Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (8/10)

Transformers 2

Michael Bay doesn’t so much make movies as try to figure out how to fit a plot in between his ridiculously bombastic action scenes. Some people love him for it, some people hate him, but, he really technically doesn’t make truly good movies. (The Rock and The Island are the closest he’s come). With ROTF, he seems to have outdone himself, both in the amount of action that overwhelms the screen and the head-scratchingly complex story crammed into the lulls between the booms.Bay’s first Transformers outing was a carbon-copy of “Independence Day,” – long stretches of zero robot action, a story built around some mind-numbingly boring characters, and a disservice to the characters of the Autobots and the Decepticons themselves. Basically, whenever there wasn’t a robot on screen, yawns were sure to be heard. This second chapter aims to correct every single one of these things – by virtually eliminating all the boring build-up and backstory, concentrating the character focus on the Transformers and their mythos, plus the Witwicky family, and daring you to find a spot where you can yawn without missing the overload of image and sound blasting at you from the screen.

Don’t be fooled by the accusations against ROTF that claim both the story and action are incomprehensible – there’s just a whole damn butt-load of both. So let’s start off with the story. Shia LeBoeuf reprises his role as Sam Witwicky, who’s about to head off to college and must leave his beloved car Bumblebee behind. Unfortunately, a scrap of the Allspark (the powerful cube from the first movie) still remains in his beat up old jacket from his battle two years ago. Unbeknownst to him, it imprints a code in his head that causes him to see symbols and images that will lead to a secret that the Autobots have been hiding from him. Meanwhile, the Deceptions are on Sam’s tail in pursuit of the scrap of the Allspark so they can, you guessed it, take over the world. The US Army is now working with the Autobots on stopping Decepticon mayhem, but their alliance is threatened by a nosy government official who blames the Decepticon activity on the Autobots’ continued presence. Oh yeah, and Jon Turturro is back, too, helping Sam figure out what exactly the symbols mean. Megan Fox shows up, too, getting a few Decepticon ass-kicking scenes in, but just like the first one, she’s mostly a pretty a face, even though her relationship with Sam is deepened.

So, I usually try not to do this in reviews, but seeing as how the hate for Transformers 2 and its “incomprehensible plot” is so relevant and rampant around the net, I have to say it: does any part of the above paragraph seem incomprehensible to you? Because it certainly didn’t to me. Once I saw Transformers, I started reading the reviews – at 20% some odd percent on Rotten Tomatoes, pretty much everyone who didn’t like it criticized its lack of/incomprehensible plot, which baffled me. I had to actually try to think of ways that it was incomprehensible, but I couldn’t. I understood everything, from start to finish, even the somewhat ineptly handled dips into the TF mythos. (And speaking of which, diehard TF fans will be happy that there’s a whole lot more Starcream/Megatron going on here.) Are there some parts that aren’t fully explained, or not well enough developed? Yeah, of course. It’s Michael Bay. One instance is when a satellite Decepticon, Soundwave, intercepts transmissions from the army that let him know the location of Megatron’s body, deep beneath the sea. Obviously, this doesn’t make much sense, considering it’s been two years since the events in the first movie and it’s hard to believe that not once did Megatron’s whereabouts come across Soundwave’s sensors. But these are the kinds of things you shrug off as merely hiccups in the plot and more evidence that Bay still has a lot of maturing to do as a filmmaker. (Another example – why do the robots chamber rounds when firing? They’re robots, for crying out loud!)

Transformers 2 2
Now, the action. And boy golly, there’s a LOT of action. Within the first ten minutes we’re plunged headfirst into a dizzying action scene introducing a couple of new autobot friends, in pursuit of a Decepticon in Shanghai. It blows anything you saw in “Transformers” out of the water. Not long after this, all of Sam Witwicky’s kitchen appliances are turned into murderous little robots who go after him, his parents, his dogs, and his house, before Bumblebee rolls in to save the day. There’s tiger Decepticons, good Decepticons, even one that is made up five or six different vehicles, forming one massive monster that sucks everything into its gaping, whirling, garbage-dispenser of a mouth. And the action is frenetic, manic, and kinetic. If you’re not paying attention for more than two seconds, you’ll probably lose track of what’s going on in a given action scene. It’s been said that it’s impossible to tell the robots apart when they’re in robot form, but from my experience that’s not the case at all. Most of the robots are brightly colored with distinctive shapes, so even when they’re battling it out amidst a couple of dozen camera cuts, it’s pretty easy to tell who’s who, and though yes, there are too many camera cuts, each one makes sense – unlike, say, Brett Ratner’s abysmal X3.

In any case, Bay’s extremely talented at creating very entertaining set pieces that absolutely demand our attention, from start to finish. The action scenes penetrate your brain and giant battling bots duke it out on your retina. In that way, it’s sort of an invasive movie – once you enter the theatre, be prepared for two hours and forty minutes of loud, intense, in-your-face crunching crashing metal (and a plot with maybe a hole here and there) that absolutely REFUSES to let up. It may be the first movie I’ve ever seen where the term “nonstop action” is pretty spot on. And I’d like to give Mr. Bay some credit for this. He knows what people didn’t like about TF1 – they complained about the boring plot and lack of, you know, actual Transformers, so he stuffed this one to the brim with a whole shit-load of plot and an even bigger platter of action and special effects. And theres’ some damn creative work going on here – the design of some of the new Transformers themselves are mind-boggling, intricate, and brain-meltingly insane. You can tell nobody gave Bay a roof on this thing – it’s an all out, balls-to-the-wall smorgasbord of cool robots doing extremely cool things. And even if I couldn’t tell you exactly why that particular bullet didn’t destroy that robot, but THAT one did, it’s still a hell of a lot of fun to watch. The animation itself has been upped considerably – Optimus Prime’s face when he’s talking to the meddler who wants to dissolve his alliance with the army is extremely detailed and expressive, and Bumblebee’s expression when he finds out Sam is going to college (he can’t take his favorite Camaro) is cleverly done and actually made me a little sad for the poor car.

Essentially, Revenge of the Fallen is little more than a special effects extravaganza designed specifically to deliver the goods on some very kickass robot action scenes, and in that sense, it succeeds in spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds. The plot, this time around, is also a lot more interesting and engaging, and’ll keep your brain humming in between the seemingly ubiquitous action. It’s also funnier than the first movie, too, like in a scene where Sam’s mom accidentally buys some “green” brownies at Princeton. Sam’s parents in the first movie were a highlight and had perfect chemistry together, and this movie is no different; though their role is enlarged and they have more of a chance to shine. But in the end, let’s be honest with ourselves – if you’re going to see a Transformers movie, the first question is going to be, “Is the action good?” And the answer is a hearty and bone-crunchingly loud, “YES.” There’s just something about seeing giant alien bots transforming into cars and back again so they can kick each other’s asses that’s appealing to the kid in me, I have to be honest. I really, really, did like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and I do think it’s better than the first one, in many ways. I will agree that it’s not an entirely good movie – it’s made to entertain and blow your fucking brain away, and little else, but sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. I’ll take this supposedly “mindless, incomprehensible” fluff over “Up’s” pre-packaged Pixar cuteness any day. (Side note: don’t get me wrong, I loved Up, but it wasn’t one of my favorite Pixar movies.)


9 Responses to “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (8/10)”

  1. I respect your opinion of the film, although I am entirely on the other end of the spectrum, but I found your “rant” at Mr. Roger Ebert to be immature, uncalled for, and boorish, at best, at worst was mean spirited, rude, and clueless.

    I am 24 years old, saw Transformers 2 (for short) opening day with a friend in a fully packed theater, and am with Ebert in that most of the Bots looked too similar (the notable exceptions are Optimus, Bumblebee, and the motorcycle chicks), and there were far too many of them to really make out at all, and the action was too up close and personal to get a full view of what was going all the time (the exception was the first part of the forest fight); I literally had no idea that his parents were kidnapped by the Decpticons because one minute you see them at a Paris cafe, then a scene involving Sam (or the military) then we cut back and they are simply running from something, but you do not know what? Without properly setting up who is chasing them and why they scene is needless and awkward, and only lengthed an overly-long film (the first one was too long too). The plot was confusing, not so much in what you mapped out (although you did omit some things, ala everything at college; am trying to be spoiler free, so I am being slightly vague, sorry) so much as to how it’s presented in the film. It’s completely scattershot and is only giving bits a time, which is fine, if they all fit together, but everything with the parents, at college, and the liason trying to get the Autobots off of Earth felt like they were from complete different movies than the plot of machine buried in Eygpt.

    Does that me lazy? Does that me stupid?

    I pray to the powers-that-be that you feel great shame for how horridly you handled commenting on Mr. Ebert’s blog, and I can’t wait for karma to get you back, because you definitely deserve to be kicked in the ass a few times for it.

  2. “I found your “rant” at Mr. Roger Ebert to be immature, uncalled for, and boorish, at best, at worst was mean spirited, rude, and clueless.”
    Mr. Ebert occasionally pisses me off when he writes reviews that clearly have no interest in accepting the movie’s very basic premises. And thus, he rejects the whole movie because he doesn’t like the fact that the bots are animated, or the fact that the Enterprise uses warp speed. Sometimes, his accusations are also due to missing out on facts clearly outlined in the film. In his review, he complained that it’s “not made crystal clear” why Sam’s parents are dropped off later by the Decepticons – when it clearly logically follows from earlier that the Decepticons are laying a trap for Sam. Mr. Bay doesn’t connect every single dot for the viewer, no – but trusting your viewer to understand certain things without spelling it out for them is a mark of good filmmaking. If they had stopped to exposition for thirty seconds about why exactly Sam’s parents appeared then and there, it would have made no sense and brought the action to a grinding halt. And I’m sorry if it was too confusing for you, but as soon as Sam’s parents were kidnapped, it’s painfully clear that Decepticons did the job – who the hell else? And when they’re dropped off later, it’s not important where they’ve been kept or why or how long – at this point you’re just nitpicking because you don’t like the movie. My point in this illustration is that though I will agree with you that some parts of the “rant” were childish, on the whole I felt it was necessary and very called for by Mr. Ebert’s review that criticized the movie for flaws I feel it did not commit. So let’s get further into your comment, shall we?

    “I…am with Ebert in that most of the Bots looked too similar”
    Good for you. I didn’t once mix up any of the bots. What exactly does this prove? That some people are good at following action and others not? I could tell who Jetfire, Optimus, the motorcyle chicks, the two annoying African-American good guy bots, the massive two wheeled robot at the beginning of the film, Starscream, Megatron, etc….all of them I could point to at any given time thorughout the movie and say, “Yup, there you go – Starscream just ripped through Optimus’s chest.” So forgive me if I feel like Mr. Ebert made blanket statements about the movie when clearly it was not the case. He also makes an even more egregious mistake – claiming the robots aren’t expressive, but you tell me that when you’re looking at Optimus Prime as the president’s aide is trying to kick him out of the alliance of the US military – his giant metal face has a bit of sadness, disgust, and resignation, and a bit of towering threat hovering over it all. And also, might I suggest that the reason you weren’t able to tell the bots apart was because you didn’t care to?

    “there were far too many of them to really make out at all, and the action was too up close and personal to get a full view of what was going all the time”
    Again, this is a matter of personal taste. Just because you couldn’t make them out “at all” – which seems incongruous with what you JUST SAID about knowing who Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, the motorcycle chicks, etc were – doesn’t mean that nobody else can. I didn’t have any trouble with any of it. As for the action being “too up close and personal” – I enjoyed this decision by Michael Bay – it puts you right smack dab in the middle of the fight and tosses your around like a rag doll, just like the Transformers are doing onscreen. And since when does “a full view of what was going on all the time” a prerequisite for quality? It’s a matter of style – so long as you know what’s happening, you don’t need to have a full view of all the robots all the time.

    “The plot was confusing, not so much in what you mapped out (although you did omit some things, ala everything at college”
    Yes, because these were smaller plot details that I didn’t want to put in a review, and also, what was wrong with some of the college plotlines? I found Sam’s roommate to be a decent enough actor and a good man to play alongside Jon Turturro, and as for the transformer fem-bot, yes, her presence was never explained at all, but really, who gives a crap? Just because you don’t know why exactly something’s going on doesn’t mean you don’t understand it or that it’s incomprehensible.

    “It’s completely scattershot and is only giving bits a time, which is fine, if they all fit together, but everything with the parents, at college, and the liason trying to get the Autobots off of Earth felt like they were from complete different movies than the plot of machine buried in Eygpt.”
    Yes, it is scattershot and some of the stories are incomplete, but there IS plot, plenty of it, and the whole machine buried in Egypt works well enough with the first part of the movie (college, Autobots exile), that it’s not too jarring – merely like two very different acts from the same play. My bone to pick is with the critics who scream and bitch at the movie for having “no plot,” which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is simply an ignorant accusation. Besides, the whole plotline of the Pyramid starts within the first ten minutes, when Sam finds the scrap of the Allspark in his jacket. It runs through basically the whole movie.

    “Does that me lazy? Does that me stupid?”
    Excuse me? Why would this make you lazy or stupid?

    By the way, you mention having seen it in a packed theater. I work at a theater, and nearly every reaction coming out or the movie has been positive. Going into and out of theatres while performing theatre checks, people laugh at the funny parts, ogle and whisper excitedly at the insanely cool robot parts, and keep in hushed silence at the solemn parts.

    “I pray to the powers-that-be that you feel great shame for how horridly you handled commenting on Mr. Ebert’s blog, and I can’t wait for karma to get you back, because you definitely deserve to be kicked in the ass a few times for it.”
    Thank God one of Ebert’s ever-faithful mindless crusaders is here to put me in my place. Forgive me if I don’t pay blind respect at the feet of the almighty film critic-god of Roger Ebert. Some of us like to think for ourselves, not follow the whims of a man who’s head gets bigger and bigger as the years go along, and who seems to think the highly derivative mediocre “Golden Compass” deserved four stars. Have you seen Star Trek? Read his Star Trek review – it completely misses the point of not only the movie, but the entire franchise. Example – he nitpicks about details clearly explained in the plot – such as why they’re able to beam aboard a ship in warp space but not onto a platform a couple of miles above a planet’s surface; but in the movie, this is explained easily and simply. Why does Ebert pull shit like this?. It seems if he doesn’t like the idea of a movie, there’s no way it will ever have a chance with him, and I’m sorry, but that’s a very, very, VERY bad quality to have as a film crtiic. You need to be ready to accept EVERYTHING – no matter how ludicrous, as long asi t makes relative sense within its own world. And when you make a childish mistake like confusing “decepticons” and “deceptibots,” it’s just sad.

  3. A) It is never clearly setup that the Decepticons were chasing the parents. We get them at a cafe in Paris, then a new scene with other characters (I cannot recall if it was military or Shia and co.), then a 20 second shot of the parents running through an alley, but never actually scooped up or taken into the air or a car or something. That is not a clear setup, that’s not even a setup. That is something happening and you being thrown into the middle of it, which is fine, if that lasts long enough to make heads or tails out of, which a 20 second shot, by virtue of how short it is cannot at all do. Bay does not connect all the dots, to be sure, but he also doesn’t even put any on the paper.

    B) I am glad you could see the difference between all the Transformers, though how you could is beyond me! Yay! In a movie of 30+ Transformers I could make out 4 of them. Bumblebee is bright yellow, easily identifiable from afar (think Mace Windu’s purple lightsaber tactic). Prime had a distinctive head and body shape, and the two motorcycle chick robots were also color corindated (pink and purple, if I am remembering properly) and larger then the RC Truck Transformer (the one that humps Megan’s leg) but smaller than all the rest. So again, yay! I could make out 4 of them out of 30+. On a test, that’s a big old failed!

    C) Yes, the style of action is a matter of preference, although you are bashing Ebert for his, and as long as you could tell what was going on everything is all good, true too. But Bay never used a master-wide shot to setup his geography and spatial relations between his characters, make following the action (most of it) irraiting and headache inducing.

    D) I did indeed care. I hate watching a movie that is truly horrid (a good, fun B-movie is something else) and never want a movie to be so because I know that it takes many, many more people than the big names to make it. But, by saying that Ebert, myself, and the others (be it my friends who hated it as well, or the other critics who hated it) simply did not care to try to follow the action is first off, a blanket statment, which you hate, remember? B) Makes you sound like a complete douche (I am not saying you are you, just that that statement makes you sound like one). If I watch Domino (Tony Scott film) and said that the action was too hard to follow, does it fit the same bill as here, where I, and most everyone else (it failed critically and commercially) are simply not caring to follow it? Or is it because (in that and this case) that they are too editied and too close on the action? In my opinion, both films are, and I do not think it can be argued very well that the action is not in extreme close-up (most of, not all of).

    E) Yes, to say the movie had no plot, might be wrong, but I would like to argue that they simply mean, things happen, then are explained. Then more things happened, and then that’s explained, etc. That’s not really so much of a plot as just lots of explainations. Everything at college was unneccesary, but there’s a good 30-40 minutes of all that, making it more than a subplot in my opinion (subplot= saying I love you thing. Something at which the movie setups and plays slightly during whole film). The college thing had absolutely nothing to do with the pyramid/ Matrix stuff. And if it did, it got lost with most everything else. There was also no need for the Galloway/Get these robot aliens off Earth plot because it barely is played up. Why thrown in all these plots (sub or otherwise) and not do anything with them? Cut them out, save a good amount out time, and then there might be a real coherencey to the plot. Which is scattershot, as I said earlier, because of the reasons I just listed (I could go on).

    F) Yes, simply because I don’t where the “terminator” came from, does not make it incomprehensible, what makes it that way is why bother having it at all. She did nothing for the plot and had the worst special effects in the film (I hope we can agree on that too). I am not asking for that robot’s full life story, but more a point. “But she was there to make Megan’s character jealous?” BS! Her character is simply bipolar. First, she’s trying to break up with him, then she strips in front of his house to be kissed by him, then when she catches Sam kissed the “fembot” (as you called it)she’s all angry, then they are snuggling up next to a fire (in the Jordan sequence) acting like nothing ever happened, then when the small transformer humped her leg, she said as bitchy as she could (something like) “At least he’s loyal”. Then she says “I love you”. She’s bipolar!

    G) I asked the “lazy and stupid” question because you called Ebert lazy and heavily implied he was stupid (whether on purpose or not, I have no way of knowing), and was curious if I too were lazy because I could not follow the action or tell who most of the robots were.

    H) I too work at a movie theater, and the response from the average theater goer has indeed been positive, but just because the masses like it, does not mean it’s legitimately good or well made.

    I) I am not some blind follower of Ebert’s on a crusade, I disagree (most recently on Star Trek) with him about as much as I agree with him; I have not read all his reviews so I cannot definitely say it is 50/50. But simply because he disagrees with you is no reason to call him lazy, or act as childish as you did. You can like this movie, with all it’s dog humping and leg humping and blackface racism as much as you want, but to get so volatile at someone who disagrees with you is asinine, which is why I feel karma needs to kick you. I see no reason to have gotten so angry at him.

    J) I was hoping to point out to you the flaws that Ebert and myself (plus I have three other friends who have since seen it, and they did not like it either) do in fact exist, and why. I feel I failed. I will not be able to see what part of being so close to the action you can only see metal fists is appealing, or why Turturro (who is amazing on Monk and in other movies) acting like an escaped mental patient with acute paranoia is funny, but you do, and I don’t. Have a good life.

  4. A) In my memory it was explicity clear that the parents were being kidnapped. The Decepticons had just spoken about finding a way to get to Sam, or something like that. First dot. The parents running. Second dot. Being dropped of in the middle of a battle. Third dot. Not rocket science. I’m seeing it again tomorrow, so I’ll be able to elaborate then. Again, just because you’re not able to connect the dots, doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

    B) “A bit ole failed!” Well, once again, this seems to be your fault. And plus, I msyelf don’t know the name of every single Transformer. I’m able to tell which Transformer is which during a fight, but for the most part, the extraneous ones like the ones that dig up Megatron from the bottom of the sea, or the appliance ones in the beginning in Sam’s house, are just there to look cool and die so that the main bad guys don’t have to. Is it great filmmaking? Hell no, I never said it was. It’s pretty simple. It’s Michael Bay. I don’t know why anyone would expect anything else. My point is – does it even matter that you can’t name every single one the Transformers? You know all the important ones, and if you can’t tell the difference between Starscream and Megatron – well, hell, their feud and alliance was throughout the whole damn movie, and if you actually take the time to, you know, LOOK at their faces, you’ll see a clear design difference. In fights, they have a basic shape difference, and if you follow them, again, LOOKING, paying attention, it’s difficult to lose track.

    C) “Irritating and headache inducing.” Once again, your own opinion. I don’t think we necessarily need a set-up shot for each and every action scene. The visceral approach Bay takes, IMO, makes the action unpredictable, and dares you to follow along with it. It really isn’t that challenging. and once again, Ebert’s review merely stated these as facts. He hates Transformers. Before he even walked into the theatre. Of course he won’t bother to tell the difference or actually watch the action – he can’t even tell the difference between Decepticons and Deceptibots!!! People like Ebert criticize these movies for robbing us of our child-like wonder because they’re nothing like our old toys that we pulled apart, slowly, in extremely blocky simple shapes…and hell, I don’t know where Ebert was when I was a kid, but what I did was play with it and imagine what would it be like if it actually existed in real life. Because kids, you know, have an imagination, and they think. And when they see a real, life-size Optimus Prime, their jaws drop in wonder, because it’s REAL. It’s a false idea that these movies steal child-like wonder. In my opinion they enhance it.

    D) Failed critically, but hey, let’s check out the box office returns. It’s made $125 Million since Wednesday. Hear that? A mid-week release. It made the second highest opening day on record, aside from Dark Knight, which got a weekend release. People actually like this movie. Occasionally, critics can miss the point on some movies. It is possible, you know. Most everyone I know loved it (and I work at a movie theatre), and the only criticism I’ve really heard of it is that it didn’t have enough Megan Fox. And by the way, how would you define extreme close-up? Working at my theatre, I’ve been able to observe specific scenes many times, and I was watching the Optimus versus Megatron and Starscream forest fight scene, one of the best scenes of the movie, in IMAX. It was amazing, and I was remembering our conversation, and closely observing the camera work. There are a couple of beautiful shots, the cuts really aren’t that frequent (maybe four to five seconds), the “extreme close-ups”, which I would assume would be a face or head and shoulders shot, are few and far between, and there are a couple of slow motion shots were you see the full body of the Transformers, battling it out, towering over the trees, a ludicrous and gorgeous shot at the same time. I’m sorry, but this is NOT awful camera work. Is it too quick for some people? Apparently. But in my experience, critics are always the quickest to criticze action. One of the big things they missed about the Matrix trilogy was all the symbolism and well-thought out planning that went into all the fight sequences. I’m not saying Bay put symbolism; he’s not that sly; but what I’m saying is the action in this movie is pretty easy to follow. I know now why I was able to follwo it the first time – because of how it’s arranged.

    E). Yeah, it’s scattershot. It’s Michael Bay. You go to these movies for entertainment, not for analyzing their plot structure. The plot is coherent enough and has about two acts. Besides, the college thing is needed there because it gives Sam something of an arc. He doesn’t really want to be around the Autobots anymmore – he’s trying to develop his own identity. When he’s pulled back into it, almost against his will, he eventually comes to realize it’s his destiny, as the ghosts of the Primes from the dead tell him oh-so-heavy-handedly at the end of the movie. It’s not entirely unnecessary. And plus, it’s entertaining! It gives the parents greater dimensions, puts them in funny situations, and hey, Sam’s dad even gets a little bit of an arc. The bond between Sam and his parents is strengthened in this movie. There’s more to this movies than you would at first believe. And I really liked that they had not said “I love you” yet. You don’t often see that with teenage relationships, and I’m glad they pulled back on that and let it unfold, if a bit predictably, at the end. It was almost sweet. Since when is the hot girl not boning the guy (they’re both of age, so it’s not like Bay was concerned about political correctness) and they’re not constantly telling each other they love each other? Once more, more to this plot than you would think.

    F) The “Terminator” lady, I actually thought was really cool. The special effects were decent. What exactly was the worst about them? She was simply a Decepticon who was after Sam. As for why exactly she went about it that way, who the heck cares? All you need to know is she’s a bad guy, and a hot girl. Simple? Yes. Childish? Yes. But a pretty damn cool special effect and yes, she was there to kind of make Megan Fox jealous (plot-wise). And in the end, nobody ever accused Megan Fox of being reasonable. She’s just hot, that’s why she’s in the movie.

    G) I didn’t say Ebert was stupid, just lazy. And yes, I think you might have been lazy too. I’m sorry, but I find it very hard to believe that I somehow just made up all this stuff about the movie in my head – was it just my imagination that I was able to follow the action and the story so well? I sincerely believe not. It’s simple, straightforward, easy to follow, slam bang action, and it honestly baffles me that so many people find it incoherent, so I’m convinced it’s because they don’t appreciate action like it sould be.

    H) I didn’t say that the masses decide that – in fact, I sometimes hate the masses. But I’ve gotta say that my point in giving this as an example is this: OBVIOUSLY the plot and action aren’t impossible to follow – because millions of people are following it!!! So what exactly did the critics miss here? And don’t tell me audiences can’t tell the difference between dumb action and good action. Wolverine kinda flopped, 12 Rounds was a dud, so were all three Punisher movies…..I could go on. Even the easy-as-pie shoot ’em up, which was generally well received by critics but looked back on as sub-par, audiences smelled a turd and didn’t really turn out in the expected droves.

    I) I was angry because I felt he so terribly missed the point, and so obviously missed the point, in his entire review (similar to the way he did on Star Trek), and obviously failed on several levels to give an honest and true review, and yet people were praising him for it, in hundreds of comments, most of whom had never even seen the movie! Plus, it bugs me that he only responds to comments that he agrees with – he never answers questions with answers – just “Ebert”-isms. So yes, it was heated and slightly uncalled for, but your sanctimonious talk about karma and me getting kicked in the ass was a bit over the top. And I didn’t enjoy the two black-talking robots in this movie, at all. They were stupid, and pointless, and gaaaah – so annoying. Worse than Jazz in the first movie. I shook my head when they came onscreen, and was like, “Really, really, Michael Bay?” His ego is fun to watch onscreen too. “Hey, you know what cool internet nerds at Princeton put on their walls? Bad Boys II Posters!!” But yeah, I agree with you the racist twin cars were annoying as hell. And the humping was hilarious. Dogs do hump, you know. Especially small ones. I’ve owned dachshunds in my family for like eight years. I’ve seen other dogs do it. Even if they’re not horny or not in heat, sometimes they’ll just do it compulsorily. It happens, and it, yes, bawdily funny, but if you can’t have some bawdy humor in a Michael Bay movie, what’s left in this world? Besides, the pug was cute.

    J)Watch the movie again – there are hardly as many extreme close-ups as you think. Watching the Optimus Prime in the Forest Scene in IMAX, the little scene with millions of metal balls forming a two-dimensional transformer, the scene where Megatron gatheres the information from Sam’s brain before Optimus and Bumblebee save the day – all of these are full of shots with at least the entire upper body of one bot onscreen – many times two. Come on, watch it again, I dare you. But if you don’t believe me and want to go on telling people about the stupid close-up action, the “unnecessary” college section of the movie, the “poor” fem-bot special effects, or worrying that you don’t know the name of that Blender Transformer so Michal Bay must be a horrible, evil director, well then you go right ahead.

  5. Note:

    I saw it again earlier today, and I can confirm what happens with Sam’s parents. We see Soundwave above the Earth, locating the parents by their cell phone’s signal. Then the parents are in Paris, and the mother is telling the “heavy breather” – clearly a mechanical, Decepticon-like sound – on the phone that his perverted heavy breathing won’t work. Chaos in Paris, the parents running, and then we see a Decepticon, full view, mind you – complete with ominous music and glowing red eyes, step in front of them and his claw zooming towards the camera. If this isn’t clear that the Decepticons nabbed the parents, I don’t know what is. Then, when Megatron tells his minions later to “spring the trap,” the parents are dropped off near Sam, and we realize the full extent of their plan. Explain to me how even one part of this is questionable or confusing.

  6. Oh yeah, and not being able to tell the difference between all the bad guys isn’t an automatic disqualification of quality. You say you could only tell apart 4 bots out of 30+? Hm, I could tell apart about 1, maybe two, out of several hundred thousand, stormtroopers, clones, and battle droids, in Star Wars. Sometimes, it’s okay to put in bad guys who are just there to be shot at and shoot at the heroes.

  7. Bobby Says:

    I will see it again, probably next week, if just to better clarify why I think it failed. Bay is not some evil director, I like most of his films (this one, Bad Boys 2, and Pearl Harbor being the ones I do not), so it’s not like I begrudge him or went in to it wanting it to suck. Dogs hump, sure do. I own a Shi Tzu and a Cockerspaniel and they go at sometimes, but I am saying it has no business in this movie. I do not think there was any real arc for any of the characters, including Sam. Finally, the stromtroopers and battle droids are a terrible example because they aren’t meant to be actual characters, and intended to look the same. The Transformers are meant to look different and have personalities, unlike those you named. Because (imo) the Transformers looked the same and I could not tell them apart (mostly) and I was suppose to, that fails. Again, you bring up the box office take of this movie, which does not at all indicate whether this was a good movie or not. For the rest of my problems with it/ recant to your replies, they shall wait until I see it again.

  8. Why does it have no business in this movie? The first scene with the dogs humping was to break the awkward tension between Sam and his father. The second, to show why the dogs weren’t obliterated by the Kitchen Decepticons attack. As for the R/C car humping, it’s just silly, and shows Wheelie showing a bit of Stockholm Syndrome. It doesn’t matter that robots can’t technically be attracted to humans, or that robots shouldn’t hump because they probably don’t actually hump to reproduce, it’s just there as a comedic relief moment, and taken for that, it was funny, and it allowed for the funny like of Mikaela saying to Sam, “At least he’s loyal.” She was teasing him like gf’s tease their bf’s, and it was believable. Besides, all the humping scenes together occupy less than one minute of a two and a half hour film, so if this isn’t nitpicking, I don’t know what is.

    The stormtroopers and battle droids may not have been the best examples, sure, but they were meant to show how “red shirts” are a common device in cinema. The Decepticons who blaze into Egypt to help Megatron in the last ten minutes of the movie are red shirts, as they are never named. The kitchen appliance Decepticons are only meant for some cool visual effects and to show that the shard of the Allspark is still active and still works. And not all the robots are meant to be characters. I will agree with you that more of them should have been treated as such, such as Jolt, Arcee, Sideswipe, Ratchet, and Ironhide. If the twins were eliminated from the script it would have allowed much more time for this. For the most part, the robots in the main battles are easy to tell apart and you do know their names, and even if in some you don’t know all the bots’ names (like in Shanghai), you do know who’s bad and who’s good, which is serviceably important to the plot. Is it great filmmaking? By no means. But it works for the plot and doesn’t detract too much from his enjoyment. The scene in Shanghai was a helluva opener, especially with Optimus Prime being unveiled as he plummets from a helicopter in the sky. Plus, we didn’t need to know the Autobot with the knife’s name to know that when he sliced through that car, from front to back, it was extremely cool. “Damn, I’m good,” is right, Sideswipe. (You can tell him apart from others, for example, by the fact that he has wheels instead of feet.) Ironhide and Ratchet were set up in the last movie (Ironhide is a black GMC truck and Ratchet is a yellow one), and in battles you can pretty easily tell where they reside. Another example of red shirt Decepticons: when Megatron calls in allies to help him defeat Optimus in the forest. None of their names are revealed, because it’s not important: they’re there merely to make the fight harder for Optimus, and so he has someone to kill besides Megatron.

    And I think it’s good that you’re seeing it again. I think you might find the scenes work better than you think. The first time I saw it I was confused by all the accusations against the movie for being unable to tell the bots apart, because I was able to do so relatively easily. (Example: the scene where Bumblebee and Optimus rescue Sam from Megatron’s interrogation holds up really well upon second viewing; it’s full of slo-mo cuts and great camera angles, like one where Optimus does a flip up into the air and fires his gun at Megatron, or when we watch a bullet in slo-mo burst out of Optimus’s gun and go hurtling into Megatron’s chest, causing him to crash out the window and fall to the ground, barely missing a speeding away Bumblebee.)

    I’ll be curious to hear what you think after you’ve watched it again. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  9. Bobby Says:

    I just got home from watching it again with some friends, and I am sorry to say, I still hated it. Some of the action scenes were easier to follow, but not all of them, and I still hate the humor in it; I found the humor to be nothing more than a distraction with no buildup or punchline. Leo (the roommate) is ot needed, and the Terminator chick really pissed me off still, and yes, I think her CGI effects of the tongue and tail looked bad (whereas I did think most of the rest of the movie had great CGI/ special effects). The subplots led nowhere, which still angered me, but I would like to concede to you the kidnapping sequnce, it made MUCH more sense and was easy to tell what was going during it, i guess I remembered wrong.

    That’s about the only thing that changed. All my other complaints hold, for me. I saw it with two friends and my brother, they hated it as well. So now, I have 6 friends who thought it was good to excellent and 10 who hated it, just so you know.

    Sidenote: Saw Public Enemies and agreed with you, almost entirely.

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