'Transformers' over the top in all the wrong ways - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Entertainment

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'Transformers' over the top in all the wrong ways

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Posted: Monday, June 29, 2009 11:00 pm

A major criticism of the first Transformers was that there was less action than there was humor. So for Revenge of the Fallen, director Michael Bay took both the action and the humor to the extremes.

Now it's bigger, louder and stupider than anyone ever thought possible.

Two years after the first battle for Earth, Megatron is resurrected and seeks revenge against the Autobots. This somehow has something to do with Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBoeuf, Eagle Eye) again, who sees symbols in his head that can lead the Decepticons to a thing that will grant them eternal life but in the process would destroy the sun or something.

Actually the plot doesn't really matter, as it was obviously low on the list of priorities. Topping that list are ostentatious special effects second only to Bay's ego.


The thing we liked about the movie:

1. Bumblebee was, once again, the only Transformer who had any sort of memorable characteristics. They're not particularly good characteristics, but he gets the dubious honor of being the only robot we could recognize in a lineup.


Things we disliked about the movie:

1. The action is completely nonsensical. The fight scenes are filmed with the questionable tactic of placing inanimate objects between the camera and the combat, like trees, giant ruins or Shia LeBeouf. When you can see glimpses of the actual action, it doesn't matter, because all the robots look the same. They are all gigantic, overly elaborate smears of clanking gears and bullets with no apparent dimensions or directions. Characters literally appear out of nowhere, or are in two places at the same time.

2. The humor is, at best, so over the top it makes Jar Jar Binks look like Charlie Chaplin or, at worst, so completely racist and offensive that the screenwriters are apologizing and feel ashamed at how the project actually turned out. Wait, that worst case scenario is what is actually happening. It must have been a fire sale at the stereotype store: we've got crazy parents, overly sexual Latinos and college professors, deli-running Jews with maternal issues, undisciplined soldiers who strut around like they're playing a video game, and French mimes who apparently only eat snails. And that's not to mention Skids and Mudflap, the two transformers with ape-like statures and gold teeth. They speak some kind of ghetto slang, are constantly bickering and completely worthless to the plot. Oh yeah, and they're illiterate. By way of apology for the accurate criticism that those are derogatory racial stereotypes, screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek) have said that they can't justify those characters, and people have the right to be offended. Bay, on the other hand, has brushed off the accusations by blaming the voice actors.

3. Speaking of Bay, the guy couldn't direct his way out of a big-budgeted paper bag. He is a military fetishist, but can't possibly use simple terminology correctly or depict characters who could possibly be mistaken for combat veterans. He directs with the sensibilities of a chauvinistic, sex-obsessed pre-teen boy, where all problems in life are solved by having a cool car and meeting the hottest chicks. And he treats his audience like we're idiots. Apparently people aren't going to notice that the Smithsonian Museum does not suddenly open up into Arizona, or that the Great Pyramids are anywhere near an ocean, or that the light repeatedly changes from sunset to mid-day, or the terrain from red and rocky to white and sandy, or that at least 10 times the shadow of the camera was visible. It's sloppy, it's lazy, it's ignorant and it's offensive.


Even though it got a PG-13 rating, this movie has been targeted towards kids. But it's chock full of risque, bawdy humor, chauvinism and brutally unnecessary violence. So don't take your kids. In fact, don't take anyone.

Better yet, don't go at all.

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