While I was too young to be part of the original Transformers ?Generation One? fanbase, I do remember fondly the memories in my childhood saving up for an Optimus Primal action figure, the Optimus Prime of the Beast Wars toyline (soon to be followed by Megatron). I also remember spending plenty of afternoons at a friend?s house, where Transformers was one of the many highlights of our playtime. I can also remember seeing the animated film made back in the 1980s, watching the Beast Wars series on TV, and collecting stats from every Transformer toy I bought.
While it has been a while since Transformers has been a big part of my life, I could remember a few years back when the first announcement teaser for the first Transformers film, and getting excited hearing that Michael Bay (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) would be directing with one of Hollywood?s own grand behemoths Steven Spielberg as executive producer. People who know me could tell you that I was stoked for the film, further intensified by the news of Peter Cullen, the original voice actor for Optimus Prime in the TV shows, returning as Prime; and Hugo Weaving (V For Vendetta, The Matrix Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) lending his voice for Megatron.
Finally, after a long wait, Transformers was finally released in theaters. And much to my dismay, the film was a huge disappointment for me. While the Transformers themselves were animated well by the folks at Industrial Light and Magic, the icing on the cake couldn?t save this awful concoction of a bakery product.
To begin: the film suffered from a weak plot that felt too focused on the humans, which is a complete one-eighty for the franchise considering that any human characters took the backseat while the robots remained the star of the show (where they are supposed to be). If that didn?t already raise eyebrows enough, imagine having an annoying hyperactive teenager (played by no other than the ever-growingly dull Shia LeBeof) - who thinks a owning a cool car has a chance to win the heart of the sexiest girl in school ? being the leading role in the movie. Now this same teenager just happens to inherit an ancestor?s old set of spectacles, which just happens to be the key to finding the All-Spark, which according to the movie is a Transformer artifact that found it?s way on Earth during the war between the Decepticons and Autobots. The map is laser-burned onto the poor man?s glasses when he finds Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, frozen in the Antarctic, trying to retrieve the All-Spark, many a year ago. Now after all this time, the Decepticons finally decide to land on Earth to wreck havoc and retrieve the All-Spark for their dastardly plans. To oppose them, the Autobots come to Earth to save the little prick of a teenager, who alone knows the location of the glasses and is the hope of the world.
Next is the film?s uncanny ability to provide the audience with material that you could easily find in any B-movie aimed at the teenage demographic: cheesy dialogue and acting, a hot actress/boy-actor to provide eye-candy for the boys and girls respectfully, sexual innuendos, a soundtrack including popular artists like the Used, and a ?funny? black man. Of course, this is at the expense of providing any particular fan-service that longtime fans of Transformers could appreciate, other than the appearance of Optimus Prime and Megatron (the overuse of the tagline ?more than meets the eye?). While I could go on forever about how Bumblebee is not the Camero Autobot and Ratchet is actually an ambulance and not a Hummer, or how it would have been nice to see more key members of the Decepticons like Ultrasound, it would be a moot point. In a nutshell, if the movie did do anything for audiences nationwide, it?s would most likely be responsible for Shia Lebeof?s laughable acting career, naughty pictures of Megan Fox becoming ever popular on Google Image Search, and giving Spielberg more money in his pocket in a less-than-likeable way. But it sold well at the theaters, nevertheless. So how can you capitalize the financial success of a blockbuster better than to finance the sequel!
Almost two years later, we now get Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Taking place several years after the events of the first movie, Shia LeBeof?s character now tries to live a normal life as your run-of-the-mill college student while coping with a long-term relationship with love interest Megan Fox. Meanwhile, the Autobots (joined by new members) are now part of a an underground team codenamed ?Nest? that seeks out and eliminates rogue Decepticons after the fall of Megatron, but is getting criticism from the US government, who assume that the Autobot?s presence on Earth is more harmful than beneficial. Things get complicated when Shia Lebeof discovers a shard of the All-Spark in an old jacket, which within seconds of contact, forces him to see symbol sequences in an ancient Transformer dialect whose meaning is a mystery to them. Meanwhile, the Decepticons discover the location of another shard, which they successfully steal and use to revive Megatron, who now orders the Decepticons to search and retrieve the information in Shia LeBeof?s head, which is crucial to the Decepticon?s plans for conquest.
From there, the plot is one unnecessarily convoluted mess. With so many plotlines going on at once, it seemed that the movie itself wasn?t sure which direction it was trying to get itself, hoping that people watching this has extreme cases of ADD and hopes that they focus more on the robots kicking the tar out of each other than focus on what?s actually going on. As before, the presentation of Revenge of the Fallen fares no better than it?s predecessor. Shia LeBeof is as annoying as ever, Megan Fox serves nothing more than eye candy every time she?s on screen, the robots are easier to identify this time around (but not by much) but still hard to see what the heck each Autobot or Decepticon is doing to each other, camera?s out of control any chance it?s got, everything?s loud that it?s unbearable and hampers the ability to even make out what dialogue a Transformer is saying, there?s too many robots this time around (including three of the most annoying characters ever to be seen on screen since Jar Jar Binks), and besides some impressive computer animation and intriguing musical score by Steve Jablonsky, the film in and of itself is not impressive. It might give you some kicks, but don't expect this movie to dazzle after the summer movie season.
The Grade: D