Saturday, June 27, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Official Review

IMPORTANT: THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! If you don't want details, skip down to my spoiler-free review.

Two years have passed since the events of the previous Transformers movie. Sector Seven has been disbanded, but a new alliance between the humans and the Autobots called NEST. New Autobots have arrived on Earth, which is fortunate since apparently more Decepticons have arrived as well. The premise is that during the last two years, the Decepticons would do something (we're never told what), and NEST would show up and try to kill them.

After two years of... whatever, the Decepticons steal a fragment of the Allspark being held at NEST's base, then use it to resurrect Megatron. And it turns out, Megatron's got a boss of his own, who's got plans for the Earth. To implenent them, though, they'll need information... information that's currently stored in Sam Witwicky's head.

Much like the earlier Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen isn't exactly plotty. Despite that, I do have to give the screenwriters some kudos for trying to flesh out some of the "Bayformers" mythos is a way that ties into the Transformers mythos at large. We've got the Fallen, the origin of the Primes, and the Matrix of Leadership. We've also got Bay's usual hallmarks: explosions, the military, explosions, some other actions scenes, and explosions. The result is a mostly-good popcorn action flick. There are a few problems, though, that keep it from being as good as the first one.

For starters, this is a movie that tries to do way too much. There are several new Autobots and Decepticons alike, and most of them have less screen time than the American aircraft carriers. There's Megatron and Starscream looking for Energon to give life to the protoforms on their ship. There's Sam trying to figure out what the symbols in his head are and why the Decepticons want them. There's the Fallen trying to destroy the sun. There's Sam trying to find the Matrix. There's even Devestator, and not as a mistaken subtitle for the tank guy in the last film, but a real, honest-to-goodness giant robot formed from amalgamated construction equipment. The problem is, as they're trying to bring everything to a close for the end of the movie, you've got bots who's names you might not have even caught duking it out in battles that leave one or the other dead after a few unsatisfying minutes.

Bumblebee is a little downplayed in this one, given more spotlight to Optimus Prime (as it should be). Megatron gets a few more lines, but is reduced to a patsy for the Fallen. Starscream's craven opportunism is expanded, which is good, but most of the new characters (including Sideswipe, Sideways, Long Haul, Rampage, Ravage and Arcee) get few if any lines. Soundwave doesn't even seem to leave orbit, and one guy, Grindor, could easily be mistaken for Blackout from the first movie.

Worse, though, are the ones who do get lines, and do get personality. Jetfire turns out to be a crotchety old bot who's slightly senile and walks with a cane. Wheelie is a toy truck who starts as a spy for the Decepticons, switches sides after Mikaela locks him up for awhile, and humps her leg. I could live with those two, mind you. Kids see Transformers, after all, and you gotta have some comic relief... like when Bumblebee peed on Simmons in the first movie.

But then you have Mudflap and Skids. They're irritating like Jar Jar Binks is irritating. They're vaguely racist. I wanted them to die. Hell, I wanted them to not exist in the first place.

Problems aside, Revenge of the Fallen is still, as I already stated, a pretty good popcorn action movie. If you liked the first one, go see the new one. Simple as that.

Final Score: A-

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