Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Transformers: The Worst Movie of the Summer

The good news: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen doesn't totally suck. The F/X department went all out on the look of the battling alien robots, the Decepticons (the baddies) and the Autobots (them's the good guys); they even brought in some new characters. Megatron - voiced by the great Hugo Weaving (Mr. Smith of The Matrix trilogy) - gets more screen time. And director Michael Bay knows how to put together an amazing spectacle of shit blowing up. He's like a kid who's been given the keys to a toy store, allowing imagination to run wild with ecstasy.

The bad news: Revenge of the Fallen wasn't very good, either. The charm that Shia LeBouf had in the first movie as the bumbling award teenager, Sam, is absent from the picture; along with the comic timing of Sam's parents (the 'family discussion' about Sam supposedly beating off in the first Transformers movie would do the writers of American Pie proud). That feeling in sharing Bay's excitement and kid-like, starry eyed wonder in the first blockbuster hit has turned his marvelous creations into a head-pummeling madhouse of horrors where things are constantly being destroyed for the sake of destroying. Even John Tuturro, back portraying his role as Simmons, who took the lines that were given and turned them into sheer delight and near-perfect comic timing, looks tired and embarrassed to be in this mess.

Revenge of the Fallen sends Sam Witwicky to college, departed from his hottie girlfriend, Mikaela (Megan Fox) and his Chevy Camero/Autobot guardian, Bumblebee, while Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots forge a alliance with the U.S. military to hunt down the remaining Decepticons. The 'plot' - you really can't call this horseshit of a script from Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who penned May's stellar reboot of Star Trek - takes Sam, Mikaela, and the Autobots to Egypt to stop the Decepticons from finding an ancient device that can power another ancient device that can destroy the sun and harvest the lifeforce of the alien robots. You buying any of this crap? Didn't think so.

To paraphrase Peter Travers, movie critic of Rolling Stone Magazine - "Revenge of the Fallen has everything. Everything loud, dumb, violent, racist, and misogynistic that director Michael Bay can think of puking up onscreen." The action sequences serve little purpose but to leave a trail of destruction an becomes stale and unoriginal. Bay's movies aren't know for its solid acting chops, which I have come to accept, but this time 'round was so hollow and emotionless that it makes bay's other disasters - the insulting Pearl Harbor and the appalling Armageddon - look like they have been robbed by members of the Academy.

Fox was sizzling in the first Transformers flick, but was never cheapened to porn star status. Her, and Isabelle Lucas - a college student with the hots for Sam and a wicked tongue - could have been replaced by adult film stars Jenaveve Jolie and Jenna Haze and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

And the shameless, ignorant black stereotypes portrayed in Autobot newbies Skids and Mudflap (get this - both are illiterate, both love talkin' jive and street, and one of them have a golden front tooth) almost made me hang my head in embarrassment of the spectacle that was taking place in front of the screen. You can hear Bay shouting to the cast and crew: "Hey, more explosions! Megan, show a little more ass, toots! Shia, Josh [Dumael], and Tyrese [Gibson], less dialogue, more yelling you're lines! Megan, what did I tell you? Less talky, more jiggling your tits! And where the fuck are the explosions I asked for?! This is what my audience wants to see!"

There's still a long ways to go before the Razzies, but I won't be surprised if Revenge of the Fallen leads in all major categories in the end. It's Michael Bay at his worst, only this time dragging Spielberg (executive producer) and his kick-ass alien robots with him thought the grime and cow shit.

Ok, I take it back. Transformers 2 really did suck.

* 1/2 stars out of ****

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