Thursday, June 25, 2009

REVIEW: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Year: 2009
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Ramon Rodriguez, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

After grossing more than $708 million worldwide, their was no doubt that their would be a sequel to Transformers. In September 2007, Paramount announced a late June 2009 release schedule for the sequel and the film was given a $200 million dollar budget which is $50 million more than the first film. Considering the budget was much more this time around, Michael Bay started thinking of what action scenes that were left out of the first film, were going to be used in the next one. Writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who penned the first film, originally passed on the sequel because of a busy schedule. Paramount than began searching for new writers in May 2007, but wasn't impressed with the ideas they were getting from them. They convinced Orci and Kurtzman to return and brought on Ehren Kruger who impressed creator Hasbro with his knowledge of the Transformers mythology. Most of the cast members returned for the sequel and filming began on May 2008.

Plot Outline:
Two years have passed since Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and the Autobots saved the human race from the invading Decepticons. Now he's preparing for the biggest challenge of his life: leaving home for college. With the destruction of the Allspark, the Autobots make the best of their lives on earth, working in league with the military as part of a top-secret team called NEST. Meanwhile, the Decepticons learn what Sam doesn't know: he alone holds the key to the outcome of the struggle between evil and the ultimate power of good. With the help of the Autobots, the soldiers of NEST, and former Sector 7 Agent Simmons (John Turturro), Sam and his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) must uncover the secret history of the Transformers presence on earth, and the sacrifices that have to be made to save it from an ancient threat sworn on returning here for revenge--an ancient Decepticon named The Fallen.

Michael Bay was bent on making this film bigger and far more louder. In the end, that's exactly what he did. The film feels more like a 2 hour demolition derby rather than a blockbuster sequel. The story is literally none existent for the first half and slowly picks up during the second. Their was many times where I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on and that thought also carried over to the action scenes. Whats the point of having the Autobots fight the Decepticons if you cant even tell who's winning? Its just badly edited and really not as exciting as it should be. I complained that the first film focused too much on the human characters and very little on the Transformers themselves. I appreciate that Bay and the writers listened to us fans who wanted more robot action, but why do so if its going to make the film incoherent? Theirs hardly any character development and the dialogue is absurd. The Transformers themselves can tend to sound annoying especially "The Twins" which I thought could have easily been left out of the film. Sam and Mikaela's relationship is also bland, and only gets somewhat interesting when they fight. The other major road block is the films run time. Revenge of the Fallen clocks in at 150 minutes and it really feels like its too much. The average Joe is going to think I'm crazy for complaining about the films run time especially when the film is full of action scenes, but the fact is that the films pacing is off. Their were parts of the film that dragged and really made it somewhat boring. By the time the film is over, you wonder if you even got any satisfaction out of all of this.

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye) returns as the charming, yet clumsy Sam Witwicky. He does a pretty good job of keeping what made his character interesting the first time around, which was his funny remarks. LaBeouf was involved in a car accident half way through filming the film and filming was only delayed by 2 days because the writers found a way to incorporate his injured hand into the story. I'm glad he was still able to perform most of his stunts and I enjoyed his work here. Megan Fox also returns as Sam's girlfriend, Mikaela Banes. Her acting is alright in this film, but she still feels like shes only their to please the male audience. Her character doesn't get much development and still feels like a sidekick. Her relationship with Sam isn't interesting and feels alittle tacked on. Ramon Rodriguez plays as Sam's roommate, Leo. His character is really annoying and adds literally nothing to the story. He is a pointless character that also feels tacked on and doesn't entertain in the least bit of way. I got so tired of him screaming through out the movie that I started wishing that a Decepticon would come and kill him already. Josh Duhamel reprises his role as Captain Lennox and he too is pretty lame here. His character hardly gets enough screen time and theirs no character development on him what so ever. Whats the point of keeping this guy alive? Does he get any major scenes in the film? What does he bring to the table?

Revenge of the Fallen features the same great special effects that were seen in the first film. The team at Industrial Light & Magic who had done the effects for the first film, have also done the effects for the sequel. The Transformers are more lightened this time around and better constructed. They feature more parts and their animation has been re-done. Hasbro became more involved with the design for the robots and had the writers focus more on combining parts. The effects for Devastator proved to be a challenge because of his many auto parts. Revenge of the Fallen's special effects easily left me impressed the way the first film did. The films source is in great condition which shouldn't come off as a surprise considering the film just came out. Their is a hint of grain splattered around the image, but its in no way distracting. The color palette is excellent and very much vibrant. This is a darker sequel, but the many different variety of colors on the Transformers, is easily impressive. Black levels are simply perfect and I didn't notice any drop in quality during the night scenes. Flesh tones are spot on perfect and have that warm feel to them. Detail is excellent and easily one of the finest I have seen on a new release. Close ups feature some great clarity and you can literally see drops of sweat on Sam's face.

The soundtrack in Revenge of the Fallen is just as exciting as the one in the first film. Composer Steve Jablonsky (Transformers, Friday the 13th) returns once again to score the music for this film. I was happy to see that he was the right man for the first film and that doesn't change here. His music from the first film is back and sounding better than ever. His sound design for the film is just as epic and exciting. We also get a set of other music from a variety of artists. Linkin Park is back again to have a song featured in the movie and its just as good as their last song "What I've Done". Their new song "New Divide" is awesome and goes well with the film. I raved about how loud and amazing the bass was in the last film, but to my knowledge, Revenge of the Fallen sounds even more better. The film is essentially 90% action so it shouldn't come off as a surprise that the bass sounds thunderous. Its dynamically spread and doesn't sound like its focused on the center only. Revenge of the Fallen is sure to be the new demo disk to show off to your friends. I expect the Blu Ray to be pure reference material when it hits later this year.

Revenge of the Fallen is just a scrambled mess that is lousy and easily forgettable. The story is almost none existent and poorly put together on the big screen. Theirs no character development and the film tries to win its audience over with over the top action scenes that you can barely see. Its dialogue is cheesy and the story consists of too many annoying characters that aren't needed. With the pacing not as good as the first film, Revenge of the Fallen suffers from being too long of a movie. The cast is alright, but Shia LaBeouf still remains the only person that's enjoyable on the screen. The special effects are top notch and just as breath-taking as the first film. The soundtrack is also a winner and some of the loudest bass usage I have heard. Linkin Park's new song for the movie, New Divide is just plain awesome. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to say pass on this one. If your looking for a summer popcorn flick than go see the first film or just go see Star Trek again. If you desperately want to see this movie than Id at least wait for the DVD/Blu Ray.

Grade: D+


Andrew The Dark said...

wow i wasn't expecting a review from you this quick. I too was disappointed by this. I couldn't even tell what the story was. Action was awesome though

2 Dollar Productions said...

Thanks for this review. I finally watched the first one like a month ago on DVD & even though I thought I'd hate it, I actually enjoyed it. The sequel seems like a mess from the previews & your review confirms that . . . but still might go catch a matinee if I'm really bored & want to get out of the heat.

Jaccstev said...

In all honesty, I'm so disappointed with this sequel. This is just an overly long and unruly sequel that effectively demonstrates bigger and louder doesn't always mean better. That is absolutely what that Michael Bay never learned.

micky said...

dang that f*cken sucks. movie looked sick from the trailrs. ill hold off for da DVD.

The Mad Hatter said...

Yours is the first review I've read to make mention of "New Divide", and I couldn't agree with you more that it's a kick-ass song. I even dug the way they incorperated the main riff into the orchestral score of the movie!

But speaking of music, what the deuce was up with "21 Guns"?? Did Paramount have to pay a shitload of cash for the rights, and then decide to make sure they got their money's worth?? I swear they must have cued that song up about five times in the opening twenty minutes!

Great review - lousy movie.

Farzan said...

@Andrew The Dark:
yeah, I tried to get it out as quick as possible. I know this was probably the most anticipated movie of the year so It was important to get a review out quick as possible to let people know if its worth their theater money.

@2 Dollar Productions:
I agree, the first one was enjoyable. It had problems, but they were forgivable for the most part. I would suggest you wait for a matinee or the Blu Ray if you want to wait alittle longer. This is far from a must see and Public Enemies is coming out tomorrow.

It definitely puts the perspective of bigger and louder doesn't always work. The problem with Bay is that he always wants to move to another scene as quick as possible without even fleshing out the characters. Just like most people, I don't mind watching a mindless action movie, but theirs a certain line for just how mindless the movie really is. I for one think Revenge of the Fallen has certainly crossed that line.

I hate when studios do that. They make the trailers seem so cool and just flat out awesome without showing any of the films weakness. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a good recent example of this. Trust me, your doing yourself a favor by holding out for the DVD.

@The Mad Hatter:
Glad to always be the first in doing things, but I'm also not sure about the constant use of 21 guns. Maybe they were trying to please more of that teenage audience.