Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
I'm not sure why there are three Transformers films now, except that people keep paying to see them. I had some of the toys when I was young. Nick Thorp had a much larger collection and got the new ones as they became available. I received the Jeep (Hound?) as a birthday present and Jazz and another Autobot as Christmas presents later that year. Somehow I ended up with one of the insecticons that belonged to another friend, but I don't remember ever playing with it. To me, Transformers (1984-87) was a show that ran before G.I. Joe (1985-89*) on WGN. And G.I. Joe had the best cartoon episodes outside of Robotech (1985) with "There's No Place Like Springfield (Parts One and Two)".
So, why would I watch the disaster that is Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)? Mostly out of curiosity. I had heard universally bad things about it and wanted to see what the failures were. The funny thing is that it is the film-as-collage that dooms the whole experience. I don't care that the Autobots are a rather unsavory bunch (and boast two of the strongest candidates to remove Jar-Jar Binks as the top reproduction of Stepin Fetchit in modern cinema), and was happy that the special effects were less metal blur and whirl than in the first installment. But director Bay (and I want to scream writer Roberto Orci, of the I can ruin Star Trek and I was an extremely subpar writer for Xena fame, but there are others credited) can't settle on the story he is telling or what audience it is (primarily) aimed at. Instead, the film is needlessly childish one moment and immediately followed with gross sexual overtones. It spends minutes building up a new, horrible comic character only to pair him with an existing, horrible comic character, and then puts both of them in a rather over the top action sequence of no importance.
I would like to see a team of skilled editors go through the produced footage and assemble what segments they could that would be consistent in tone and story. They could treat it like a related anthology, with each segment allowed its own manner of storytelling. Instead, what is on the screen is a mess. It is part low brow comedy, part sci-fi actioner, part romance (no, not really), and part simplistic political posturing. And even as bad as it is – and it is awful – there is much of the film that looks good. It is clear that Bay knows how to shoot a film, but he doesn't seem to know how to get the story across in a straight and compelling manner.
I don't write reviews for everything I see (and sometimes I wait a while in case I need to film a post with a title), but I couldn't pass up a brief reflection on this trainwreck. Maybe because I wasn't into the toys, or the series, or the horrible animated film, I don't have much invested in the concept to begin with. But I do like movies (you probably can't tell that from how I write about them, but I do), and this one is just a fractured mess of ill-fitting parts.
I could have just gone with the simple, snarky review:
"Because of damage to the DVD, nearly four minutes of the film wouldn't play correctly (from approximately 1:07:23 to 1:11:14). Sadly, the rest of the product made it to the screen."