Last night, I went to see a late night showing of the new movie "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen".
Now, after much thought on the way home, as I lay in bed this morning, while I took a shower, and as I ate breakfast, I offer up my review of this long-awaited Transformers sequel.
First off, I have some disclaimers . . .
1. I went into the movie theater wanting to love this movie, and so, admittedly, this review is coming from a Transformer fan/enthusiast (and not some casual moviegoer fulfilling a simple curiosity over cars that turn into robots).
2. When I do a review, I try to base it solely on the film's actual merits and to take the film for what it is (as opposed to what I might want it to be). I make the strongest consideration for what I feel the film-makers were going for, as opposed to making comparisons to other films and/or prequels.
3. I might suggest that you see this movie for yourself before reading my review. (There are no plot spoilers here.) Otherwise, if you do read this, take my review with a grain of salt and decide for yourself how you feel about it. All are welcome to agree and/or disagree with my assessment.
So, here goes . . .
Yes, I sat in the movie theater with the best of hopes that I would love "Revenge of the Fallen". As it turns out, I do love it, but unfortunately, not as much as I had hoped.
First, the good news . . .
In terms of special effects and masterful visual art, director Michael Bay and friends have clearly outdone themselves. Colossal meteors falling from the sky, panoramic fighting scenes on rugged Egyptian landscapes, slick and modern machines traveling at ungodly speeds, fighting scenes jam-packed with action and swift movement . . . I could go on and on. The cinematography is first rate--every shot framing each dazzling focal point with skill and a visual artist's discerning eye.
Color is used to great effect as well. Bright and shiny primary colors for the Autobots, and darker, dirtier, metallic hues for the largely camouflaged Decepticons. The entire film has such a vivid look to it. It's all quite beautiful.
Then, there is the sound. On a technical level, this film should receive recognition for the sounds it employs. The fighting sequences are made more jarring and more spectacular with these piercing and otherworldly sounds--making the scenes so much more potent and effective.
Just about all of the main characters from the first film have returned for this second instalment. I'm quite happy about this since I think they made for a pretty solid ensemble cast.
Shia Lebouf puts in a more beffuddled and dorky performance this time around and does so to great effect. One scene in particular had me rolling.
There was a good bit of humor in this film that helped balance out all of the gloom and doom. I can appreciate it when a film doesn't try to take itself too seriously. This movie has some very funny moments.
This sequel has also not diminished my love for Optimus Prime. He's one of my favorite leaders and heros in films. He does not disappoint in this sequel. (I hold a high fondness for trucks. Always have.)
Finally, I actually really liked that the Decepticons took most of center stage this time around. We get to see the sheer scope and volume of what they are capable of--the wrath with which they hone their particular brand of selfish evil. They are quite a resourceful and scary little batch of villains.
So now, the not so good news.
I think I can some up most of what I did not like about this film in one sentence . . .
This film lacks depth. (Cringing while I typed this.)
With the presence of huge fighting scenes and all out war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, there was the absence of substantive character and plot development. I found myself trying to latch onto some sort of emotional handle on this thrill ride but could not find one. The chemistry between Shia and Megan Fox left much to be desired. No friendships and bonds were neither strengthened nor dissolved. It all felt a little empty. (For example, I really loved the bond between Shia's character "Sam" and Bumblebee. A man's car has always rivaled dogs as his best friend. There was very little interaction between them.)
Now, most people would dismiss a movie like Transformers and say that it's not exactly the kind of film that Oscar-voters would salivate over (although it should clearly be in the running for all of the technical awards). This latest instalment which favors more of a formulaic, action-driven model would justify such a dismissal; however, it doesn't have to be this way.
With themes of compassion, friendship, transformation, humanity, good triumphant over evil, and love, I feel that these Transformer films are capable of so much more depth. These are the kinds of elements that can transform a film from being a regular summer blockbuster into a timeless classic. These are the kinds of qualities that help a viewer personally relate to a film. These Transformer movies could be on the level of brilliant epic sagas like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and even the latest Batman films. Sadly, this sequel does not elevate the Transformer franchise to such a lofty status.
(Incidentally, there is a new addition of Autobots in the film who are "twins" as it were. While they had a couple of funny moments, they just seemed odd and out of place. A comparison to Jar Jar Binks comes to mind, but that would be too harsh. They were not so much annoying as they were unnecessary. I wouldn't be sad if they disappeared in the next film.)
In closing, I have to say that all is not lost. I still strongly recommend seeing this movie in theaters. The visual work alone is worth seeing on the big screen. It's all fantastically, mind-bogglingly amazing! (I plan on seeing it again in an IMAX theater.)
It's still 2 and a half hours of non-stop thrills, fun, and action-packed Autobot magic. Bumblebee is still adorable. Megan Fox is still ridiculously GORGEOUS, and thank the almighty powers that be . . . .
. . . . rest assured . . . .
. . . . Optimus Prime is still a motherfucking badass!!
(Pardon the French.)
Ah, depth, huh? Figures. Two hours is not enough time to pack in action fight scenes and character development. I guess. That sucks Sam and Bumblebee don't bond. I was expecting that. The super team of Sam and BB. :-(
But I can't wait to see this. It's usually me waiting on you to see a movie so we can talk about it. Now, it's the other way around. We'll talk soon....
So I wait with suppressed impatience for some movies to open here in the Nashville area. Today, I went with my Mom to see the new movie "The Soloist" that opens in US theaters nationwide this weekend. Here's the preview . . . [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5GvsB3NfD0] I enjoyed this movie tremendously. In fact, I think any musician in particular would enjoy this film. My second favorite instrument happens to be the cello, and there's plenty of its gorgeous resonance to enjoy in this film. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx both do outstanding work in it. In an artistic sense, this movie is sonically and visually beautiful, but I have to say that I was a little confused as to its intent. It seemed as if it was torn between being social commentary for homelessness, being a character study of a brilliant musician, or being a film about friendship. What I often find when there's too much being said is that very little winds up being understood. Perhaps if a more distinct and singular intent was pursued, this would have been a more solid film, but since this film is based on true life, perhaps the truth was just as conflicted and complicated to begin with. In any case, this film is worth seeing just for the pure artfulness of it all. The music, cinematography, and acting are truly first-rate. Now, I'd like to show previews of movies I hope to see in the near future. First off, I admit to really really really wanting to see what will probably be this summer's biggest blockbuster film: Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (!!!) Ahhh Yeah!! I am a very dorky Transformer fan. It's the coolest movie franchise EVER!!!! Here's the newest preview that was just released: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmgbbGJW6ZE] I can't wait!!!! I have a lovely little collection of Transformer toys that I have yet to brag/blog about. This is coming soon. Needless to say, I am itching for a little bit of revenge. Finally, this last film that I want to mention is currently enjoying a limited release in select US cities. It's not here in Nashville right now, but I sure as heck hope it gets here. It's rottentomatoe rating is currently at 87% percent and rising. This is unusually high for any film, let alone a foreign film about two little Korean girls . . . Here is the preview for a little film called "Treeless Mountain": [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9ermzhKx54] The reviews for this one are off the charts. It paints a heartbreaking picture of child abandonment and resilience. I HAVE TO SEE THIS FILM!! These movies are on my mind. I'd like to watch more films in theaters this year, but hopefully, only the good ones. We'll see. -gordo
Ever since I was little, dragons have been a fantastical part of my daydreams. Giant reptilian creatures gliding and battling in the air above me and, if I was extra creative that day, me riding upon their backs. When the first How To Train Your Dragon movie was announced, I found myself super excited by the trailers. I even read the first book to prepare for the movie, even though I was most likely fifteen at the time. Although the films do not really follow the plotline in Cressida Cowell’s books, the imaginative world of Berk brought in audiences with the tale of Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless.
Any sequel trying to follow up fantastic originals are often up to much criteria. Fans do not want to be disappointed and the film company most likely will have a lot of weight on their back. However, How To Train Your Dragon 2 lived up to its expectations as we follow our older heroes on a quest to bring down a dragon warlord.