in awhile.  SCORE: 2

MOVIE

But is it fun? Shit yeah! The climactic battle scene is relentless, and Sam is a fun character to follow around. I was pulled out of the enjoyment of it a few times, but ultimately left feeling like I just saw an empty, fun, movie. There was a point that I sat back and considered what it means that a Transformers ‘film’ might be the most popular movie (monetarily) all year. Thanks to HARRY POTTER, we probably won’t have that stigma on our social resume! SCORE: 8

ACTING

Believe it or not, a little better than the first. John Turturro isn’t nearly as annoying. Shia is a good leading man. And I’m a fan anytime Aaron Pierce gets more screen time. Sadly, Megan (thanks to Michael Bay’s direction) pretty much just stands around and looks good. But, then, noone is in the theater for the acting. SCORE: 4

WRITING

Not good. The one liners are rough. I guess someone in the writing room decided to ensure Optimus Prime makes a witty comment every time he kills someone. Plus, the only character thru-line in the entire thing is the idea that Megan Fox and Shia haven’t said “I love you” yet, and we get six ‘Is this when they say it?’ moments. Pretty silly stuff which most people wouldn’t keep in past the first cut. The idea that saying “I love you” could save someone from blunt force trauma is actually trumped by a sillier idea that robot heaven is what really saves you.

The plot tries to be epic, but never really makes it there, mostly because everything seems to easy. It’s sort of a connect-the-dots plot. We know something has to happen and…. wait for it… wait for it… yep there! It happens.  SCORE: 2.

FINAL TALLY

FILM: 2; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 4; WRITING: 2

2+8+4+2+0= 16

FINAL SCORE = 4… but, and I’ve said this before, a movie where the entertainment score is the most important. Ultimately, this film is both as good as, and worse than the first. How’s that for definitive!

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~ by johnlink00 on July 2, 2009.

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