June 24, 2009

Warning – * SPOILERS *

RECAP – Transformers 2007

When Michael Bay’s Transformers first came out back in 2007, I had a bad feeling it was not going to stay true to the idea and concept of the 80’s cartoon series and the 1986 cartoon movie, and I was right. I knew Hollywood sometimes changes and adapts everything to please the younger generation and general audiences who never were hardcore fans of any series. Plus it’s also about selling tickets not just to hardcore fans but also to the average movie goer who doesn’t understand anything about the past shows it’s based on.

I’ve never really been a big fan of Michael Bay and his movies. Mainly because he uses his same style over and over again and never attempts to change it and try something new. Most directors always do the same type of movie and same style but most always also stay true to the material and respect that, Bay does not.

Michael likes to use a lot of slow motion shots, big explosions, car chases, and circular camera shots, and he likes to put extremely great looking attractive women in the background as extras. He does this in all of his moves. It’s very tiresome, old and predictable for any movie. He just likes to focus on all the action and CGI shots, instead of the story line, characters and plot. It’s shallow movie making at it’s finest.

Now, not all of his movies are bad. I enjoyed The Rock with Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery. Bay’s best movie is probably The Island which is very underrated as far as action movies go, and it’s the most thought provoking of any of his movies.

Bay has said some things in interviews that discouraged me a lot. He said things like, ” Listen, I make my own movie, I don’t have someone tell me what to do. I’ve always been inspired by Steven (Spielberg). I was not a Transformers fan before I signed on to this movie.” ..Bay also said, “When Steven called me a year and a half ago, he said I want you to direct Transformers, It’s a story about a boy who buys his first car. To me that was a great hook. I hung up and said thank you, I’m not doing that stupid, silly toy movie.” And after the first live action Transformer movie opened, it showed Bay did not respect the material as he clearly stated. He is a very arrogant director.

After seeing Bay’s first Transformers movie a couple of times, I had immediately noticed that is was not going to be a serious heart felt intelligent movie. Bay put sexual jokes and innuendos in the movie and lame brain comedy that defused the plot. The comedy was weak and wasn’t really funny. The extreme close up shots of the Transformers fighting was hard to see clearly and sometimes blurry and too fast to watch. Not to mention the movie dragged on at 144 minutes and could’ve been cut shorter. Needless to say I hated this movie.

As a movie buff I can forgive and move on to a new installment of any movie series even if I didn’t like the last one. I go into every movie with excitement and high hopes that the next part will be better than the last. So the question remained. Did Michael Bay change or learn his lesson from the last Transformers movie he made? Not likely.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:

The plot is not complex and why would it be for a movie like this that’s only concerned with big explosions and neat CGI effects and visuals. This time, we see Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) going off to college while trying to stay in touch with his girlfriend Mikaela. Problem is Sam has a small shard piece from the Allspark that’s driving him crazy and mentally insane with strange symbols that he can’t get out of his head.. The Allspark was that giant metallic cube that held the key to the Transformers existence from the last movie. Sam was put in charge of guarding it with his life.

The shard’s symbols lead to an ancient pyramid in Egypt. It also tells a story of an old Transformer race known as the Fallen who holds secrets to yet another powerful device, the Matrix of Leadership. The Fallen basically wants to rule the earth by using the sun’s energy. And of course the Decepticons want to know everything that’s in Sam’s mind so they can find the pyramid as well.

After all is said and done. It ends with a battle in Egypt involving the military, Sam, Mikaela, the rest of the Autobots and Decepticons, and Devastator who is a combination of six construction vehicles.

We see some new transformers this time and longer battles, but so many great looking Transformers are wasted in the movie and I mean that literally. We see new robots like Soundwave who just floats in space and informs the Decepticons of Sam’s location. Arcee the pink motorcycle who is also a team with two other fellow female motorcycles, Sideways who gets no chance within the first 5 minutes of the movie, his death was spoiled in the tv spots. And finally the Twins, skids and Mudflap, who have this ghetto like attitude and are always clowning around with each other like young kids.

The CGI and the action is way better than the first movie. The CGI visuals are sharper and I was able to follow the action a lot easier this time. It was entertaining to see Optimus Prime chop off heads and limbs and kick major butt. I liked the fight scene in the forrest and the opening sequence in Shanghai China was exciting.

But in the end, Bay doesn’t really bring anything new or fresh to the table here except the longer fight scenes. The movie doesn’t slow down at all. Bay likes to throw in some causal comedy in between the action and some of it was funny. But some of it was the same old usual perverted sexual material, like Wheelie humping Mikaela’s leg. There’s also a so called ‘pretender’ Transformer disguised as a pretty blonde in college. She’s only there to tempt Sam with sex and than kill him, as far as I know. Her character was useless. The movie doesn’t explain that much.

I’m kind of on the fence here about Revenge of the Fallen. It’s an entertaining summer popcorn ride that doesn’t require you to think. But see, most of Hollywood and Michael Bay don’t understand that no matter what movie you make, nothing beats having a solid intelligent movie with great dialog and characters you care about, like say The Dark Knight.

It takes more than huge big explosions and neat CGI effects to make any movie great. The Story and characters and plot has to always come first before the visuals. Bay does the opposite, he mainly focuses on the CGI and that’s why we have two very long Transformers movies. Bay and ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) knows that it costs a lot of money and time to add these effects so they figure they will get their moneys worth.

Ok here’s the deal, if you loved the first Transformers movie, than chances are you’ll like this one. If your looking for a movie with real depth and story, you’ll be disappointed. Revenge of the Fallen is merely pure action and eye candy, like the last one. It’s a decent action flick but it needs more.

Transformers 3 is already planned for Summer 2012 and there’s no doubt this one will make a lot of money at the box office, but I think it’s time for a new director who respects and understands the Transformers material.

Zav’s reviews