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‘Revenge of The Fallen’ Only Manages to Transform Into a Shell of Its Former Self

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Hot babes with hot bods. Sick cars and huge bots. Mind melting visual effects and heart shaking soundscapes. Sun destroying ancient alien technology and Matrices of Leadership? Pause for a moment to imagine the sound I am about to make… Pffwhat? Tonight I attended an IMAX screening for three of the previous four reasons inherent in the Transformers canon, but one of these seems fairly foreign to me. What is a Matrix of Leadership? I didn’t know before I entered the theater and I’m still only half sure now. Yet this, along with countless other plot defying tricks, was the way the 2nd Transformers story was told and after 2.5 hours of head scratching and laughing out loud (at all the wrong times) I have to say I’m a bit shocked. At one point I laughed so loud at one of the many sharp turns the story took, that the teenager next to me looked at me like he must have looked as his father during the 1st movie: “What’s so funny, Dad?”

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had as much anticipatory attraction as Megan Fox’s Maxim spread. Coincidentally, she is one of the stars of the movie. But whereas in the first installment she found herself battling the robots herself with as much sass as a lunch lady on Chicken Patty Day (typically Tuesdays where I come from), in the newest film she takes on the role of the trophy wife: spoiled rotten but always getting upset. And boy does she have it great (at least for the first 20 minutes)! She’s attached to the hip with one of the few shining elements of the entire experience; my boy Shia LaBeouf. Like Bernard says to Walt in the hospital room just before the end of The Squid in the Whale, “…great comedic timing [Shia].” But what happened, Orci and Kurtzman (writers)? Did you have to choose one blockbuster to wow people with and one to write off? It was as if they sold the heart of the film up the Nile along with every logical sequence of events that might have aspired to make 50 ft. tall robots battling each other in the Middle East seem plausible. Here’s the thing though: they did it with the first one! Everything from the racially stereotyped new robots to the most unbelievable depiction of Princeton University ever filmed, SCREAMED sophomore slump. [Spoiler Alert] Mom eating weed brownies? Pffwhat?! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for seeing 20 foot high (PG-13) breasts in a freshman dorm room; but when every single breathtakingly beautiful girl on the floor presumably maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school AND had time for extracurriculars (standard Princeton acceptance qualifications, I believe), I have to call foul.

Thank god she is still blindingly hot.

Thank god she is still blindingly hot.

Two summers ago, Transformers begged the question: Does a summer blockbuster really have to sacrifice interesting, somewhat believable story lines and enjoyable characters to achieve domestic box office success? After seeing the first movie several times in the theater, I felt comfortable saying “No.” Now, we have a new answer: you bet your ass. Maybe it isn’t fair to compare the sequel to the first installment, but in the least it could’ve offered us more than ADR-ed Swine Flu jokes and an unrealistic depiction of our Commander in Chief. Am I really supposed to believe my main man Barack would send all those friendly alien Autobots packing at the first sign of doubt? Hell naw! You KNOW Obama’s got the first movie on Blu-ray and he knows they get shit DONE, SON!

At times I thought I was watching Team America: somehow American forces and fantastical beings manage to destroy every other country and sacred place on earth BUT the United States. Shanghai? Highways ripped apart. Jordan (same exact set and location as the first movie, how original)? Irreplaceable ruins smashed to pieces. Oh and Egypt and the pyramids? COMPLETELY DESTROYED BY AN ALIEN MACHINE WITH THE POWER TO DESTROY OUR SOLAR SYSTEM. That sure is convenient… it’s just been sitting underneath all those bricks and we never even thought to investigate it! [Spoiler Alert] I knew it was going to get ugly when Optimus Prime (the NARRATOR and MAIN GOOD GUY) died in a forest 30 minutes in. Not surprisingly (even by a novice screenwriting perspective), the heart and vigor of the film dies with him.

If I sound bitter it’s because I had high hopes for the film. I could go on about many of its shortcomings but it still delivers on the promise of hot bodies and fast changing, exploding robots. There were moments of sheer IMAX dumbfoundery where I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. But beyond that, the whole thing collapses in on itself and its entirely ungrounded means of storytelling and cliched elements. At one point my friend looked at me and said, “Well one more hour left…” at which point we still hadn’t even learned the motives or intentions of any of the main characters (human or robot). Let’s hope the third one can deliver AT LEAST a 5:1 ratio of robot fighting sequences to meaningless human conversation scenes.

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4 Responses to “‘Revenge of The Fallen’ Only Manages to Transform Into a Shell of Its Former Self”

  1. Henning Says:

    The sheer NUMBER of robots was what killed me, as setting aside colors (pink are girl robots!) and sizes (the bigger, the badder), I could barely tell them apart. The last set piece, with its exploding pyramids and scraping metal and SUN-DESTROYING WEAPONS was like one giant robot orgy. Appropriately, I guess, there was plenty of genitalia on display. “I am directly beneath the robot’s testicles!” Michael Bay: Genius.

    ALSO: I never thought I’d be writing this, but…those robots were pretty unbelievably racist. Barack Obama’s Autobots defense initiatives aren’t doing much to help the black community.

  2. Goodbye, Summer « Lifting Fog Says:

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