Review: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – The IMAX Experience”

June 24, 2009 at 11:40 am 2 comments

Every filmmaker worth his or her salt will, at some point in their career, work on a project that will test every ability and skill they’ve learned.  It would be their ‘magnum opus’, if you will. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen would quite possibly be Michael Bay’s magnum opus.  Say what you will about the director and his films, and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but it’s obvious he has great technical skill in the action movie genre.  Not very many filmmakers can throw so much on the screen and have it be entertaining to the public.  This new Transformers is, quite literally, everything the first movie was, and more.  Much, much more.  There are more Autobots, more Decepticons, some Constructicons tossed in for good measure.  It’s louder, flashier, with more hot women, more robots, and more bass pumping through the speakers you’d think your chest cavity is going to crumble into dust.

I’ll go ahead and say it right now.  Michael Bay is a master filmmaker.  That’s right.  MASTER.  FUCKING.  FILMMAKER. There are very few directors working in the industry right now that could orchestrate such chaos on the screen and in the volumes that’s on display in this movie.  There’s so much action, and so many “HOLY-FUCKING-SHIT!” moments it literally made my head spin.  There were plenty of times where I wanted to grab the head of whoever was sitting in front of me, shake it violently, and scream, “Did you see that?!  DID YOU FUCKING SEE THAT?!”  From the opening sequence where we’re introduced to new Autobots (including a bad-ass re-introduction of Autobot hero Optimus Prime), to an incredibly staged battle in the forest, to the finale set in the deserts of Egypt, Revenge of the Fallen will please any fans of the genre, the toys, and the director.  And if you’re going to see this movie, chances are you’re already a fan of at least two of those things.

No, this script isn’t perfect.  To use one of Michael Bay’s own sayings (directed toward the first Bad Boys flick), there are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through them.  That, however, isn’t the point.  A few of the ‘professional’ movie critics have complained about the lack of story.  Did they really think that was what they were going to get?  Honestly?  It’s Michael Bay.  You’re going to pay to see robots destroy each other up on a very large screen, so story isn’t so much of a concern to average movie-goers. The plot is a little more dense and confusing compared to the first, but it does take the time to guide you by the hand in explaining it before smashing you in the face with another ridiculously awesome battle.

To summarize: the Autobots (the good robots) are working in secret with the U.S. Military to defend against Decepticon (the bad robots) incursions on Earth.  However, a Decepticon that predates all of the Transformers, a powerful being known as The Fallen, has ordered a resurrected Megatron to find an ancient machine that will tip the scales in the civil war between the Autobots and the Decepticons.  Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeof), hero of the original movie, has a piece of the puzzle, a map of sorts that can lead directly to this machine.

The story does get a little more convoluted than that, especially when Bay and the wizards at ILM start throwing in Decepticons-turned-Autobots, mammoth Constructicons, a magic key, supporting characters that don’t really do anything, and hot girls that aren’t even real girls (but still hot).

If there is anything I’d complain about in this movie, it’s that we, surprisingly, don’t spend enough time with the Autobots, especially the newer ones.  Aside from a couple of the machines, we aren’t given a sense of their personalities, something that I thought was lacking in the first movie, and that is unfortunately a flaw carried over to this one.  And the soldiers played by Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson are almost like afterthoughts.  It’s also difficult, at times, to watch the action when all you see is a mess of metal being flung around all over the place.  Another thing: as nice as it is to look at Megan Fox, she isn’t really given much to do here, aside from move the story forward at one point.  Her acting is bland and not very fun to watch at all, but it was a genius casting decision to pair her up with Shia LeBouf from the beginning.  He keeps things lighthearted, but can bring a serious undertone to the scenes that need it.  She may get all the attention, but he’s the real star of the movie.

The IMAX Experience

I had the pleasure of watching this at midnight in a packed IMAX theatre in San Francisco.  What I love about event movies like this is the energy of the crowd; there were all sorts of people in attendance: teens, adults, men, women.  But, for those two and a half hours, we were all 10-year-old boys playing in the backyard with our action figures, and loving every minute of it.  Granted, most of my good will toward this flick is based on the environment I saw it in, that nevertheless improved my attitude of it.  The speakers blasting in your ear, the eight-story-tall IMAX screen towering above you, the crowd cheering and clapping at every action scene; it all really makes the experience that much better.

If there’s an IMAX screen playing this near you, watch it there.  If you’re not watching the 70mm print of this, don’t bother going at all. Yes, I’m serious. Normally, I’m very picky about what movies I watch in IMAX, because I feel cheated every time a movie plays in IMAX that doesn’t have anything shot in 70mm (ahem… Star Trek).  This movie has maybe less than 10 minutes worth of IMAX material, but each second of it is gorgeous.  I honestly felt like I was going to fall through the screen. The battle in the forest, and finally the epic scope of the pyramids in Egypt look fantastic on an IMAX screen.  This movie is also a sound designer’s wet dream; it’d be criminal if this didn’t win the Oscar for Sound Design, this movie just sounds and feels epic (I know that word gets used a lot, but it’s true here).

You need to see this in the largest screens possible with the best sound systems available, and you’ll find those in IMAX.  I know, the tickets are pricey, and I feel the pain when paying for them (I’m a grad student, so I really can’t afford anything), but you’d honestly be cheating your self if you didn’t pony up the extra six or whatever dollars for an IMAX ticket.

Just like how I have a hard time imagining the follow-up to be better than The Dark Knight, I can’t see a third Transformers movie being better than this.  Just as good?  Sure.  But better?  That’s a tall order.  That being said, this truly is Michael Bay’s best work.  If you enjoyed the first flick, you’ll love this one; it may just make you dig around in the attic (or basement) and find some of your childhood Transformers toys and smash them together.  It’s more of everything you liked, and in this case, more is better.

10/10

OK, so according to Hasbro, there’s a connection between this movie and Stephen Sommer’s upcoming G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.  Apparently, I missed it.  Either it was cut from this flick, or there was so much going on I didn’t take notice.  Well, guess I’ll have to wait until the other movie is released this August to see how this crossover pans out.

(images from Yahoo!)

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cello  |  June 24, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    totally! This review and movie was on point. All i hear is people btiching about racist robots and the running time was too long and bitch bitch moan moan. This is about explosions, giant robots, and ‘holy shit’ moments. Well written article!

    Reply

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