Review: TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 April 2010



The first TRANSFORMERS (2007) was a gargantuan hit, grossing at a whopping $319 million in the domestic box-office alone while reaping an even bigger money of $706 million worldwide. And shortly after the film won Best Movie at 2007 MTV Movie Awards, an inevitable sequel is quickly gets underway. The good news is, the second installment, TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN delivers the kind of summer popcorn-fueled extravaganza people has come to expect in the first place. But this heavily-anticipated sequel also reeked of a rotten egg: Michael Bay's "bigger and louder" filmmaking motto takes the whole "so bad, it's good" category into whole new level. Just imagine all the previous flaws surfaced in the first film are now doubled up in a spectacularly annoying epic proportion. 

The film opens with a brief prologue dated way back 17,000 B.C. where we learn the alien robots, particularly the Decepticons has long existed before our time. Here, we also introduced to the original leader of the Decepticons called the Fallen (voiced by Tony Todd), whom we later seen him exiled off the face of the Earth and never seen or heard ever since. Cut to the present day, the U.S. Army Force has now co-operate with the Autobots, lead by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) to seek and destroy the Decepticons found hidden across the globe. The specially-organized team is called NEST, an elite squad which also manned by the now, two promoted Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson). So far their mission proves to be successful until the rest of the Decepticons, especially Starscream (Charlie Adler) is making their comeback to free their former leader Megatron (Hugo Weaving) from the underwater grave of the North Pacific. In the meantime, the now 18-year-old Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is looking forward to move towards his college life in Paris. But all hell breaks loose again when he finds a shard of the All Spark cube inside his sweatshirt and starts to have strange vision about alien symbols that is potentially lead to something very important. Still he doesn't want to get involved with trouble anymore and decides to live like any normal kid. So he leaves behind the shard to his hot girlfriend, Mikaela Burns (Megan Fox), who is now working for his father as a mechanic. Despite their long-distance relationship, they agree they will regularly keep in touch via webcam chat. Once in Paris, Sam lives with a geeky and highly paranoid roommate Leo Spitz (Ramon Rodriguez), who apparently knows a lot about the so-called "government conspiracy" theory about the existence of alien robots. Adding to the mix, is a mysterious but insanely hot blondie named Alice (Isabel Lucas) who happens to be sexually interested for Sam. Unbeknownst to Sam, Alice is also an evil-in-disguise waiting to reveal herself in no time. It doesn't take long before Sam and Mikaela crosses path at some points, where they are forced to join forces with the Autobots again to stop the Decepticons once and for all. 

If the plot sounds awfully familiar, that is because returning screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, as well as Ehren Kruger, doesn't bother the little thing called "subtlety". The plot is wafer-thin at best, and the dialogues are terribly cheesy. In fact, just about everything presented here is a lazy rehash of the first film. Only this time the story is unnecessarily stretched to a bloated 147 minutes desperately needed for a proper trimming. 

While the first film has at least invests some quality time on his characters development, they are almost non-existent here since everyone are relegated to stick figures. Even Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, who both likable in the first film, are now going through the blind motion. LaBeouf's increasingly neurotic acting really gets into one's nerves as if he's on overdose or something, while Megan Fox continues to parade around as a distracting sex symbol who does a lot more worse in her "acting" skill. Other than looking insanely hot in her revealing dresses, she doesn't have a clue how to emote in a least convincing way (one particular scene requires her to act sad after finding a presumably dead Sam lying on the ground in the cliffhanger finale, is especially laughable). The rest of the supporting actors are all throwaway characters with people like Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson reduced to thankless parts parading around looking all tough and little else. In the meantime, Kevin Dunn and Julie White, are surprisingly given bigger roles as Sam's annoying parents who both mainly appear as filler in between scenes. Julie White is particularly cringe-worthy, where a painfully unfunny scene involving her running all amok in the college after overdosing a bag of weeds. If that's not enough, the inclusion of Ramon Rodriguez's Leo Spitz fares even worse than one might ever imagined. Not since Jar Jar Binks was introduced to our consciousness, Ramon's unfunny performance is so terribly annoying that his character is best to be cut off altogether. Newcomer, Australian-bred Isabel Lucas gives a run of money for Megan Fox for being such a hottie here. But like Megan Fox, her "acting" skill leaves little to be desired of.

The biggest problem about this film is Bay's over-the-top decision to make his film as broadly outrageous as possible. While being over-the-top isn't wrong as long as the result is fun, there's no such case for the film here as everything are cranked up to such intolerable level it's an ultimate test of patience even for most jaded viewers who used to this kind of trashy fare. 

At some point, Bay also goes AUSTIN POWERS-like filmmaking style here, complete with sexual and racist overtones involving the ghetto-talkin' Autobots duo Skids and Mudflap (both voiced by Tom Kenny, of TV's Spongebob Squarepants fame), and some out-of-the-place humping jokes: the one involved a Chihuahua and a pug, and another one between a tiny Decepticon and Mikaela's leg! 

As for the robots, only Peter Cullen's Optimus Prime stands out against the rest. The others are sadly reduced into mostly come-and-gone, forgettable appearances. The introduction of the Fallen, which is supposedly the main point of this sequel, proves to be more of an afterthought and his character is also criminally underwritten. Hugo Weaving, who proves to be so devilishly fun as Megatron in the first film, is surprisingly reduced to a second fiddle. As mentioned earlier, the film is way overlong for its own good. The last scene, which set in the Egypt, is particularly a test of patience where Bay seems to be losing control of his direction altogether and doesn't know how to put a full stop at the right moment. Commenting further is the long-awaited, fan-favorite's appearance of the gigantic Devastator which supposed to be the film's highlight but the filmmakers is taking things for granted by making him all too brief. 

Worst still, it's hard to believe an ultimate alien robot like Devastator is so easily defeated, not by Autobots, but by a mere missile fired from the U.S. Army force. The scene grows lazier, with Optimus Prime easily eliminated Megatron and particularly the Fallen so briefly that at least the filmmakers can do is to make the Fallen character more difficult adversary to be dealt with. 

With a huge $200 million budget to burn, director Michael Bay knows well how to distract the viewers with all the cool stuff but have little clue to invest least credible moments in term of story and characters development. Where everything else fails, it's still relieved that TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN remains a worthwhile summer popcorn fare (in the mindless way, of course). Together with cinematographer Ben Seresin, Bay has crafted some of the most spectacular action set pieces of the summer so epic it's best watched in the theaters for the ultimate cinematic experience. All the technical values are top-notch, while the special effects of the robots are so seamlessly blend against the background and even more lifelike than ever. Among the highlights are the opening scenes featuring the destruction of the Wheelbots in the city, and a memorable duel involving the sword-wielding Optimus Prime battling against three Decepticons in the open forest. 

Overall, it's a huge disappointment for most people expecting the second installment a better improvement.

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