Review from the Vault - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Over the past couple of weeks I have been asked on numerous occasions whether or not I plan on seeing Transformers: Dark of the Moon in theaters. Any given day my answer seems to drift between 'after Revenge of the Fallen? Are you serious!?' and 'there's a good chance I'll get talked into it.'

I had not yet started this blog two years ago when Revenge of the Fallen came out, but I did post the below review on the Flixster app on facebook. I figured that since I have been getting so many questions about Dark of the Moon that I should re-post this review so those who have not heard my rant about Fallen can see why I'm so leery about Dark of the Moon despite the trailer making it look quite intriguing. The review below is a straight copy/paste. I have not edited any of the content from the original post (which wasn't my best edited work by a long shot).

I do have every intention of seeing Dark of the Moon eventually. Whether or not that happens in the theater is yet to be seen. So here it is, my review for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in Pro/Con format. And as you will see, I was grasping at straws for some of the Pros.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), PG-13, 150 minutes - Ok. Wow. I'm not even sure where to start. I suppose I'd be best served to begin like this: I can understand why this film has already made a s#!t ton of money and why a lot of people like it - it's a typical Michael Bay 'blow everything sky high' summer time action flick. Unfortunately that doesn't even come close to saving this sequel.

I saw this last Wednesday night and have been out of town since, so I've had a little time to think about how I feel about the movie. I'm sad to say that after 5 days my outlook hasn't changed at all. I grew up with Transformers - the original G1 cartoon, the toys, the lunchboxes, everything. I even thoroughly enjoyed the first live action adaptation. Part of me was scared that this would turn into the typical Michael Bay summertime action flick cannon fodder (which it did) and part of me really really hoped it would do the franchise justice - or at least be close to the first film.

The only thing that sitting around for 5 days before writing this allowed me to do was come to this conclusion: there are 3 categories of people who will see this movie. Their like/dislike will result SOLELY on their falling into one of these three categories:

Group 1: people who have absolutely no or very little prior knowledge of Transformers. (these people are more than likely going to love this movie)

Group 2: people who have a passing to possibly even above average appreciation of Transformers and its mythos. (these people will also either love this movie or enjoy it for the most part)

Group 3: people who would fall into the 'fanboy' category of the Transformers mythos and have an above average knowledge of characters and their personalities/actions. (these people will tear this movie a new one).

You can probably already guess which category I fall under.

I started to make a list of pros and cons during some down time this afternoon at work and this is what I came up with:

- Frank Welker was the voice of Soundwave (as he was in the original G1 cartoon.

- Peter Cullen was once again the voice of Optimus Prime (as he was in the original G1 cartoon).

- The outline of the super basic story. I actually like the whole 'one of the ancient Primes broke off from the rest and tried to take over everything himself' idea (too bad they screwed it up).

- They introduced more robots than in the first movie (also a con as described below).

- The Rainn Wilson cameo. Once again, Wilson plays his stereotypical character but manages to be entertaining.

And here's the list that just hurts so very much being a G1 fanboy...

- 5 minutes into the movie, Optimus Prime blows a whole through a captured Decepticon's head. JUST BECAUSE. This is so ridiculously out of character I was instantly worried about the movie the moment it happened.

- The Autobot 'Twins' - these two characters are (as Billy said it) the two most racially insensitive and stereotypical characters this side of Jar Jar Binks (and we all know how he single handedly killed Star Wars). Guess what Michael Bay? You already had your (and G1 Transformers') token African American character in the first movie (Jazz) and you killed him off like he was the 'token black guy' in some B rate horror flick.

- Megatron would NEVER kiss 'The Fallen's' @$$ the way he did. Even if Megatron did have to report to a higher authority, his M.O. has always been to be the dominant Decepticon and to take over the universe. No way he grovels the way he did throughout 'Revenge of the Fallen'.

- They introduced more robots than in the first movie - which is great except that for the exception of the twins, none of them get any face time and come major battle sequences, you can't tell who is who. What's the point of introducing Sideswipe and Arcee when they're on screen for 4 minutes? Which leads me to...

- How do you NOT make Sideswipe red? They made him silver which basically makes him a stand in for Jazz in this movie. Also, Arcee was ONE motorcycle, not three. And before you tell me that she was part of some elite unit (which she was along with Elita One and a couple of others), they were all separate entities. They even butchered Jetfire (one of the coolest G1 characters ever). How do you make him a crotchety old Spock-like robot? The only thing about Jetfire they got right was that he was a researcher and flip flopped between the Autobot and Decepticon factions.

- Speaking of Jetfire, last time I checked (which coincidentally was this past weekend when I was there) the Smithsonian doesn't open up to a desert airfield filled with aircraft of various types.

- The blonde chic named Alice. Even if you try to say that she's a nod back to the G2 Pretenders, she really doesn't work. She had an entire scene with Sam inside of Bumblebee. How does Bumblebee not tell she's a Decepticon or vice versa? Also, in robot form, she's a total ripoff of Danger from Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run.

- Too much of the cast is used (too often) for comedic relief. I really enjoyed Sam's parents and John Turturro in the first movie. They are horribly over played in 'Revenge of the Fallen'. Not only that, but they throw in Sam's college roommate and the Autobot twins into the mix as if there wasn't enough comic relief to begin with. Drop all of these under the 'going to the well one too many times' category.

- Devastator is killed way too easily. I understand that they blast him with a rail gun, but please. Devastator is comprised of 6 smaller robots. Even a direct hit on Devastator would have taken out one maybe two of his smaller pieces leaving the other four to battle on. This is because they never came together as one mind, they were always in constant battle over who the dominant personality would be.

- Outside of the rail gun, human firepower is exponentially greater in the second movie over the first without any leaps and bounds in technological advancement. They even go out of their way to state that the Autobots haven't shared Cybertronian technology with the humans for fear of its abuse.

- Megan Fox's finally pronouncing her love for Sam. Never in a million years would I think that I'd be placing her/her character on the Con list. Don't get me wrong, I still have a pathetic fanboy crush as I stated in my original Tranformers review, but when her exclamation brings Sam back (or at least partially does - the deceased Primes had a little bit to do with it too) it was so terribly cliche I don't know what to say. Yeah that one is on the writers, but still. Other than still being a nice distraction, her character does nothing for the film.

Now I'm the first to admit that I'm probably a bit nit-picky here because I am and always will be such a Transformers geek. Some of the problems are less important than others, but complete disregard for characters that have been around for 20+ yrs is unforgivable. I am also aware that I probably didn't help myself out by getting my hopes up despite the reviews and comments others had made. Over the past 5 days I've had quite a few people ask me why I thought this installment was a 'debacle'. Well, it's all in the list above. I'm not trying to tell anyone what they should think about the movie, or convince them that it is crap, it's just my opinion. So, anyway, there it is. Hopefully you made it this far. If not, I understand...I probably wouldn't have made it through all of the cons either.


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