Friday, June 26, 2009

TRANSFORMERS 2 KICKS ASS

The way I see it, there are going to be three kinds of people in the world: Those who are blinded by the bells & whistles of TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN and think it's the greatest movie of all time... those who care nothing about the bells & whistles and think it's the worst movie of all time... and those who acknowledge that, sure, it's a ridiculous, bloated, trainwreck of a movie... but goddamn, is it freakin' loaded with awesome, balls-out kick-assery! I wholeheartedly fall into that third group -- I couldn't help but love the movie, even as I sat there dumbfounded at how truly awful some aspects of it were. The bells & whistles are THAT impressive -- especially when projected onto the majestic, 80-foot IMAX screen.

Because really, let's face it: It's TRANSFORMERS. It's directed by Michael Bay. Things like "plot" and "acting" and "character development" are all minor details in the grand scheme of things. People who lambast the movie for being essentially devoid of all those things, or who claim that the movie is a sad waste of several hundred million dollars that could have been put towards solving the world's energy crisis or some such thing... well, they just don't get it. It's TRANSFORMERS, dammit! The first film was my #1 guity pleasure of 2007... and the sequel looks like a lock for the same title this year. And it's not because it had a deep and complex plot -- it's because it had GIANT TRANSFORMING ROBOTS FROM MY CHILDHOOD KICKING THE CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER AND WRECKING SHIT.

I guess there is a plot, though... something about the Decepticons needing information that college-bound Sam Witwicky has stored in his mind so their fallen leader can rise again, and the Autobots teaming up with the the military to hunt and destroy hidden enemies, and... umm... oh, sorry, I lost my train of thought because I started thinking about the ridiculous hotness of Megan Fox, and then more explosions and WOWOWOW... so yeah... plot, schmot.

But the battles... holy shit. From the opening debacle in Shanghai to a dramatic duel in the forest to an epic extravaganza amongst the Egyptian pyramids... the action is fast, intense, loud, at times head-spinning, and always jaw-dropping. The forest battle featuring Optimus Prime vs. Megatron, Starscream and Grindor (one of several scenes filmed with IMAX cameras, for the benefit of those who see it on the giant screen) is my personal favorite -- aside from being crazy awesome, it manages to induce some real emotion, as well. By the way... sweet Christmas Christ, Optimus Prime rules in this movie. He is the epitome of all that which is badass. Along for the ride is an even bigger supporting cast of Transformers, which is obviously cool. (Though, what was with those two gangsta Autobots, AKA the most blatantly racist characters in a movie since SONG OF THE SOUTH? Yikes.) Most of the problems that plagued the first film have been fixed -- characters are more easily recognizable by look & voice, and battles are easier to follow, for the most part. (Though it can still get pretty crazy at times, and if you glance away for a split second, or so much as blink, you could get lost!)

As for the humans... I'm still not a huge fan of Shia LeBoeuf, but man, this kid is living a dream life. He's Spielberg's golden boy. He has starred in two Transformers films AND Indiana Jones. And to top it all off, he gets to make out with Megan Fox -- whose hotness knows no bounds and is the only thing that can draw one's attention away from the robots and explosions. She does have some competition this time around, though, both on screen and in real life: Isabel Lucas, who plays Alice, Sam's sexy college classmate with whom there may be more than meets the eye. (Actually, not really, Megan would kick her ass.) Meanwhile, Sam's parents are back and wackier than ever -- Mrs. Witwicky may be the most entertaining human character in the movie, particularly after eating some "special" brownies. Rainn Wilson as a pompous astronomy teacher is an inspired cameo, and John Turturro seems to be enjoying himself. Dialogue is manic and fast-paced, as if every character is high on speed -- but surprisingly snappy and filled with non-sequiturs and ridiculousness, so it works well.

The biggest downside, aside from the trivialities we've already discussed, is that, at two and a half hours, the movie is waaaaaaaaaay too long. They could have trimmed about 45 minutes' worth of unnecessary fat and made a much more streamlined but still action-packed film. In particular, pretty much every scene involving the U.S. military falls flat -- I didn't give a rat's ass about any these characters in the first movie, and they take up way too much screen time once again. Then again, if the movie wasn't so long and bloated, it wouldn't be a prime example of sheer, unabashed excess, which I guess it part of the point. Michael Bay has never been a particularly good filmmaker (and, at times, downright awful... PEARL HARBOR, anyone?), and giving him access to hundreds of millions of dollars, top-of-the-line cinematic technology and free reign to do whatever he wants is akin to leaving a two-year-old child to play by himself, then turning around and finding that he scribbled all over the walls and is now sitting and drooling proudly in front of his creation. But hey, such is Hollywood. (And yes, that is another Megan Fox pic, just for the hell of it.)

Anyway... I'm going on and on, but there's probably nothing really new here. If you're going to see TRANSFORMERS 2, you're going to see it; if you're not, you're not. But in my humble fanboy opinion, this movie is as much of a thrill ride as we've ever seen on the big screen, and it's enough to overcome any & all shortcomings (of which there are many). Should Michael Bay decide to take another few hundred million dollars out of the mouths of the world's starving children and give us a third installment in a couple of years, I just have one thing to say: AUTOBOTS, ROLL OUT!

2 comments:

  1. Ben,

    *sigh*

    -Nokes

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  2. I had a bit of a brawl with my blogmate over the awesomeness of this movie. I am pro Transformers2 and she was con. I feel she should be fired. Nuff said. Check us out: Little Junkies: http://littlejunkies.wordpress.com/2009/06/26/love-lost/

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