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.