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TRANSFORMERS 2: MULTI-ANGLE REVIEW

Surprise, surprise!!! When it comes to movies so loved by the masses and so hated by critics, like Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, it really seems like it throws reviewers into a divisive whirlwind. Most critics decide to have fun ripping out its guts and putting the innards on display for the world to see, since their opinion on a film like this will not even bite a chewable chunk out of the box office receipts. Some critics simply get depressed that they even have to comment on the film. Others just give in to the crushing pressure of the sad truth: that the entire planet thinks this is “good.” There are even some, possibly, that actually enjoyed the movie without prefacing their delight with “for what it was…” So, to try something new, I am going to attempt a review from 4 different angles.

(***There are NO SPOILERS or plot descriptions either…but if you really, really want those things, then here you have it: Robots Fight, Shia LaBeouf and a hot chick run a lot.***)

ANGLE #1: NORMAL

I wholeheartedly enjoy some Michael Bay movies, I even love one or two as superb action escapism. Transformers 2, however, is barely a movie and is honestly beneath even Mr. Bay. What we have here is a serious, mind-numbing, failure to communicate. This film breaks the singular cardinal rule of all truly great escapist films, the one detail needed to rise it above just being a “series of events” to “generic fun”…a through line! We need some semblance of a cohesive understandable story arc for the characters, no matter how cliché or simple, to keep some emotional attachment to what is happening. Michael Bay’s opus might be the most confusing big-budget mess ever put to celluloid, couple that with the fact that all the robots look almost exactly the same and all the geography during action sequences are like metallic scramble eggs and there is NOTHING to hang on to.

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Armageddon, Bad Boys 2, The Rock, these are art-films compared to Transformers 2, if not just because they have a somewhat competently written story. They might have bland plots, and Hollywood-ized characters, but there is meat to grab onto as you watch them, you actually care what’s going to happen next instead of just assuming that something is going to happen next because the credits haven’t rolled yet. Remember all the negative hoopla about Death Race when it was released? Well that film, much like the original film it was based on (and Mr. Bay’s early films) is pure action exploitation. I fully admit to loving Death Race. Was it a good film? No, not really. Did it have a comprehensible story line and action geography? YES!!!It was one hell of a good time, due in no small part to the fact that the audience could grab onto the simple plight of Jason Statham’s character to take them through the action. It was clear who was good, who was evil, and where it was all going. Escapist films don’t need to re-invent the thematic wheel; they just need to use it. I don’t expect Taxi Driver when I buy a ticket for Bad Boys 2, Commando, or Death Race, I just expect to know what is going on. I just defended a Paul W.S. Anderson film. Deal with it.

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Every human character in Revenge of the Fallen literally talks like they are in a Micro Machines commercial. Rain Wilson’s cameo is the only human-speed dialogue delivered through out the run time. Wait, I take that back, Tyrese Gibson had the honor of delivering this earth shatteringly bland comic-relief-nugget during a pause in the narrative:

“I don’t like that guy…he’s an asshole.” – Tyrese Gibson, Actor, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

That quote is pretty much the amount of effort that went into all writing on this film; it feels like it was written off the cuff as the actors stood in front of the cameras looking at tennis balls. It does sound like a derivative criticism to say there is no acting in a movie like this…but there was almost 0% thespian craft! That isn’t a slight against the cast, it’s the fact that they must have been directed to deliver all dialogue as if the characters were on speed pills. The scene where Shia arrives in his college dorm is edited and delivered so fast that it’s hard to believe it’s not a satire. It needs to be seen to be believed, but it’s still not worth the ticket price.

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John Turturro, once again lowering himself, is at least somewhat comprehensible as the wacky former government employee. That still doesn’t help the fact that one of our most gifted and underrated actors alive today will be remembered by a generation of kids as “that funny guy from the transforming robots movie.” Which brings out my very real concern for an entire generation of kids that think this thing, Revenge of the Fallen, is what a movie is suppose to be. There is no doubt that there is amazing special effects here, used so much and so naturally that the word desensitization doesn’t even suffice. Confusing, meth-addict, explosion-porn like this will rob an entire generation of their patience to watch and enjoy all the beauty, wonder, craft, and greatness in the history of cinema. If they continue to suck at the tit of movies like Transformers 2 as they grow they will be unable to tolerate films like Apocalypse Now, 12 Angry Men, Blade Runner, A Fistful of Dollars, Papillon, Schindler’s List, or The Great Escape and so on and so forth. They won’t even be able to tolerate old action, exploitation, or escapist movies. All those films are nothing but boring, unwatchable, intellectual-tests to anyone raised thinking the definition of cinema is incomprehensible CGI filled nightmares that placate the masses and prove their worth with money instead of art.

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There are personal friends of mine, 30 year-olds, that have admitted that they have even been corrupted by the special effects and lightning pacing of today’s cinema, to the point that “old stuff” just puts them to sleep. They are in their 30’s, imagine someone still impressionable growing up in this cinematic climate. We live in an age where an actor like Shia LaBeouf is the “IT-Boy.” Think of how much things have changed since, say, Dustin Hoffman was the “IT-Boy.” Hoffman was young and new in Hollywood, but he was making masterpieces, SUCCESSFUL classics, like Marathon Man, Straw Dogs, The Graduate, Papillon, Midnight Cowboy etc. Now I didn’t live through the 70’s, nor did I even exist in the 70’s, but I got to ask: What were they doing so right back then that we are doing so wrong right now?

ANGLE #2: CRITIC “BLURBS”
(Written by me, out of context. In fact, no context exists)

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“Bay’s newest opus is akin to a 2.5 hour long car crash. One that has a plot. I think.”

Revenge of the Fallen plays like punch to the nose. It starts out of nowhere, confusion strikes, then the rest of your time is spent trying to stop the bleeding.”

“Like watching someone slowly separate your legs from your body using scrap metal.”

“I eagerly await the porn version, Transporners: Rear-end of the Ballin, which will sadly have more believable dialogue and a tighter plot.”

“…and to think that in 2009, so many years later, our modern day Ed Wood, Bay, is not only gratuitously funded, but heavily successful.”

“I’m getting old.”

“Not since Claude Rains in 1933, has someone, so convincingly played the invisible man in a leading role. Well done Mr. LaBeouf. Blandness achieved.”

“Excuse me Mr. Bay, what just happened? Was that a movie?”

“So fleeting and hollow that it should be called Revenge of the Forgotten.”

“Why waste your $8? Stay home and watch soft-corn porn and a demolition derby on cable.”

“The time it must have taken to animate each little movement of every little part of each complex robotic character for a film that fails on such a deep level as this one is enough to push any legitimate film fan to suicide.”

“The cinematic equivalent of white noise.”

“…a multi-million dollar travesty for the video game generation, and they will love it.”

“So big, so epic, so enormous, so empty, so obvious, Michael Bay is no idiot. Congratulations on this summer’s best practical joke.”

“I fell asleep. Twice.”

ANGLE #3: SARCASM

Is this all you got Mr. Bay?!?! That’s it? Severe disappointment is the only word that truly describes Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. After the boring first movie, which was filled with exposition, humans, and moments of pause, I was hoping for a cinematic correction by Bay. Did he not learn his lesson, even though the first one was a hit?

Once again we have another movie filled with human characters talking, hogging screen time, giving exposition, and generally making the audience fall asleep. Michael Bay’s intense artistic ego even goes so far as to make the robots themselves spout off crucial plot heavy dialogue in a time wasting effort that takes away from the fighting. I know what you are saying…what do you want? Blood from a rock? Yeah! I want blood from a rock, A TRANSFORMING ROCK!!! I want two hours of unbridled hellish war with not a human in sight. I want galaxy-sized robots, foaming motor oil at the mouth, fighting each other with boxing gloves made of black holes. I want a 900 billion dollar monument to chaos that looks like anthropomorphic robotic-volcanoes erupting satanic-jizm backwards into the earth’s core. I want an orgy or pure kinetic hell flowing over battlefields filled with mechanical nightmares. I want to see robotic-nazi-sympathizing-puma-shaped-demons and Michael Bay himself jousting each other simultaneously at light-speed in full renaissance regalia. I want no-dialogue, except for a series of digitized grunts that can’t be heard over the Linkin Park soundtrack that is intentionally peaking the theater’s speaker system. I want a plot that spans the timeline of infinity, yet fits into 2 hours. I want trillions of robotic minions, each with hundreds of thousands of moving parts, fighting wars on the surface of Alpha Centauri…all fully rendered in such extreme detail, in such a wide shot, that it simply all just looks like filmed fire.

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I want Michael Bay to go so overboard with Transformers 3: Universe Explosion, that the United Nations arrests him for crimes against humanity due to the gross waste of natural, financial, and human resources that they feel has directly contributed, via neglect, to the deaths-by-starvation of billions. Until then, however, it seems Bay is content making these boring, little art house films.

ANGLE #4: BITTER

[see "NORMAL" above]

Okay, that last angle was a cheat. Sorry, couldn’t help it. Thanks for reading!

Comments:

11 Responses to “Opinion In A Haystack: TRANSFORMERS 2 - Multi-Angle Review”

  1. Chuck Stone Says:

    Bob, this was great. You were right i did love it.

    the review, not the movie. And Transformers 3 already has a release date. July 1st 2011.

  2. Phill Says:

    A friend brought my girlfriend and I to see this opening night… even though it was free, it was the worst money I ever spent. I would have been more interested if Bay had given a 5 year old a collection of Transformers toys and just let the cameras role.

    Thankfully, my girlfriend started throwing up and we had to leave after the forest scene. She says it was something she ate, I suspect otherwise. I now believe that a merciful God exists, and I thank him every minute that has passed since I left the theater.

    Great review, spot on and hilarious. First time reader, I’ll be back. Hopefully it’ll be another crap movie, they just seem more fun to review haha

  3. pHitzy Says:

    Funny stuff.

    I can’t wait until a DVD rip of this hits the net, then I can mock it for free. There’s no way I’m paying €10 for this steaming pile.

  4. Opinioninahaystack Says:

    Chuck: Glad you dug it. Too bad TF3 wont be called Universe Explosion.

    Phill: Hilarious man! Hope your girlfriend is feeling better…yeah, you didn’t miss much.

    pHitzy: Your money would be better spent on Transformers toys. You’d have more fun.

  5. Jose Says:

    i think an 8 year old with all the toys from this movie could come up with a better story then Bay, and if that 8 year old had 280 million dollars to blow, maybe the movie would come out better.Someone needs to learn that if u give Bay that much money and say make me a summer blockbuster, no matter how much tradition and info he has to go off, he will DESTROY an amazing base for a sci-fi movie, i truely was sad to watch this movie, i almost wish i could freeze myself and come back 20 years from now and watch when a true director makes a remake of this pile of shit. then maybe i could forgive Bay, MAYBE

  6. Christian Says:

    I saw TF3 last night OMG!!! i will always love the transformers from the 80’s this guy has taken a story that A LOT of 30 somethings love and turned in to a painful glimpse into the real hollywood. where money and special F/X outweigh story. it reminds me of the joke that shulemocker turned the batman series into. PLEASE I BEG SOME ONE WHO GIVES A CRAP ABOUT THE TRANSFORMERS TAKE IT AWAY FROM MICHAEL BAY!!!!!!

    p.s. PLEASE save Indiana Jones too our favorite stories and Characters need to be preserved and not turned into corprate trash.

  7. hulk-lite Says:

    What I don’t get is why, every single time I read an article or a review about one of these Transformers movies, there’s always at least one person in the comments section that demands that their beloved franchise be taken away from the villainous, mustache-twirling, cartoon bad guy that is Michael Bay.

    They claim that this is a great sci-fi concept, a deep and involved story with lovable characters and epic adventures!

    … about space robots that turn into fucking cars.

    I watched the old animated Transformers movie on a whim when I was, like, 18. I grew up on the cartoons, them and GI Joe (another ridiculously stupid concept that should have died out after the mid-80s/early-90s).

    Yeah, the old movie. You remember it, right? The one where giant flying dinosaur robots tried to kill a planet-destroying god robot by biting it in the ass? The one where Weird Al and a bunch of garbage (literal) played a song about how wonderful it is to be an idiot?

    Jesus Christ. People, the real tragedy here is that my childhood was raped by the originals and now, as an adult, I am powerless to stop the continuation of this trend of gradually dumbing down American audiences.

    The real tragedy here is that Hollywood has been obsessed with mind-numbing, toyetic, blockbuster entertainment since the original Star Wars and you and I were forcibly raised on it because we didn’t know that there was anything better out there.

    It’s unfortunate, it really is, but I can at least understand when kids make the mistake of watching this shit and then debating its finer points. Face it: if you’re older than 18 and you paid to see this in theaters then you are wasting your life.

  8. Opinioninahaystack Says:

    Christian - I’m not disagreeing with you, but I gotta say (and this is something I should have put in the review) I was never a transformers fan. I don’t regard the original cartoon as anything special, in fact the original cartoon is basically tripe. My negative reaction to TF2 has nothing to do with what its based on.

    hulk - I like (possibly love) a few of Bay’s Flicks. See my comment above to CHRISTIAN about my transformers fandom…I agree with you…it was shit. Except for Weird Al, Dare to be Stupid rules.

  9. Alexis Says:

    I loved the movie. And I totally understood it. I admit it was difficult at times to tell who was an Autobot and who was a Decepticon but that’s my only complaint. I wasn’t bored for a single second. Actually it raised my heart rate. Seriously, it wasn’t until the credits started rolling that I even realized I was having palpitations. Oh and Shia Lebeouf’s acting? Superb.

  10. Jacob Hoffman Says:

    As entertaining as this all was I don’t feel it gives the credit that this film deserves.

    Just because a film doesn’t fit the box all other films come in doesn’t mean that a film is terrible.

    There is some dialogue that I do not feel was important especially near the end of the film. I also believe there was alot left out that was important to the plot. Having said that; both of these films suffered with cramming too much into too small a space.

    Two and a half hours might seem like a long time, but to reinvent this franchise, bring about likeable characters, a believable plotline (were aliens like these in existance) and include all their myths and legends into one cohesive story would take an act of God.

    Easily, four descent films could have been made in the time it took to create two over eager films such as these. I would like someone to try and make this series better while making it just as marketable.

    Until then I think I will be satisfied at this ambitious attempt at creating a world where The Transformers can truly exist.

    What the critics hate is that very few people agree with them at this point. Cinema is not just thespians spatting out shakespeare.

    The world now relies on shock value, high octane films with less to think about. We have always gone in cycles with this sort of stuff. There are countless films of different ages where the masses ate it up but if you took a fine toothed comb to the storyline you’d have a hard time believing it. Let’s see we have Godzilla, the Dracula films starring Christopher Lee, The Lost Boys just to name a few.

    Many of those films still hold a special place in the hearts of those that grew up with them. The same will be for the Transformers. All of them are or will be cult classics.

    I do not agree the world will lose its love for films like Schindler’s List, Rain Man or Shawshank Redemption but perhaps we are expecting a bit much from a film about giant intergalactic robots that change into cars and designed to entertain small children.

    If you go into Transformers to be entertained, curious, not expecting much out of the story and genuinely desiring a film with alot going on and very little to have to think about this will do it. That isn’t wrong even if it has all the nourishment of a snickers bar and a gallon of gatorade.

  11. Opinioninahaystack Says:

    Jacob, out of curiousity…how old are you?

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