Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

By Razib Khan | June 25, 2009 3:41 am

I saw the newest Transformers movie today. In terms of the cast, there were really only two who I felt were necessary in any way to the development of the film. Optimus Prime and Megan Fox.*

Slate has a spoiler filled review which hits many of the aspects which I think are relevant. I don’t watch many films in the theater, on average about 1 every 6 months. I’ve loaded up this spring since I saw the Star Trek reboot. I’m not a huge Trekkie, I’ve seen most of TOS & TNG episodes, but not so much of Voyager or DS9, and hardly any of Enterprise. I also didn’t watch many of the films. But I’m a nerd, and willing to pay for good action scenes on the big screen. In terms of Transformers I remember the animated series, and who didn’t worship Optimus Prime? A machine who was more a man than most.
But the movie is way too long. I do have this complaint about most action films. I couldn’t care less about plot and character development, I just want the story to move to the explosions and CGI. I don’t have the same issue with films which have real stories, I watched Pan’s Labyrinth recently and I didn’t check the time once. There were a lot of lame attempts at humor, and a relatively pro forma love story, smashed together with a typically incoherent plot structure which served to set up massive fights between robots. That being said, when I complained about the irrelevance of plot and character to a friend she noted that every male between the age of 12 and 50 is going to see this movie. Datum 1 to support this is that I went to see the movie despite my strong aversion into sinking 2 hours into this activity normally. Perhaps the extraneous stuff is window dressing for the children and significant others of the overgrown boys who are going for the action scenes. I did endure the 2 1/2 hours after all.
So how were the action scenes? They were OK. Bigger, badder, louder, and such, in relation to the first film. I don’t know if it would have been as satisfying if it weren’t for Optimus Prime. He’s a corny superhero whose goodness is unsullied by any complex texture of character. But he’s there to be flat, and I think the fact that he’s not technically human makes that less objectionable. Shia LaBeouf is really just organic transport for MacGuffins which allow Optimus Prime to redeem the sins of the sentient and prove that good can finish first at the end of the day, that it can overcome death itself.
I still think matinee price makes this film justifiable, but if you aren’t into action movies don’t bother tagging along. This might be one case where it;s advisable to buy some popcorn and a drink, it will give you something to do during the interminable periods between the special effects driven scenes. The visuals were better than the first film, but they probably really needed to be much better than they were to make an impact, since the first film already desensitized you to this particular flavor of CGI. And of course the non-action elements are significantly more distracting and disjointed in than the previous installment.
Related: He Has Risen.
Note: There was a really strange trailer from M. Night Shaymalan’s next movie, The Last Airbender, before Revenge of the Fallen. I thought it was perhaps a joke trailer, but then I thought that M. Night really takes himself seriously, so it’s for real.

* Megan Fox is a nerd. Lord of the Rings is are her favorite films.

  • Mike Keesey

    Megan Fox is a nerd. Lord of the Rings … are her favorite films.
    Perhaps that explains this.

  • Eman

    Forget gutter pop-culture: here’s a story for you Razib…
    – “Evolution faster when it’s warmer” –
    Could explain why there is so much more genetic diversity amongst equatorial Africans as opposed to the White Europeans and Asians who live in colder northern climates.

  • Laelaps

    If there’s any character unnecessary to the films, it’s Megan Fox’s. She’s just there for Michael Bay and the male target audience to ogle. It would make much more sense for Sam to leave her behind, but apparently Bay wanted her for a few more running-away-from-an-explosion-in-slow-motion shots with her in them. As some reviewers have pointed out, the whole movie is based around warring robots, women, &c. focusing on a nerdy kid and telling him he’s the most important person in the world.

  • dreikin

    The Last Airbender is a live action version of the anime Avatar: The Last Airbender. I haven’t watched it, but it’s fairly popular.

  • jim

    M. Night might ruin it, but Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the best American animated series of the 2000s. Really remarkably good. I’d say it’s the best example to date of the marriage of American and anime styles — both in terms of the visual look and the story-telling structure. Airbender was much more complex and layered than the typical American kids cartoon, but not so much that it confused it’s audience — it doesn’t veer off into the baroque and incomprehensible like anime often does.

  • bioIgnoramus

    Golly, even her breasts are over-acting.

  • luis

    What happened with arcee? she was only an extra and she did nothing, I wait two years to see arcee and she did not even said a word, and soundwave never transform and fight, and many sexual messages and many more bad things ,
    i am very disappointed

  • Matt Springer

    Michael Bay really likes filming Megan Fox. I think she’s pretty well constructed too, but there comes a point where the lingering shots start to seem almost perverse.

  • JR

    ” As some reviewers have pointed out, the whole movie is based around warring robots, women, &c. focusing on a nerdy kid and telling him he’s the most important person in the world.”
    You say it like it is a bad thing.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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