Thursday, June 25, 2009

Review: 'Transformers 2'


To commemorate the tenth anniversary of his classic film Do The Right Thing, Spike Lee did an interview with Entertainment Weekly where the filmmaker denied the existence of our so-called post-racial America that many feel was minted on the day Barack Obama became president. And after watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I am inclined to agree.

The movie keeps nearly all of the characters from the first movie - even though none of them really mattered all that much - then offers us two new protagonist robots named Mudflap and Skids. These characters, also billed as "the twins," are a pair of jive-talking androids with ridiculously huge lips, despite the fact that very few of the movie's robotic characters have mouths. They also have wide eyes and pull an Amos and Andy, firing off such brilliant nuggets of comedy like "I'm gonna get up in that ass!" and "I hate readin!'"

How many people did it take to tell such a racist joke? It at least required the efforts of director Michael Bay; writers Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman; a whole fleet of producers which includes Steven Spielberg; and gobs of CGI and special effects artists. Then to top it off, you have Caucasian voice actor and former Mr. Show alum Tom Kenny (a.k.a. Spongebob Squarepants) who provided the voice-work for both of these characters.

I wonder if there was a point in production where at least one of the white folks involved with the production had the good sense or consideration to ask, 'Isn't this a bit irresponsible?'

But no, and I'm not too sure that anyone involved with the production asked other important questions either, like, 'Is it okay that Megan Fox can't act?' or 'Does a movie about giant robots really need to be two hours and 40 minutes long?"

Speaking of the movie's running time, you'll really feel the seconds crawl as the movie ekes from one poorly executed set piece to the next. Michael Bay shoves his camera in a ridiculous number of angles and the worst part is that none of them are beautiful or effective. Long outed as a director who lacks both confidence in his work and competence Bay's films have been getting increasingly worse since Armageddon. Sadly, it's starting to look like he's never going to pull up from his steep, downward trajectory.

The movie's only saving graces are two scenes where beloved Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) fights off a horde of evil Decepticons near the beginning and ending of the film. Between these two thrilling moments, there's a 'plot' wherein the evil robots are planning to destroy our sun for some reason or another. Sadly, the story is so flimsy and pieced together that John Turturro was asked to recount what was happening just before his character found himself staring directly at a robot's testicles.

So yeah, you've got those two cool Optimus scenes for old Transformers fans like myself, but they are only slight bookends in a long and joyless cinematic library of crap. I recommend that you keep your fingers crossed that someone will upload both of these scenes onto YouTube very soon so you won't have trouble yourself the way that I did.


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