Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

Oh Michael Bay. How you love to blow stuff up. I think Al Gore and Bay must be the environmental equivalent of matter and antimatter: one’s on a mission to save the Earth, the other destroys it every chances he gets. This time around, the destruction isn’t just restricted to America. No, China, France and Egypt all get in on the fun.

And just so we’re clear, this is a movie about shape-shifting robots from space, so for all of you who are just looking for a reason to crack on this flick, you might want to move along now. I know I’m probably not the best expert on the internal motivations of our friendly Autobots. I did have more Go-Bots (the ghetto Transformers of my youth) than the Hasbro-approved toys. But to be honest, I actually think Bay and Transformers are a match made in a little boy’s sandbox imagination.

“Dad, you know what would be cool? What if the Decepticons have been on Earth for a really, really long time? And what if they end up destroying one of the pyramids? And what if there’s this massive Decepticon made out of the bodies of other Decepticons?”

“But son, isn’t that a little too much like Voltron?”

“So? It would be so cool! Plus I think there should be lot of little Transformers and one of them can hump a girl’s leg cuz that’s funny when our dog does that to my sister.”

Get the drift? Yeah, the dog-humping jokes are a low grab for laughs, but still…you can see the juvenile mind at work here, in a mostly good way. This is a movie about robots. Who transform. And they came from space. Believability isn’t on the priority list here. Fun is.

And ultimately, that’s exactly what Revenge of the Fallen is. A two hour-plus amusement park ride in the land of the Transformers. To be completely honest, I was surprised at the amount of plot that was actually included here. They build on the premise of the first by expanding the back-story of the robots, sum up how the Autobots have remained on earth searching for rogue Decepticons, follow Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky to college…and that’s just in the first half of the film. Shoot, they even gave John Turturro’s character a fairly plausible reason to return and have fun with his goofy government character from the first movie, now with an added side of conspiracy theory madness for kicks.

The filmmakers also upped the ante on the robot side of things and this is where the visual and audio effects crews really got a chance to shine. There are some terrific new robot designs (a ton of them!) and the fight scenes seem more in-depth and more intense than the first time around. There’s plenty of mechanical dismemberment to go around, including ripping hearts out, impalings and your run-of-the-mill facial realignments. The robots are loud and the explosions are even louder.

Finally, a quick word about a story related to Revenge of the Fallen that I’ve started seeing making the rounds, even before the film has been officially released. It’s the presence of two jive-talkin’, gold-toothed Autobots known as the Twins (Skids and Mudflap). Some people are floating the notion that these two are blatantly racist black stereotypes. While I get and somewhat understand the need to read some sort of social subtext into everything that comes across our collective path, I think that this is a pretty big stretch.

At the very least, if we’re going to go down that path, shouldn’t we be taking up arms for Jetfire, a geriatric robot who walks with a cane, slobbers a bit when he talks, and generally wheezes and has a tough time moving around? Where are the old folks-supporters crying “ageist!” The fact of the matter is that, yeah, the twins definitely come across as black stereotypes, in the same way that Sam’s mom comes across as a mom stereotype and John Turturro comes across as a possibly Jewish conspiracy nutball stereotype. This is a summer blockbuster and a Michael Bay one to boot. These sorts of films are painted in incredibly broad strokes. In my opinion, the Twins are no more or less offensive than Token, the black friend on South Park who inexplicably has an innate ability to play bass. If his character offends you, you’ll probably get offended by this and would be better off just skipping it all together.

In the end, you know what you’re getting into here, or at least you should, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the better part of the last five years. Robots. From space. Who transform. Massive explosions and lots of action. It’s all here in one nicely wrapped package. And speaking of package, did I mention that you see a robot’s balls? Don’t worry; you’ll know it when you see it. If you’re going to see this, it needs to be experienced on the big screen. So if you’re on the fence, check your brain at the door and go have a good time.


Jeremy Hunt
Review by Jeremy Hunt
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