Sunday, July 12, 2009

1st July 09 - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Back in 2007 Michael Bay played with some big robots and let us watch him for a couple of hours. He created a film Cinemafool described as “bloody enjoyable cheese” and the trailers for the sequel were tantalising awesome. Can Bay serve up some more silly cheese? Or will he leave it out of the tupperware and end up with something hard and a bit of a funny colour?

Well, a bit of both really. Visually this still ticks the right boxes, the effects even more stunning and set pieces even more spectacular. The old cast are back, Shia with his weirdly massive nostrils, Megan Fox pouting like she’s never pouted before and occasionally undressing for no real reason, and the best feature of the first – John Turturro – returning with his usual odd-ball comedy spark. The size and number of bots have increased, including a cool tiger type thing, a monstrous wheeled giant and a super huge bot with a giant sucking mouth. It looks like they’ve been perfecting their CGI too, as the transformers are more expressive, and more interactive with their surroundings than before.

Such combinations of better effects and the same cast gives humour and wows in places, particularly the forest battle scene. But Transformers suffers from sequelitis, in that the pulling power of the first – seeing beloved toys come to life and blow shit up – no longer applies. We’ve been impressed with life-like robots transforming into planes mid-air. What else you got? Unfortunately it’s pretty much more of the same, but for a little bit longer.

Bay’s biggest problem – thinking we enjoy watching battle scenes as much as he does – hampers this as much as it did in the first film. Bay’s hard-on for helicopters and epic fights can never be matched by Joe-Public. It’s like he’s asked us to go for a run with him. Bay’s sprinting, arms flapping wildly, shouting “weeeeee” all the way. At first we – the audience – run along with him, finding it quite entertaining. But after five minutes Bay is still at it with the same level of enthusiasm, whereas we’ve stopped, out of breath and a little embarrassed to be seen near him. “Ok, that’s enough now” we’ll shout after him, but he won’t hear us. Not for another ten minutes or so. This is what the final battle scene is like – we’re tired and a little bit annoyed while Bay is running round going “weeeeee!”

There were elements of a run with Bay in the first film, but the excitement from the novelty of watching Transformers helped to make it bearable. Unfortunately this time around it’s lost its spark, leaving some enjoyment but also some tiresome battles. The plot is nonsensical as expected, clunkily edited together with some casual stereotyping. You’ll watch most of it with a smile on your face, but there’s a point as you go past the two hour mark where that smile wanes. Disappointing given the awesomeness of the trailers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is still a great summer blockbuster, but could have been so much more. It gets a recommended CF0, but no more.

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