Jul 06 2009
On Friday night Lyssa and I rounded up the usual suspects, and after a brief dinner at the TGI Friday's in Tyson's Corner Mall we stormed the movie theatre to catch the 2200 showing of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.
I feel that I should state this up front: if you're looking for a deep movie that'll feed your head, this isn't it. It's a two-and-a-half hour movie about giant robots beating the hell out of each other. If you loved the cartoon as a kid, you'll be in hog heaven watching this flick. Shia LaBeouf reprises his role as Sam Witwicky, Megan Fox returns as Mikaela, and John Turturro is back as the slightly deranged Agent Simmons. The movie starts off with a skirmish between the Autobots and NEST (unit patch: "We'd tell you but then we'd have to kill you") against the Decepticons in downtown Shanghai under cover of toxic spill. It is at this time that we're given a taste of the scale of events later in the movie: the Decepticon called Demolisher manifests as one of the earth movers used to excavate the foundations of skyscrapers in excess of 80 stories in height... Also true to his word, Michael Bay brought in the character of Soundwave, and made him not suck, as promised.
Under the cut lie a more complete review and lots of spoilers. Caveat reader. Something bothered me a great deal about this movie: it plays heavily off of stereotypes and seems not a bit racist in the process. The Autobot twins Mudflap and Skids are characterized as stereotypical African-American folks down to the slang, and I think it was Mudflap who had a gold tooth. The token female Autobot Arcee appeared as a three-in-one Transformer who didn't have much of a role up until the very end when all three of her component Autobots were taken out in the final battle. The humans whose village were occupied at the climax of the movie were as stereotypical of the Middle East as you can get, as were the border guards in Egypt. Wheelbot, who was loosely based upon both Rachet and Perceptor, came across very much like a German Nazi vivisectionist: "Keel ze little one - ve need parts!"
Oh, and the Constructicon Devastator? He's hung like a hamster. No, really - special note is made in the movie by Agent Simmons that the gargantuan multi-Transformer has a pair of wrecking balls for testicles. I suppose Michael Bay had to top Bumblebee urinating lubricating on Sector Seven.
All of that said, Transformers 2 was an entertaining and amusing movie. We get to see Judy Witwicky stoned on marijuana brownies, Sam Witwicky's first day at school rooming with a bunch of Art Bell wannabes (as a result of the first movie, Sam is a walking breach of national security), a firefight with accidentally-animated household appliances, and barely-concealed foreshadowing in the form of a conversation between Optimus Prime and Sam in the middle of a cemetary. I love how Jetfire was redone as an SR-71 Blackbird (albeit crochety and senile). I had a little kid moment when I realized that the sequence where Jetfire was reactivated was supposed to be set in the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum in northern Virgnia - it's nice to see a little piece of home in the movies. Megatron, voiced by Hugo Weaving once more, is back, and for a brief instant we get to see Megatron in the guise of Galvatron near the end of the movie. I also like how Wheelie was turned from an annoying kid with a slingshot into a useful character, albeit as a model truck with a smart vocoder.
The two movies, oddly enough, seem to follow the continuity of the cartoon series from the early 80's. In this movie we get to see Optimus Prime get cacked again (per The Movie), Megatron momentarily turns into Galvatron to lob a couple of high-caliber rounds at the Autobots, Devastator shows up to cause property damage the likes of which have not been seen since 9/11 (I rather liked how Devastator was too massive to stand upright in Earth's gravity and had to move like a gorilla), and the Allspark manifests within Sam's brain to wreak havoc with his life, just as the Matrix did in the Marvel Comics series back in the 80's.
All of that said and done (and a hell of a lot more done than said - it took five days to render a single frame of footage), I really enjoyed this movie despite all of its faults. I had a great time watching it and I'd gladly go to see it again to catch everything I missed because it's such a busy movie. If you don't mind some low brow humor or if watching giant robots pound the hydraulic fluid out of each other is your cup of tea, by all means, catch an evening showing of Transformers 2. If it's not, then you can probably rent it after it comes out on DVD and BluRay and enjoy a 150 minute action movie on a lazy Sunday afternoon.