Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Year Released: 2009
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, a bunch of polygons
Production Company: DreamWorks Entertainment
Release Date: June 24, 2009

“Transformers Revenge of the Fallen” appeals to the MTV generation in more one way. For the rest of us with longer attention spans, we’re bound to notice the lack of character development, the fundamental story telling flaws, and the visual and auditory assault on the senses that Michael Bay loves to stuff down our throats. Transformers as you might know is the love child of Japanese big robots with the Gung-Ho of Americanism chock full of child loving goodness, broadcast Saturday mornings to children all across North America. The problem with this premise used to be “how can we make giant robots LOOK cool?” Thankfully the geniuses at ILM made the mega monstrosities come to life in 5 storey fashion, but the story falls flatter than Shia LaBeouf’s personality. We have Michael Bay to thank for all this noise, and when I say Noise, I mean it. Sitting in a darkened theatre whilst giant mecha’s duel it out certainly can be grating – 2 and a 1/2 hours worth was plenty for me.

You can’t blame Steven Spielberg for this one, he has the executive producer rights, but his name, his image is nowhere seen close to or on this product at all. Like every other Michael Bay movie, the action is frenetic, choppy, and bright without any sort of shyness when it comes to being full bore on insane. And just like any other Bay-hem film, the action is tough to track; the enemies and good guys mix it up so frequently you can’t keep track of who is kicking whose butt. Other nuances, such as the average lifespan of a shot must be less a second, watching Sam (Shia LaBeouf’s) and Mikhela (Smoking Hot Megan Fox) say their respective good-byes to each other had so many tracking shots I nearly got motion sickness.

Bumblebee: missing a pair of converse high tops and a sweet kentucky waterfall

It’s simply mindless, it spends more time trying to build on non-existent back stories and continually going back to characters that don’t add to the overall plot, or contribute anything further than being racist stereotypes that Bay finds amusing. I’m of course talking about Skids and MudFlap, the Autobot twins annoying their way in each scene, showing up only to be more bothersome and irksome than actually adding to the storyline. Personally, the movie could have done without them. A,s I mentioned before, new characters are hastily introduced and just as quickly killed off without even any proper introductions. I wish I could have said the same about Sam’s parents, as their little escapade at Sam’s University was blown out of proportion and borderlines on fantasy of ‘what drugs can do to you’.

The one saving grace was and should always be the Transformers themselves, the stars of the show, who comfortably have more speaking lines than the last, and compared to the mindless banter of the humans is by far more welcome. Some approximated render times are far more fictitious in the age of Quad Core Computing, yet the finished product is something to awe. Especially worth watching in high definition television.

The Gundam happily crunched the racism-bots where they stood.

There’s been a lot of Michael Bay bashing over this movie, some I can understand, while others I’m little more lenient to dissuade. Mainly the naysayers that are advocating that he should stop making films altogether. Now, I’m a fair guy, and I like explosions, and The Rock was actually pretty good, even after a few viewings. People want him to stop because he’s inflicting more pain on the movie going-public than he should be. I for one think all that is absolute crap. Because, complain all you want, you have to admit the guy is a mega cash cow with regards to any movie he’s directing. Some small faction might not like his in your face, shoot-for-the-edit style of film making, but he’s pulling in the revenue to generate more mindless action vehicles.

And to prove a tired point, wouldn’t your 8 year old self want to reveal in watching gigantic mechanized Godzilla’s slugging it out on the big screen?

4.5 out of 10.0

Movie Review: WALL-E


Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Robots, and co-starring people.
Production Company: Disney/Pixar

After first experiencing WALL-E, I was floored. It was a beautiful story with endearing characters, a social message, and empathy and yet there was no dialogue for the first hour! WALL-E is the last machine left on a garbage encrusted earth; he dutifully carries out his task: compacting garbage into cubes and making skyscraper sized works of art out of them. With humans travelling the stars with no real intent of coming back home, WALL-E has been faithfully carrying out his job for 700 years with no interaction with others, save for his pet cockroach. During all this time, WALL-E has succeeded his other brethren, seemingly still sane due to his lovable curiosity and love of collecting junk. I anthropomorphize WALL-E only because I couldn’t help but root for the little guy. He’s just doing his job until the humans come home; which might never happen.

Short Circuit 3: Jonny 5 in space

WALL-E’s home itself is a testament to all the junk people can create, but it plays towards the old saying: ‘one man’s trash is another’s treasure’. Through it all, WALL-E cares for all his belongings and lovingly takes care of his pet cockroach, feeding him Twinkies, which I always figured would last a million years. His only interaction with people up to this point is a very old VHS (or possibly BETA) version of Hello Dolly that he watches religiously and at the certain scenes, longs for touching hands with someone else; it’s a lonely world for the little robot.

WALL-E’s world is turned upside down at the arrival of EVE (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), the super sleek, overtly Macintosh-inspired lady machine, looking for plant life on earth. As luck would have it, WALL-E’s attempts at wooing her fail miserably until he presents her with a plant he found growing inside an old fridge; her prime directive in finding any plant life, she shuts down, waiting for the arrival of her ship to bring her back home. As it turns out, WALL-E inadvertently hitches a ride with the ship and right into the adventure of his lifetime.

Humans work their way into the story in the last act, which for me was the weakest portion of the film. Ultimately, the goal is to have human’s re-colonized earth again, rather than travel through the stars. The machines all have a life of their own, as simple as they all look, most don’t even have eyes, and rely on their zany movements or manic behavior to tell us what they’re thinking. It all works, beautifully.

“So, what was your cut of the profits?”

You have to give credit to the Pixar animators, as they really show what they can do even without interaction or speech. Compare WALL-E to Final Fantasy (2001) which was a technical achievement and you’ll see what I mean. Final Fantasy was more concerned about getting their characters to look and act like real people, a noble effort, but the end result is a puppet on screen with dead vacuous pixels. Pixar took the formula, and gave life to WALL-E, so much so that you get the idea that he’s looking behind the film to see who’s operating the camera. I still can’t believe the animators did all this without giving the title character a mouth, just binocular type eyes that only rotate up or down. The pure curiosity, the sell of the moment, the lighting of the picture was even presented as a historical document that I could have believed.

WALL-E is a story for every one of all ages, of all walks of life. There’s a social message hidden in there; namely that we can’t ignore our garbage problems, or just leave when the going gets tough. There’s little treats peppered throughout for the detail oriented, watch for other Pixar movie props to appear on garbage piles, and listen to the AXIOM computer voice, a little nod to an actress who made space cool again. The movie plays out like one of the great silent movies, there’s empathy, there’s pathos, there’s even a love story. I highly recommend this flick to anyone who enjoys a good movie.

9.5 out of 10