Monday, June 29, 2009

A movie review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Director - Michael Bay

(Is it at all important to this movie?)
Sam Witwicky - Shia LaBeouf
(Does it matter what her name is?) - Megan Fox

Michael Bay has a certain, oh, what am I searching for, a certain, je ne sais quoi, something I can’t quite grasp, when it comes to making movies. It isn’t that he’s terrible, or that he’s an ego-maniac, so much as he just wants the audience to accept what he is giving them as something good, when, in fact, it isn’t, really. I enjoyed The Rock (1996) enough, but what pattern do we see with Armageddon (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), The Island (2005), Transformers (2007), and now Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)? Sadly enough, we are seeing what the movie industry has slowly evolved into, and even more so depressing, where it is going.

No plot and thinly developed are the ‘it’ thing for big budget Hollywood right now, and it really is depressing. Shelling out $200 million to put together a film that will probably gross 3,4,5x that much in worldwide revenue is what it is all about, which isn’t surprising, but it is sad.

I don’t generally care too much what people think of my opinions, they are, after all, just opinions, and everyone has one just like they have an ass. But I find myself increasingly trying to defend my stance that these types of movies are just plain terrible. I am often thrown the argument that two hours of mindless entertainment is what they expect going in, and if things blow up and hot chicks run across the screen then even better.

Listen closely: I get it.

I get it. I understand the desire or want to sit through a few hours of disbelief and just take it for what it is. I get it! I can still sit through an entire viewing of The Toxic Avenger (1984) (So I assume that makes my point clear?) But that doesn’t excuse filmmakers from putting out better material. It just doesn’t.

There are a plethora of examples of bigger budget movies with cgi or just big explosions, etc, that still count as a decent movie. There can be some thought to plot and character and meaning and still have explosions. Did anyone catch Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy? You may not like the genre and thus don’t care for the films, but there is a definitive difference between what Jackson put on the big screen and what Bay gives us.

Again, I know, I get it. A lot of people want to watch a movie (this movie) that is basically 150 minutes of metal-on-metal screeching and tearing with sound louder than a 1992 Metallica concert. My main issues are the continuity of the entire film, the switching between the robot wars and the human emotion. Why not just make this about the robots? If you aren’t going to develop the human characters in any plausible or forward-thinking way, then why have a series of very lame anecdotes about their lives? And maybe I'm just getting old, but I spent about half the movie trying to figure out which robot I was watching. Do they all have to look so damn similar with their razor sharp shrapnel beards?

Megan Fox is off-the-charts sexy and that alone will bring many to the seats. But her character gives absolutely nothing else to the movie. Does she need to? No, I guess not, but I think she could have, with a little more…oh….je ne sais quoi? Shia LaBeouf is quickly becoming too smug for his stature, and it shows. Any thought of sitting back and enjoying these movies is thrown out the window when Sam Witwicky is given to us as the main hero who gets the girl and saves the world. And yes, I get it.

The plot is pretty irrelevant to the discussion, though there is a battle of the good (Autobots) and the bad (Decepticons) fighting it out on Earth over all kinds of science fiction reasons. Casting aside the numerous fatal explosions the humans survive and the countless scenarios where a robot large enough to scale the Great Pyramids can’t wipe out a few secret army personnel, we’re left with the inevitable robots leaving and shouting that they will be back.

I’m sure we will have a third installment. It makes money, right?

* out of 5

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