Ceci n’est pas un ‘Transformers: Revenge of the EXPLOSIONS’ review

typed for your pleasure on 3 July 2009, at 1.22 am

Sdtrk: ‘A lot of drugs’ by Venetian snares

As is our wont, on Friday eves, my good friend Marika stops round, and we watch several hours’ worth of Quality Entrétainment — we’re currently tearing our way through the second series of Ashes to ashes and the second half of Kamen rider Hibiki, for example. Last Friday, however, when I was confirming our plans via text, Mari indicated that she wanted to go see the new Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen. I nearly threw up all over my phone, which would’ve been an entirely appropriate response.

Getting this out of the way: I’m not what you might call a Transformers ‘fan’. I watched the show fervently when I was younger, as most Children Of The Eighties did. I didn’t see the feature film in theatres, but I did rent it — wept when Optimus Prime died, thought Arcee was clang clang sexy — but that’s the lot, really. Although I can quote numerous lines from the film without a second thought. On the other hand, Liann, goshou’s wife, is a walking Transformers encyclopaedia. She’s still got the Laserdisc boxsets for the never-aired-in-the-States Transformers 2010 series, among other paraphernalia. When the first live-action Transformers (hereby shortened to TF) movie debuted, I refused to see it cos I think Michael Bay should be dancing the Tyburn Jig for his crimes against film, and Liann refused as she’s a hardcore TF purist. Everyone in our Algonquin End Table was curious as to what went on in the film, cos they sure as fuck weren’t going to pay to see it. (In the interest of full disclosure, neither did I; as I was broke, Mari paid for my ticket.)

So: TF:ROTF! Two and a half hours of Nothing, at an elevated volume. It was literally an endurance test for me. Where does one start with this… steaming pile of shit, to put it charitably? Well, for one, I absolutely hate the mecha designs; they look like walking scrapyards. I understand that Bay reasoned that as they didn’t come from Earth, they’d have forms that were unfamiliar and otherworldly, which actually makes complete sense. However, it is possible to design mecha that don’t resemble Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending a staircase’. And the thing is, when in robot mode, they all look the same. Maybe it’s just me, but during battle, I couldn’t tell who was duking it out with whom. Coupled with the awful redesigns of familiar characters and the ADHD editing style, the fight scenes were genuinely tiresome — as a rule, epic battle scenes shouldn’t make the viewer yawn or check their watch, which is what I did, several times.

And how ’bout that mecha, huh? How ’bout Mudflap and Skids, the Autobot ‘twins’ who were the worst CG stereotypes since Jar-Jar Binks? I mean, honestly, when you have one character sporting a gold buck tooth, and the other’s crapping on about ‘bustin’ caps’, you have to wonder why they didn’t just name them Amos and Andy, and be done with it? Why halfass it?
Besides the whole racist bullshit, they were literally exhausting to look at. Later during the sixth or seventh hour of the movie, Devastator inhales one of the twins — the red one, whatever the fuck his name was — into his gaping maw, which naturally had me cheering. So then, you can imagine my immense disappointment when that twin ripped his way out of Devastator through his face, while yelling ‘I’M IN YO FACE!!’ It actually hurt to watch.

The plot, if you can call it that, has been detailed elsewhere, so I’ll not rehash it here. Heh, like there’s anything to rehash. io9’s got a fab review that’s negligibly more charitable than this one, so give that a look when you’re done here. But the plot — o, the plot! It had holes you could easily drive an Autobot through, har har.
One of the subplots has our ‘hero’, Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LeDouche (accurately described by Mark Kermode as a ‘charisma vacuum’) is at college, having left both his girlfriend Mikaela, portrayed by Megan Fox (who’s someone’s idea of sex on legs, but not mine — sorry, PB Shelley. Also, clubbed thumb) and Bumblebee, played by a shitty Camaro (who apparently damaged his vocal cords in the previous movie and hasn’t had them repaired, due to a plot contrivance), back home. Despite Sam and Mikaela being miles apart, they’ve promised to be faithful to each other. Whilst on campus, Sam is constantly being pursued by some blonde with a spray-on tan, who’s aggressively wet in the knickers for him. Eventually she corners him in his dormroom and pins him to the bed, which is exactly when Mikaela shows up for a surprise visit. O SO WACKY Mikaela leaves in a huff, but the blonde lass reveals her true nature — she’s actually a Decepticon Gynoid! She chases Sam, his roommate, and Mikaela for a while until some Autobot comes out of nowhere and crushes her or shoots her or whatever; it’s inconsequential. And whoops! Was that a spoiler I just gave away, there? It sure was! And you should thank me; that’s one less reason for you to waste your time and money on TF:ROTF.
Now, you lot are undoubtedly thinking, ‘but Davecat, you love Gynoids! Surely that was one redeeming thing in the movie?’ Nope! For one, she looked like a Generic Blonde Maxim Reject when she was disguised as an Organik, and in Synthetik mode, she looked like a mashup of a Ray Harryhausen Medusa and… a Ray Harryhausen skeleton warrior. Needless to say, to me, she lacked sex appeal on not one, but two fronts, which is pretty impressive, if you think about it. Now consider; if the Decepticons can effectively disguise themselves as humans, don’t you think that’d be a more effective method of infiltration than transforming into planes and helicopters and the like? Bay didn’t even bother with an ill-conceived excuse as to why they didn’t — he just let it drop, hoping the audience wouldn’t bring it up again. Good job with that storytelling.

Another plot hole, you ask? Okay! Sam’s in his room above his parents, fiddling round with his hooded sweatshirt from the previous movie, when a shard of the cube from that movie falls out of the pocket. He picks it up, it gives him a shock, and he drops it. It then burns its way through the floor, and lands on the kitchen table, whereupon it sends out sparks that change all the small appliances in the room into Decepticons. Subsequently, they make their way upstairs, and proceed to arbitrarily attack Sleepy LaBeef, firing their guns, launching missiles, wielding saws, etc.
Right; so these are appliances made on Earth, correct? That being the case, I severely doubt Braun, or Oster, or KitchenAid, would manufacture toasters and microwaves and Cuisinarts that were fully-stocked with ammo. Otherwise, where did their weapons come from? O, Michael Bay’s arse? Okay, that… that actually makes sense.

When TF:ROTF wasn’t making me sigh with exasperation, it was boring me rigid, or offending me, or just plain enraging me. Too much crap onscreen at once, too much slo-mo, Linkin fucking park being part of the soundtrack, Generic Black Dude spouting Bay dialogue (‘That guy is an ASS HOLE’), Steven Spielberg, another director I hate, as executive producer, and a bad ratio of human characters to TF characters — cos if I’m seeing a film called Transformers, I’m really not there to see humans… all of these factors made for a truly appalling movie. I honestly can’t remember the last film I saw that I hated this much! Kudos, Michael Bay! ‘Kudos’, of course, being Greek for ‘I will grind your skull into pulp with my bare and twitching hands’.

After the movie let out, we got back round to mine, where I made Mari watch excerpts from the only Transformers film that matters:


What are they shooting at? Unicron’s behind them,
and they’re firing ahead

Some might accuse me of constantly wearing Nostalgia Goggles; those people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Every day, I pop in my pair of Nostalgia Contact Lenses. Honestly, I don’t get out of bed without them

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

At the bedside of Mistress English Language, holding her hand as she wastes away on August 7th, 2005

The mouth: Gateway to the head on June 23rd, 2007

8 have spoken to “Ceci n’est pas un ‘Transformers: Revenge of the EXPLOSIONS’ review”

  1. safetinspector writes:

    Having had no nostalgia to fall back on I found the animated feature to be boring and without merit other than cheese kitsch.
    The only thing remarkable about it, to me, was that it was filled with more death than I expected, and granted almost none of the deaths with anything resembling gravitas or pathos.

    Having seen the first Bayformers movie I’ll grant it was, on the whole, worse than the snooze-worthy cartoon. The cartoon wasn’t all that interesting to me, but the Bayformers movie was actually offensive to what passes for my intellect.
    I’m actually quite surprised you went to see the sequel in the theatre, Davecat, as I couldn’t imagine a universe in which you would find that movie acceptable on any level other than ‘useful adjunct to an effective mental torture regime for purposes of extracting information from or inducing Stockholm Syndrome in hostile prisoners’

    Lord help me, I almost typed “prehensile prisoners”

    The real tragedy? Both these movies were so fucking lucrative there will be at least one more theatrical sequel and then a series of straight-to-DVD movies and possibly a goddamn Christmas special.

  2. Davecat writes:

    Ohh, you don’t want your prisoners to be prehensile; that’s the last thing you want! Making tools, using shivs, etc. That’s trouble waiting to happen, mate.

    Well, like I said, Mari practically lassoed me, and dragged me to see it. I’m hoping ‘Moon‘ is as good as I think it’ll be, cos I’m dragging her to see that. 🙂

    Bay’s overall philosophy is: throw enough special effects, slo-mo, and EXPLOSIONS!!1! at the audience, and that will distract them from the awful story, and he was in overdrive for TF:ROTF. Well, I can’t be sure, as I’ve never sat through even a third of any of his other movies. Which is a goal of mine, much like how I’ve never heard an entire song by Marilyn Manson.
    But unlike the TF original cartoon series and feature film, I felt no attachment whatsoever to any of the Bayformer characters, human or TF. When Prime died in the animated movie, I was sad, as he was a father surrogate, like he was for a lot of youths growing up watching that show. When Prime died in TF:ROTF (O NOES ANOTHER SPOILER), my reaction was that of grand apathy. Which was immediately followed by wincing, as Shia LeDouche ran towards his body in slo-mo, screaming ‘PPRRRIIIIIMMEE’.

    Cardboard characters, horrible mecha designs (I seriously can’t think of any American production that had good mecha designs… at least, not off the top of my head), humour on par with an issue of Mad Magazine, and EXPLOSIONS!!1! And yet, you’re right; there more than likely will be a sequel, cos not only does Hollywood shit them out as a matter of course, but people who really should know better will see them. Don’t see Hollywood films; it just encourages them.

  3. Veach writes:

    You knew it was two thumbs down before you went and yet when will you have the opportunity to use the phrase, “Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending a staircase’” in a post again?

  4. Euchre writes:

    For me the 1st movie was over when I saw the Autobots ‘sneaking’ around the backyard. The 1st few seconds could be considered snicker comedy, but the remaining 10 MINUTES was embaressing brain rot.

  5. PBShelley writes:

    Ah, I am busted! Well, aside from her acting “capabilities” (which I haven’t witnessed) I only spotted Megan due to her (in at least a couple of photos) uncanny resemblance to how I imagine Lily to look like In Real Life. Mostly in her “For Real” and “Natural” shots, not the flash-bang promotional stuff, which does nothing for me at all. Not really a fan of “posing.”

    Of course, Lily is *perfect* (to all appearances, anyway) so she wouldn’t have the thumbs thing. Still I don’t think that’s a reason to diss-miss Megan as being unworthy of attention! I’m mostly invulnerable to Hollywood’s idea of beauty anyway, so this was an unusual sort of attraction for me which I thought worth commenting on. And so I did LOL

    It was a slow news day, what can I say? 😛

    But really, I think Lily’s story would be much better served as an animated series for reasons not worth going into here but I’m sure that you’re aware of 😉 Films don’t serve epic stories well, unless you’re Peter Jackson which I’m not.

    As for the Transformers movie… um, no thanks. When I was collecting comic books and their series came out in that form, it was only the beginning of my ugly divorce from what they were becoming, i.e. masses of frantic pencils that required a science degree or ADD to follow. Or, a degreed scientist with ADD. Ugh.

    Just as well; I needed an excuse to just stop.

    But yeah… “Hollywood Blockbusters” in general is a huge red flag that smacks my cheeks and screams AVOIDAVOIDAVOID! I think the last one I saw was… um… “War of the Worlds”? Unless that came out in another season which is entirely possible since I pay such little attention LOL

    Disconnected from reality much? O Yes! YAY!

    Regards and Best Wishes for a Swift Recovery,
    PBS, Lily, and Eden. (Pennie is in hiding from the Summer Blockbuster Hollywood-style Fourth of July “celebrations” going on around here. She is wiser than I am.)

  6. safetinspector writes:

    No American production with good mechas?

    Well, you must never have watched
    Robot Jox!
    A movie with a plot straight off the back of a one-on-one fighter videogame box.

    And, I know it isn’t big enough, but Robocop and that two-leg light mech from RoboCop were both pretty cool.

    And what about Sigourney Weaver’s exoskeleton forklift thingy from Aliens?

  7. Alice writes:

    Fuck that movie. And they DID all look the same. So Chris tells me, anyways. I didn’t watch it.

  8. Davecat writes:

    Veach –
    Valid point, valid point. Unless, of course, I write a post about Duchamp’s ‘Nude descending a staircase’, which I might do, just to spite you. 😉

    Euchre
    ‘For me the 1st movie was over when I saw the Autobots “sneaking” around the backyard.’
    Wait, what?? Why would… they… You know what? Forget it. Any explanation would just make it worse.

    BAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY *shakes fist at heavens*

    Mr Shelley, Ms Godwin, and Ms Gardner (and Pennie) –
    Bu.. but.. Lily (the Synthetik version) is perfect! Having her portrayed by Megan Fox is like substituting hamburger for… well, I don’t know what you like to eat. Food, arguably. But it’d be like substituting (insert your favourite food here) with (insert your least favourite food here). It’d be like replacing Kate Bush with Limp bizkit. See, there you go.

    I’d have to agree with your assessment of Lily’s tale being done in animated form; I always pictured my sordid biography being animated as well. I simply cannot conceive of any living actors being good enough, or ‘right’ enough, to take up the mantle. See how animu warps a person?? 😉

    A lot of the Transformers comics were indeed bog-roll-worthy, but ‘Transformers: Hearts of Steel‘ wasn’t that bad. It was a revisionist take, of course, but the story took place during America’s Industrial Revolution. It’s rather interesting. Rent it from your local liberry!

    And I’m sure Pennie would agree with Sockington’s assessment of the Fourth of July Explosionfest. 🙂

    SafeT
    RobotJox *starts laughing, and can’t stop*
    I remember the adverts: one of the characters was seen yelling ‘I’M GONNA KICK YOUR –‘, which then cut to an explosion. How fitting!

    Robocop’s ED-209 was pretty cool, I’ll give you that, but Ripley’s power loader was very… meh. And I hate that word, so it really means a lot here.
    However! You like power loaders? Have I got a power loader for you!

    That monstrosity would be the MBF-P02 Gundam Astray Red frame with Power Loader. The Gundam Astray Red frame (in the centre) stands about 18 metres by itself, so you can imagine how unspeakably enormous that power loader is. You want a power loader, why piss about?

    Alice –
    You have missed nothing. Nothing! Be thankful.
    Besides, with you and I being technosexuals, we can’t promote robot-on-robot violence. Make love, not war! 😉

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