Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Directed by Michael Bay
Dreamworks/Paramount Pictures, 2009
Before I break this film down, I am going to go straight to the point. Transformers is in no way perfect. I will admit that even the first film had a better developed story. In addition, Revenge’s two-and-and-half-hour running time had me fighting my bladder towards the end. However, I believe the film succeeded in its goal to be an entertaining summer action film. Critical consensus be damned, the only opinion on films that truly matters to me is my own.
With that out of the way, I will now take out the scalpel (which happens to be the name of one of the Decepticons, BTW) and dissect the film and see what makes it tick. I will apologize in advance for any overuse of Star Wars references (actually there are only two).
As with most sequels, the film features much more action than the first film. Revenge opens with an Autobot vs Decepticon fight in Shanghai. This sequence introduces some new Autobots to the fray with the pink motorcycle Arcee along with two other motorcycle bots and the twins Skids and Mudflap. Sadly, Arcee — a fan favourite from the show — does not get much screen time, though we do see plenty more of the twins (more on that later).
The weakest bits of the film are the early scenes with Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky starting off in college. Some of the scenes in this sequence were downright cringe-worthy, whether revolving around Sam’s hokey conspiracy theorist roommate or the seductive girl that seems to have too much of an interest in Sam.
Speaking of girls, I guess I have to mention that Megan Fox is back in the role that introduced her to the minds of horny teen boys everywhere. I’ve made it no secret that I am not a fan of Fox, who was obviously cast as eye-candy and not much else. Like, really, would an uber-geek like Sam Witwicky really have a chance with a girl that looks like she came straight from the pages of GQ? What happened to the days when more average looking girls (such as Kirsten Dunst — who I remember from Small Soldiers back in 1998) were cast in roles like this?
Now that I have that out of my system, let‘s get back to the robots, namely “The Fallen” of the title. The best description of this Decepticon’s role is that he is the Emperor to Megatron’s Darth Vader. The Fallen stays in the background for most of the film, before appearing during the climatic battle. Megatron is obviously resurrected in this film and Hugo Weaving has many more lines than he did in the first film. I was also happy that there was decent dialogue for Starscream, my favourite Decepticon. Fans will also be happy that a bone was thrown and Frank Welker was cast to provide the voice of Soundwave, among others.
The Decepticons are hands-down the focus of this film, with most of the Autobots on the sidelines for the bulk of the movie. The only Autobots featured throughout the film are Bumblebee and the aforementioned twins. The twins are the most controversial characters in this film, since they are based on racial stereotypes played for comic relief. They have already been dubbed the “Jar Jar Binks” of the Transformers films. I personally enjoyed the comic relief of the RC-Car Wheelie more.
I saw the film in IMAX, the way it was meant to be seen. Four scenes within the film were shot specifically in the IMAX format. For the most part these were action sequences and the change in aspect ratio really creates a bit more of an immersive experience (too bad those scenes occupied a very small portion of the film).
I will conclude by talking about the film’s length. I wouldn’t disagree to say that the film could have used some trimming, since the first two acts are about an hour each. However, the climatic battle, which takes up the remaining half hour, is good enough to make the first two hours worth the wait. The highlight of the final showdown is obviously the gargantuan Devastator, who is made up of the individual Constructicons. Devastator’s sheer enormity brings a phenomenal sense of scale to the final battle.
Ultimately, I came into this film expecting an exciting action film and that is what I received. I am sure that people will disagree (and the poor reviews elsewhere confirm this); however, I was satisfied with the film and really, that’s all that matters to me.