Welcome to the He Said/He Said of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. As always, you should see the film before reading this article.
Complete coverage of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Autobots and Decepticons once again duke it out with Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox constantly in danger. Is it worth your Independence Day dollar? Let's get things started with Him No. 1 (Jeff Bayer), followed by Him No. 2 (Nick Allen).
He Said (Bayer)
Two and a half hours? Two and a half hours. Sigh. Out of all the bad decisions I think that is the worst. Forget about the Fallen being a knock-off of Emperor, which would make Megatron, Darth Vader, that's nothing compared to being completely exhausted by the length. What else didn't work? The humor, the sex appeal and the heartfelt emotion. I've even decided this ... I'm sick of people saying, "What do you expect? It's Michael Bay." That's not a good enough accuse. There's a number of very watchable Bay flicks, but I can't imagine sitting down for this one again. The only thing they get right is some beautiful, technically accurate, visual effects. That's it. But even then, I have issues. Issues we can explore, but let's see where you're at with the film before I just complain for a couple of paragraphs.
He Said (Allen)
I don't think Michael Bay has cried much in his life. Sure, he probably blubbered like a baby when Bruce Willis sacrificed his life so that future son-in-law Ben Affleck could live happily ever after with daughter Liv Tyler in Armageddon, like we all did. I imagine the other rare occasion where Bay got emotional was when he read the fan backlash for Transformers, back in 2007. As we asked ourselves, I'm sure he internally pondered: "How could THE Michael Bay have made a movie that bored people by holding off on the real robot-combat goodness until the third act?" I mean, let's face it. That movie is a bit of a chore to sit through.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a super suped-up mega self-conscious response to these accusations and subsequent yawns. Michael Bay has turned everything up to 111, (after exploding some tears out of his face) as he returns with this opus to obliteration, with all of the aforementioned "humor and sex appeal" set on overdrive, shooting as many gags at its audience as a soldier would bullets aimed at a Decepticon. In fact, the comedy and action scenes are very alike. They're huge, over the top, and hit-and-miss with their awesomeness. Much of the movie is spent trying to be as big as possible, which is not entirely a bad thing. After all, I found the first two acts pretty "summer blockbuster" enjoyable. A lot of stuff gets blown up, Sam Witwicky gets to be the ragdoll to both awkward situations and Decepticons, and the backstory is actually a bit digestible. But with all of this gorging happening, can too much of a good thing hurt?
Yes, because in the third act this all becomes very tiresome and the 150 minute running time becomes even more obvious. Soon the thousands of explosions and the unnameable Transformers fighting and the destruction of an entire village just seems like the cry of a man eager to retain his "Boom Boom Movie" Throne. Good effects though.
Wow, I know there is some teenager reading this right now thinking, "What?! How could you ruin Armageddon for me?!" Get over it kid.
I think there is much less sex appeal in this one than the first. Sure, Fox hangs on a motorcycle, but that was nothing compared to her car repairs in the first. Plus, that blonde scientist (Rachael Taylor) in the first is much better than the TERMINATOR knock-off that is Alice.
The back story is digestible? Really? At what point do you understand what they are trying to do? The fifth or sixth time they are explaining it? I mean, the true plot makes itself known after 1.5 hours. And please tell me when you laughed, I must know. It wasn't anything the ghetto (gold tooth) Autobot did, right?
One thing is for sure, Bay loves the military, which makes it all that more funny that the U.S. fails 99 percent of the time, desparately needs the Autobots in the fight against the Decepticons, yet in the film, they say Obama has a new plan that includes getting rid of the Autobots. And yes, in the film Obama is president, they show him on CNN and refer to him once. It's just as bad as bringing up 9/11.
And you need to explain yourself on "too much of a good thing." I thought the detail in which the alien robots were created was great, but there were still times that Bay chose a close-up so I couldn't tell who was fighting who. The slow motion is necessary during the fights so you can see, but my hunch is Bay used them because he thought we needed a chance to breath.
What actor was the best for you in this film (I'll save my answer after you respond)? And I am so excited Bay isn't behind G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra that it hurts.
Maybe this Transformers had less sex appeal, but it did talk about sex more than the first, and did have a few moments that were either trying to be sexy visually or with some part of dialogue. An example that comes to mind is the particular car part that Shia liked to hear whispered by Megan Fox. That was kind of odd. But true, there's no humping on Bumblebee to close this one off, so I suppose the sex appeal is a bit lacking in this one. But maybe Bay just figured that watching Fox run from explosions in slow motion counted as "sex appeal," so he put all his chips on that.
Yes, the back story was digestable, meaning, I accepted the glimpses into Decepticon world, even when some of those scenes reminded me of hokey conversations between angry kings and their hunchbacked servants. It's funny you say "true plot" of the film, because its hard to pick one. Or at least, it's hard to describe it without sounding like you just watched the first film.
As for the gold tooth Autobot, I most certainly did not laugh. I was pretty angry, actually, that Michael Bay got away with creating another awfully stereotyped Transformer that just seemed to continue his authorship of portraying non-caucasians with the greyest of colors. This reminded me of the cringe worthy moment in The Island, where after Ewan McGregor falls from some height and lands in a net, is told by an African American bus driver, "Wow! Jesus must love you!" Of course, one can't forget the Transformer that was painted black in the 2007 film named Jazz whose first line was "What's up, bitches?" Awful. But people were laughing in the theatre. I was certainly not one of them.
"Too much of a good thing" simply meant watching robots blow stuff up whilst fighting other robots. I am seriously worried that I grew tired of the big mega destruction opus that was meant to be a moment of action bliss. But it all became redundant, the Transformers became nameless, and the scene never ended. Sure, Michael Bay got to throw in his beloved footage of the armed forces. But the diving from explosions and yelling just gets a bit old after so many times. And with your "close-up, can't tell who's fighting who" argument, I disagree that this was much of a problem here. It was a bigger issue in the first Transformers film. It wasn't bothersome the second time around. After all, that fight in the woods was pretty awesome, and easy to follow.
As for good acting, LeBouf is the best here. Not much has changed from his work as Witwicky in 2007, and that's not a bad thing. If anything, it's better he's not wearing that token Strokes shirt that he did in the first movie. For the record, Fox is the worst here, delivering lines with unfathomable laziness and trying to let her green eyes do the talking.
Now I've got a question for you. How on earth could you have any hope for G.I Joe? Seriously, I want to know. Right now I think it'll be a great pity watch, but the trailer has me thinking pretty gosh darn low expectations.
LaBeouf is the wrong answer. He is reduced to blinking. That's not acting. And the boyish charm he had going strong in the first has worn off for the second. Was the whole scene with him barely fighting off Alice just terrible? I mean, when Fox walks into the room, he's actually sitting up ever so slightly in bed, kissing the "girl." And what part of him not telling Fox the "L" word is believable? Even for the characters, he knows he's trading up big time. I'm almost tempting to rewatch the first, cause it's shocking he didn't say it to Fox over and over again, like every other teenage boy would have.
I can't believe I am going to say this, but just for a second, I was excited to see John Turturro. He breathed life into the film, which is more than I can say for any other actor. I don't blame the actors here, they aren't given a chance. But at least Turturro said something, did something. Sure, he eventually decides he can run up a pyramid faster than Devastator, and can drive better than an actual Autobot, and that reminds me how annoying he was in the first Transformers, but yeah, Turturro. Sigh. That's my answer.
"Too much of a good thing," yep, now I understand and agree. I didn't care how technically impressive the film was any more. They didn't hook me with humor or plot, so I was done. Really, there were just three action sequences, with the third being very long. The beginning, the woods with Optimus Prime, and the end. The woods being my favorite by far. I saw it on an IMAX screen and Optimus was live size (35 feet) for that ... it was good.
Hope for G.I Joe ... Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he hasn't made a awful decision yet in his movie choices. Plus, I haven't watched the preview. So my expectations at this point are ... good fight sequences, cool weapons, and hopefully no red and blue lazers flying past everyone but hitting no one. That pretty much would put it in the 6/10 or 7/10 category, and I'd be happy with that.
If Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is followed by another (and all signs point to it being big at the box office), I don't care if Bay is still directing. He has to leave the chair for me to be excited about another.
And we never talked about the screenwriters ... Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Orci and Kurtzman co-wrote Star Trek. But I heard a rumor (and only a rumor) that this film suffered from the writers strike and the writers barely did anything. So we can just leave it at that.
So far for the summer, I've been telling people to only see three movies in the theater ... 1. Star Trek 2. Up 3. The Hangover
If you had to pick three, what are they?
I've been recommending Up to every living organism on this planet, and Moon to all of my sci-fi friends. Ashamedly, I still have not seen The Hangover. But now that I've finally witnessed the grandiose mediocrity of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I am going to get on that ASAP.
I don't understand why you are a bit skittish with your best actor answer. John Turturro has proven to be one of New York's finest, even when he's in films that are certainly not that (The Taking of Pelham 123 my most immediate example). Therefore I agree he was a bit of a refreshment, even in the position of a small quirky supporting part. He had one or two funny lines. I was upset that he continued the presence of Sam's incredibly obnoxious roommate, (played by Ramon Rodriguez). I understand you're trying to be a pesty character, Leo, but do you have to be so insufferable? It didn't add to an already increasingly wearing experience.
Look, everyone. Technology has reached a point that yes, home theatre experiences are a better option even with something as bombastic as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Sure this might look good on IMAX, but watching this at home on Blu-Ray in six months is actually a better idea. One of the best quirks of this decision is the pause button, which would allow the kind of bathroom break that a 150 minute sit down in a big theatre wouldn't.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is more of everything, but somehow, it isn't a huge improvement. That's a type of movie magic in itself, how a movie that so desperately tries to fulfill its action criteria can be kind of ... lame. Maybe its the proposed bad acting or annoying characters (and Autobots). Or maybe it's the fact that some of the scenes look like they were made in homage to the brilliant spoofing of his work by Team America: World Police. Somehow, Michael Bay managed to make probably his most explosively dumb film yet a bit weak. Certainly, it would have helped if he used Stan Bush's "The Touch" somewhere in the film.
(Note: In Michael Bay terms, this is probably the Bayest movie yet. I can't think of a more truer way to explain this film than the typical BOOM CRASH BOOM SMASH BANG BANG RUN !!! So in that way, it does top all of his action masterpieces from earlier days.
As for your hopes of Bay leaving the director chair - he certainly won't. It might be another three years or so before Transformers: Revenge of the Bayster, but it will certainly be guided with the classic "Touch" of summer blockbuster King Midas, Michael Bay. He's got the touch. And he's got the poweeeerrrr, yeah!