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TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009) *1/2 movie review by COOP

Posted on June 26th, 2009
Posted on June 26th, 2009

Films featuring giant fighting robots are never intended as high art. Designated as summer blockbusters, these big-budgeted crowd pleasers emphasize huge explosions, excellent special effects, big actors and PG to PG-13 ratings… something the whole family can enjoy, right?

But what happens when a directing/producing team is so out of touch with the real world that they throw good sense to the wind and let inappropriate, even downright offensive elements creep into what was supposed to be a decent film for both kids and adults? You get “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

As Sam (Shia LaBeouf) prepares to depart for college, the Autobots led by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) team up with the U.S. military to hunt down and destroy rogue Decepticons. When Sam accidently becomes exposed to a piece of an alien artifact left over from his previous adventure, it uploads important information into his brain that could give the Decepticons a decisive edge. Sam and his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) go on the run with the Autobots as the Decepticons resurrect Megatron to help hunt them down. Meanwhile, the most powerful Decepticon, The Fallen, returns to Earth to settle a score with Optimus and use the information in Sam’s head to destroy Earth once in for all.

Sounds harmless enough, but apparently Director Michael Bay hasn’t learned from the mistakes of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg after they allowed their nearsightedness and lack of social conscience poison their own sequels to the point of ruining their franchises (not surprising that Spielberg is an Executive Producer on this one).

Obscene humor in a “Transformers” movie? What competent director or producer in their right mind would allow such inappropriate dreck? I was expecting a few vulgar remarks and gratuitous potty humor for the kiddies like in the first film, but some of the curses and visual gags went way beyond the vulgar. If you don’t let your kids watch “South Park,” then you might find yourself shocked at what the MPAA let the creators of “Transformers 2” get away with. I don’t mind that kind of humor in the right setting, but in a “Transformers” movie? Unfortunately that’s not even the worst of Michael Bay’s transgressions in this film…

Mudflap and Skids. Remember these names because you will soon hear them spoken in the same sentence as “racial stereotypes” and “Jar Jar Binks” for the rest of your life. These two Autobot heroes have big ears, buck teeth (one of them gold), claim to be illiterate, have foul mouths, constantly fight each other and they talk in such a way that reminds me of how African Americans used to be portrayed in old Bugs Bunny cartoons. These “Twins” are about as politically correct as Al Jolson in 1930 singing “Mammy” in blackface. They strip ALL of the dignity out of this picture. It’s so embarrassing, the media has started dubbing these two the “Little Black Sambots.” I expect Bay, Spielberg and Co. to get a series of angry letters from various civil rights organizations about that one.

The acting is over the top as always. I still like LaBeouf as an unassuming, yet clever and heroic leading man. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson reprise their roles, still with no development. John Turturro returns as more than comic relief this time, but that job is replaced by Sam’s idiotic college roommate, Leo (Ramon Rodriguez) in a pitifully useless role. The distracting Megan Fox and her story arc with LaBeouf belonged in a different movie since it strayed so far from the main plot. The worst performance comes from Julie White, playing Sam’s stressed-out mother who acts like an utter moron after foolishly eating a bag of marijuana brownies and then goes on a rampage of gross sexual remarks and nasty language.

So what IS good about this movie? The usual: Far above-par special effects, excellent production design, cool (for the most part) robots and two spectacular action sequences worthy of the admission price. At 150 minutes running-time, there’s several cubic tons of dead weight dragging the film down, but if you must see it and aren’t concerned about the aforementioned offenses, I won’t try to dissuade you. Also, before you tell me to “lighten up” about all of these offensive elements, might I remind you of how similar elements played a part in nearly (some would say completely) sinking the “Star Wars” franchise. We may have enjoyed ourselves watching it at the time, but hindsight is 20/20.

One final parting shot…

Earlier this year, Michael Bay made snide and very public remarks about how the creators of “Terminator Salvation” ripped him off by putting giant, Transformer-like robots in their movie. By means of poetic justice, I truly hope everyone takes Bay to task for putting a Terminator rip-off Decepticon in “Transformers 2.” His arrogant, off-the-cuff remarks have become something of a joke in the media over the past several years, but this one was downright hypocritical. Like M. Night Shyamalan, I’ve defended Bay for his style despite his lack of substance or class, but this time he’s gone too far. Sorry, Bay. You’re on your own.

1 and ½ out of 5 stars

Trailer below…

-Coop

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