Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
World War Robot: Transformers Go Global
Staring: Shia LaBouf, Megan Fox
By Tom Bevis
Transformers really take me back to the simpler days of childhood. The first film in the rebooted series was an entirely effective kids movie that was capable of entertaining the entire age spectrum and worked, as well, as a tour de force of the power behind the CGI movement. The sequel is the first true blockbuster of the year, but it’s lost much of the charm of its predecessor.
Much of the sleek CGI graphics carry over from the first film, but now the mechanical characters seem disjointed, hobbled together by random parts that seem more fashionable and fantastic than practical and functional. This doesn’t distract much from the story though, especially when understanding the film as a child would, nor does is distract from any of the other special effects, including sizzling explosions and high-paced robotic gunfights.
Certainly, the film has great pacing and moves nearly from the start, taking very little time to establish place, time, character, and situation, but still doing so entirely effectively. The fast pace and flashy nature of the film’s rendered graphics are designed to keep the attention of the younger audience, and in this regard, the film succeeds entirely.
Where it fails, however, is the producer’s decision of what’s appropriate for a movie that’s marketed mostly to our younger generations. The film is packed with profanity, jokes regarding testicles, fast-talking robots, sexually suggestive (I use the term very liberally) situations, and edgy plays on racism. It may be me, but I don’t want to be taking my five-year-old nephew to see a movie where every five minutes, someone’s joking about metal balls and robots are constantly dropping swear bombs.
The filmmakers traded in their age-friendly comedy and coming-of-age charm of the first film for a profanity-laden humor worthy of any National Lampoon charade that appeals mostly to sex-crazed teenagers and that awkward early-twenty demographic that never fully matured and still thinks that swearing is the best social movement since low-cut jeans.
Gone, too, is the sense of comradarie found in the previous film. There is no sense of cohesion between the multiple facets of the struggle: the young man caught between the robot fued, a geek-operated conspiracy website, an elite squad of soldiers trained to fight along side the robots, and the robots themselves. Instead, each team tends to play out their own storyline and fade when they should be conjoining.
So, trade the children-based audience of the first film for the 16-24 age range and bloat up the story with gratuitous characters, and we’ve got a half-decent picture. But how does it contribute to the franchise’s continuum? Well, massive strides are made in establishing the boundaries of personality within the mechanical characters.
From one robot, the borderline-senile robot who was built as a Decepticon (those are the bad robots) but defected to the Autobots (you guessed it: good robots), we learn that their minds are not based on programming alone like many machines and they are capable of switching sides in their struggle. From a pair of fast-talking twins, we learn that they are able to absorb and adapt to the modern culture of their surroundings. We even get our short first-glimpses of a female Transformer.
The problem, however, is that these new characters are introduced in such large volume and with such frequency that none of them get significant screen time. Therefore none of them are developed as characters and become, instead, tools to show the mental and social capacities of the robots as a group. By the end of the film, the audience doesn’t care who lives or dies because so many characters have been tossed in that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of them all.
The bottom line is, if you can handle toilet humor and have a high-tolerance for robots shooting at one another paired with a very short attention span, this movie’s right up your alley. If you want something that’s deep, though, and offers more than just CGI eye candy, you might want to reconsider your choice.