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Matt's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review

Updated on November 14, 2009

Despite being universally reviled by critics, the Transformers sequel is not nearly as bad as they say. Michael Bay is not a filmmaker that would be or should be taken seriously by critics – or audiences for that matter. The two best films in his filmography are Armageddon and The Island. For the most part Bay is known by critics to be a director of big budget and extravagant action films with little to no plot or performance involved. While the plot to Revenge of the Fallen is rather thin, it is by no means non-existent. All that being said, I did not go into this movie looking for anything particularly intelligent – what I wanted was fun, and fun was exactly what I found. The movie is not without flaws however.

Observations

-          The Twins and The Roommate – There were several new characters added into the mix for this installment.  The Twins refer to two autobots that bicker constantly and offer comic relief.  It might have worked for the first half hour they were on screen, but eventually their repertoire degraded to just being annoying.  The other new character introduced to the movie was Sam’s new roommate who gets pulled into the main action by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  His character was little more than a distraction – I spent much of the movie wondering why he was there… not good.  I have no problem with the fact that they added new characters, it happens with every sequel ever made.  But there is no point to adding new characters if they don’t add anything to the story.

-          Crude sexual humor/content – There were a number of sexual gimmicks or jokes that I thought were not only unnecessary but totally inappropriate given the target audience: children.  If the bulk of these scenes were cut or changed, the movie would have plenty of laughs to spare, so I am at a loss to understand why that type of thing was included in the first place.  Transformers is a franchise that has quite a young audience, parents who like to be careful about what their kids watch will have a nasty surprise when they see some of the stuff that is in this movie.  This is a serious concern because there were several children in the theater that I went to – one little girl couldn’t have been north of 10 years of age.  It may seem nit-picky to criticize the film in this way, but the sexual content was in no way part of the plot, and was therefore unnecessary, and much like the pointless new characters, it was distracting.

-          The movie was too long – I cannot stress enough how rarely I have criticized a movie as being too long.  I have a lot of experience watching movies that are over 2 hours, often without even realizing how long the film is – The Green Mile, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The English Patient, Dr. Zhivago (that one actually had a built-in intermission).  None of those films were too long, but Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was.  Given the plot of the film, I thought the storytelling could have been just a little tighter.  As it stands the movie is 150 minutes, which is about fifteen or twenty minutes longer than it should be.

Performances

-          Shia Labeouf is the star of Transformers and he is capable enough to hold his own, but that is about as far as it goes.  He has some acting chops, no doubt, but I would really like to see him play a different type of character.  Transformers is not a movie that lends itself to performance, I’d like to see him in a movie that does, then perhaps I can get an idea of what sort of range he is capable of.

-          While Megan Fox was little more than eye candy in the first Transformers, there’s a noticeable improvement in her performance here.  I’d even go so far as to say filmmakers and critics alike could be underestimating her talents.  For now, we cannot know for sure, but time will tell as she continues to develop her craft.  Like Labeouf, I’d like to see her in a more performance-based film.  Until then, I’m going to reserve final judgment on her talent.

-          The one standout performance in this film is Agent Simmons played by the talented John Turturro.  He shows marvelous wit and great comedic timing in this film, stealing virtually every scene he is in.  Bringing his character back for the second installment was nothing less than a stroke of genius.  Michael Bay should be very careful to bring Turturro back for any future Transformers installments.

Music, Cinematography, and Special Effects

-          The score to Revenge of the Fallen was pretty par for the course for what’s been done in the last ten years.  Very intense, and a lot of repetition of a few different themes.  I’d argue the same type of score was done better in other movies, and I’m not sure how well the score would stand on its own.  Nothing special, but it got the job done.

-          Like all Michael Bay films, Transformers is a beautiful looking film.  Considering Bay’s track record, I expected nothing less walking into the film and was not disappointed.  Particularly the final sequence which takes place in Egypt next to the Great Pyramids was very impressive.

-          You can easily see the bloated budget of 200 million dollars up on the screen of this film.  The effects are excellent, but then for a film like this, they would have to be.  We must keep in mind that this is Michael Bay’s home turf, and he is very good at what he does.

The Bottom Line

The best way to go into this movie is this: leave your brain at the door. There’s definitely some good stuff here, between the effects and improved performances by Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. The new Transformers movie is a lot fun.  See it!  7/10.

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