TFormers reader Michael Ford
got a chance to see the new Transformers movie over in the UK and was nice enough to send in his thoughts about the movie. It should be noted that this review does contain some SPOILERS
At first I didn't get Michael Bay’s style of movie making. Now I do – like the face of Optimus Prime's ILM model, they actually prove multi-layered. First you see the face, then you see the segments, then you see the machinery below those segments. The same can be said of Revenge of the Fallen. During the first viewing, you see the story and the action as a fast-paced adrenaline rush with almost pornographic shots of the vehicles themselves – it seems like it was made for those with short attention spans. Another viewing reveals the layers. You see the storyline and the action that supports it. The sometimes childish jokes provide a contrast to the suffering the warriors go through in battle – characters you know and love (yes, even the baddies) surviving serious injuries – and enhance the power of the battles. It shows that these millions of years old giants have learned that whatever they are going through now, there may be something worse to come in the next few seconds or maybe in the next few years. The terrible toll of this war has brought out such discipline in most of the warriors that an individual’s suffering is nothing to the whole. You see that the horrors of war before that day have hardened their sparks – they may believe in their hopes and dreams, but overall mourning for the dead has became almost pointless compared to the civilizations’ ongoing suffering.
This is only magnified in the new movie. The Autobots, now two years after the original movie was set, are hunters reduced to little more than a smart tool by the civilization they were hoping would be their home. Scenes like the Autobots returning to a military base and heading into a hanger, not to converse or to enjoy themselves but to sit in waiting almost on hold, show how their lives and previous struggles are turning into a memory as they are seen as both a useful tool and a potential threat.
Sam, our hero from the last movie is now heading out to college. Going away long enough for his mom to demand he comes home on holidays, you see almost a reflection of the Autobots in his father. He has put so much hope and love into his son’s life that the very action of showing that love might be a sign of weakness, it may even be counterproductive. Having lived through his father’s previous experience with Transformers and subsequent life in an asylum, he is unsure how to deal with emotion. Through his actions, he portrays a very damaged person who is lucky to have found a woman like his wife and a son that truly loves and cares for him.
Michaela has become a mechanic. Now some may see that as a stupid move – I mean the old stereotype that pretty girls must be makeup counter gals or beauty salon chicks instead of mechanics or scientists is ingrained into Hollywood reviewers. Critics may have been hoping to deride Mr. Bay for making her something shallow like a nail salon attendant, but he wisely provided a career doing the one thing that she showed both a knowledge of and a passion for in the first movie. She also managed to get her father work in the workshop, and this former jailbird is keeping himself on the straight and narrow not to let his daughter down. Scenes like the one where she handles the little Brooklyn accented blue-boiling attitude-filled Wheelie show not only that she is smart but also tough. Exposed to what a phone bot could do to an "unbreakable cage" in the first movie, she not only threatens him but actually causes him harm.
How does the movie pace itself? Like all Bay movies, it acts like a roller coaster. First there is a slow 10-minute build as the aforementioned human-Autobot alliance called NEST heads out to what is billed as a toxic leak in Singapore followed by quite a big battle with more than one Decepticon, who seem to have more moves than Justin Timberlake. A lot happens in the film but time seems to fly by. There also are mellow moments as we reconnect emotionally with Sam, his family, Micheala and the Autobots. We see the setup of the Decepticons seeking their fallen commander. Then like a good roller coaster, it gets faster – there is a real worldwide adventure feel to this movie which really gives a sense of the size of the threat of the Decepticons.
Some parents may have issues with the language of the movie, but it is a movie aimed at teens to adults so I would recommend that if you are worried about language try and watch the movie first to see if you find it suitable for your child. The humor is also quite tongue-in-cheek but rather rude, so if you have issues with sexual humor then try seeing it first to decide. All it takes is a little common sense.
There are enough nods to the original series to keep so-called Geewanners happy in a "Where’s Waldo" type of Easter egg hunt. There are some scenes that could easily have been left out of the movie without harming the story, but in all honesty the movie is only strengthened by their presence. If you like fun movies that don't require a lot of thought to enjoy, you will like this film. Then again – like all Bay movies – there are the aforementioned layers that fans and non-fans could spend weeks analyzing.