Friday, July 10, 2009

Michael Bay can’t direct humans

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen reviewed

[I have pasted a few randomly selected stills from the movie to give you a flavour of what I’m writing about]

About a quarter of the way through Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, I had to ask myself:
Why, in spite of its many shortcomings, was I really enjoying this movie.

After all, there’s quite a lot not to like about the movie:

The Autobots weren’t given more of an individual identity as compared to the last movie – in fact, at least the last movie had more then passing references to the supporting Autobot cast. Once again, it’s all just Optimus and, to a lesser extent, Bumblebee. It sucks because its only possible for an audience to root for characters if they’re “humanized” to a degree, which would have been possible by allowing each Transformer to exhibit certain personality traits (gruffness, fear, eagerness).

The Decepticons seem weaker in this installment. Not only does the supreme badass Megatron cow down before his mentor, his mentor pretty much admits he’s going to shit bricks if a true Autobot leader shows up to a fight. So once Prime enters the fray, Michael Bay has already ensured that the audience knows its curtains for the bad guys. Also, I was hoping StarScream would get his chance in the sun this time around.

The comic element introduced by the human protagonist’s parents slips into camp at times. They’re funny at first, kind of like the American Pie dude’s father was funny in the movie. But the jokes deteriorate rapidly into farce. Sometimes it feels like you’re watching an Indian movie. You know - those serious Indian movies which rely on the “bumbling” hired help/servants to provide the laughs. It’s that bad. The humor in general is lame after the first half hour. It kills me that they could have utilized some of the time they wasted on jokes towards giving the robots more of an identity.

After the first 15-20 minutes, basically as soon as Sam walks into college, any scene without a robot sucks ass. Michael Bay canNOT handle hate, gravity, anguish, love – basically any aspect of human behavior and emotion. And, uffff, the dialogue is “has-to-be-heard-to-be-believed” bad.

Sam, the central protagonist, is an ungrateful shit. I mean, who the HELL would turn down an opportunity to hang out with the Transformers? If Optimus Prime came to you and asked you to be his spokesperson, would you actually tell him to leave you alone because you’re a “normal kid with normal problems”? Hell no! Can you imagine the kind of action a guy would get with those kind of friends? Frankly, its utterly implausible that a character Sam’s age would not want to be associated with the Autobots. Angst is angst but this is just fucking preposterous.

So what was it about this movie which had me hooked?

Well, I suppose it was a bunch of things but I’m having a hard time pinning it down.

It could be Optimus Prime. While the Autobot focus was mostly Optimus-oriented, the big guy made the most of his screen time. From his action sequences, to his unquestionably majestic presence, the guy is a movie unto himself. His character would have benefited so much more if he had a dynamic with at least ONE of the other Autobots. But regardless, he carries his race for 150 minutes.

Speaking of action sequences, that may very well be the reason I enjoyed this flick since Michael Bay outdoes himself in this regard. The robot battles in this installment will blow your mind right back through your asshole! The level of detail is spectacular – at times you can track each blow being traded by these massive machines. The special effects in the movie are truly summer-movie worthy and then some. There’s a sequence when some kind of Decepticon dog barfs thousands of spheres into a tunnel leading into a government facility. To watch those spheres combine and turn into something was beautiful – almost a work of art akin to the T-1000’s liquid effect from Terminator 2.

Oh, and the mid-movie fight sequence in the park/woods? To-fucking-die-for. That has to be one of my favorite action sequences of all time.

Notice how the good things about the movie follow a pattern of being non-human. It goes on. The plot being hatched by the Decepticons really hooks you in. You get to learn about a bit of the history of the Transformers and a BIT about where they come from (but not who made them). I’ll give Michael Bay credit for stumbling upon the realization that moviegoers MIGHT just want to know more about the eponymous characters of a movie they spent good money to see.

So yeah, I guess it’s a combination of the reasons above which made this such a fun movie. However, I don’t think I could stomach the human scenes again. Particularly the interaction between Sam and his girlfriend as well as his parents. I’ll deifnetly get the dvd so I can forward past that shit.

As a sidenote, Megan Fox, playing the character of Mikaela Banes, is also looking very nice through the course of the film. The following is a picture to illustrate my point:

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