Wednesday, 24 June 2009
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Peter Cullen (voice), Hugo Weaving (voice).
Michael "It's Not Loud Enough" Bay
When news of the first Transformers film came out, the idea of Michael “I’ll blow anything up” Bay helming a big screen adaptation of the 80’s toy/cartoon/comic characters was enough to make plenty of fans start shitting bricks. Understandable, if you’re around 30 years of age and actually grew up with Transformers as a treasured part of your childhood; puzzling if you got into Transformers afterwards, as you’d have all the new versions to water things down, plus have no nostalgia to ruin.
Therefore, the script writers pulled a bit of a sneaky trick and made something that could cater to brand new and more recent fans, as well as the original ones (or ‘Generation 1’ haw haw). We got Optimus Prime voiced by the original actor, Megatron and Starscream, plus a smattering of other old-school characters. Most of them were then given brand new looks, and slightly-different personalities. And it worked, more or less.
Unfortunately, REVENGE OF THE FALLEN doesn’t just copy/continue the things that worked in the first film – it also repeats the really, really naff stuff, but under the misguided impression that those things worked better and so included more of it.
Case in point: innumerable mini-Decepticons that chatter in excited pseudo-swearing or ridiculous accents. Did we really need a Germanic doctor robot with comedy specs? Really? And don’t even get me started on the jive-talking Autobot twins (I’m not makng this shit up, but somebody sure as hell did).
The insistence on having alien robots spouting Earth slang is also an annoyance – although it stands to reason that they would pick some of our language up after being on this planet for a while. But when an ancient robot is awakened later in the film and then starts talking in a gravelly (and strangely familiar) British accent, bumps his head and says “Bollocks”, it stinks a bit too much of a cheap joke.
The good stuff, thankfully, just about outweighs the misjudged. Soundwave makes a very welcome appearance (in a clever reworking of his original function), and is voiced by his original voice actor: Frank Welker. Starscream has a much bigger part, too, and the relationship between him and Megatron is spot on. And you still get plenty of scenes with giant robots beating the shit out of each other. And that’s all we really want isn’t it?
It’d have to be, since the story is paper-thin:
Since the events in the first film, the Autobots have been working with the military to track down and destroy any Decepticons left on Earth. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (played by 23-in-real-life-but-looking-more-like-30-years-old Shia LaBeouf) is heading off to college. But it’s okay, because a lot of the other students look too old to be there too. At some point, Sam finds he still has a piece of the All-Spark, and gets Cybertronian info dumped in his brain. The Decepticons plan to resurrect Megatron using a different piece of the All-Spark (quite why it’s taken 2 years to locate it is unclear) and also bring back their real leader, The Fallen (voiced by Candyman himself, Tony Todd). The Decepticons find out Sam has this new info in his head, and try to get him. Autobots and Decepticons fight. The End. It’s impossible to give spoilers away for a film like this as everything is so painfully telegraphed you could see it coming with your eyes closed.
There are a couple of pointless/ridiculous characters – several robots could have easily been cut from the film and it wouldn’t make the blindest bit of difference since they serve absolutely no purpose (the only female Autobot, Arcee, being a prime example). And when an organic (well, sort-of) Transformer is introduced, it just takes the piss and doesn’t make any sense; it feels like a character/idea from a different film *cough* Terminator *cough*
Despite the aforementioned problems, they can be accepted or overlooked due to the overall tone of the film: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN is a loud, slightly goofy movie designed to sell toys. To criticise it too much is kind of redundant. The effects are top-notch, the explosions are plentiful (although there are relatively long gaps between the action, so maybe Mr Bay is mellowing out slightly) and Megan Fox gets her own awful soft-rock piano-ballad theme tune throughout the first half of the film.
And you still get to hear the cool *transforming* noise, which is completely impossible to write down as an actual word.