I posted a link below in the latest Epi-Cast show-notes but, having listened to the final product, I feel compelled to shill a little more for my associates over at superherohype.com's official podcast The Hype! Cast. I joined the intrepid trio of Malice, Immortal Fire and highscorefilms last monday and spent an often hilariously entertaining 90 minutes running the critical gamut over Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The resulting debate/discussion/gab-session has now been edited, mastered and released on iTunes as well as on their pod feed, and it's really worth checking out, along with some of their past episodes. So, look for me, wielding the esoteric moniker Episode29 (Bet you can't guess where I got it!), in Episode #24: Transformers Review and then feel free to storm their archives for past hidden gems.
Greetings fans and foes, we've returned to help you recover some of the decimated brain cells you withered away watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen! Nothing but the smartest, most intellectual and scintillating discussion ahead (Yes, we talk about Transformers...). Plus, we even have a special guest to help boost our already sky-rocketing energy levels. We may not have the Matrix of Leadership or all-mighty Allspark in our possession, but we have what really counts: Voluminous Verbosity! Take that Optimus!
Epicast: Episode 13 - "Transformers and Jack Black and Larry David, Oy vey!"
Wherein Cam and Tom, with special guest Janine Smith, don honourary yarmulkes and rejoice over Woody Allen's hilarious Larry David vehicle Whatever Works. The duo (sans guests) also kicks Jack Black's Year One in the stones, while Cam recounts a few reasons why Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is an affront to all that is good and holy in our universe. Also stuffed into these 90 mins of film-fun are withering dismissals of Daniel Craig's Defiance and Jim Carrey's Yes Man, along with trailer reviews for the Matt Damon/Steven Soderbergh corporate comedy The Informant, the vampire cliche-pile Daybreakers, Vince Vaughn's Couple Retreat and M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender. Mazel tov!
Show Note: To download Cam's awesome-tastic appearance on superherohype.com's Hype! Cast, in which he and the show's hosts do a full hour-long review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, either search for "Hype! Cast" on iTunes or head on over to the Hype! Cast's podcast feed and download Episode 24.
To download, right-click and save on the green episode title above and then listen/suffer to your dear pulsating organ's content. Get your mind out of the gutter.
P.S.: We also available on iTunes! Seriously! They accepted us! Simply do a store search for "Epi-Cast" and RIP-TORN!, there we are! Oh, and we're the movie-talky-talky show, not the holy roller festival.
Watching Michael “Blow It All To Hell” Bay’s latest thought-impaired robotic punch ‘em up Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the sequel to 2007’s lumbering, migraine-inducing Transformers, it occurred to me that the director doesn’t give two stinking spark-plugs about his titular titanium-plated titans. Sure, we’re treated to endless scenes in which they cave in each other’s craniums with ginormous swords and mega-detonating projectiles, but personality-wise they’re empty vessels, characterized solely by their vehicular appearance and distorted booming voices. It takes a certain amount of determination to cut together 150 minutes of mechanized car-nage, Pauly Shore-level comedy and infinite shots of anonymous military people spouting jargon ala “The target is located!”, and not reveal a single interesting idea about the characters, but boy did he succeed. In fact, the flick could be renamed GoBots or Voltron and only a few superficial changes would be required.
The plot? Oy. Oddly, the script by the shallow writing duo Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (with added “help” from Reindeer Games scribe Ehren Kruger), is both lamely simplistic and torturously convoluted at the same time. Much like the similarly bloated Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, lots and lots of things happen, but very little matters.
Essentially Revenge of the Fallen can be synopsised as thus: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is departing for Maxim College – where all the women dress like Seymour Street hookers and seem perpetually on the brink of orgasmic ecstasy – when he discovers a fragment of the all-powerful All-Spark, which zaps his head full of alien code. The Decepticons, under the rule of the disgraced warlord The Fallen, need this implanted information to find a potentially world-ending device that will give them unlimited supremacy. Hence, Optimus Prime and the Autobots, along with a few one-note human sidekicks, must assemble to thwart their wicked scheme. Much joyless brawling, screaming and showering scrap metal ensues.
Transformers die-hards (Trans-fans?) will no doubt devour the numerous diesel-injected dust-ups. There’s an impressive forest-set melee where Optimus takes on multiple mechanized assailants at once, along with an impressively staged gargantuan climax in Egypt which, up to the underwhelming final boss battle, is almost pornographic in its obsession with money shots and Megan Fox’s heaving bosom. But what about the Transformers’ personalities and feelings? What do they think about when not clashing? There are some interesting questions raised – probably unintentionally – regarding the alien race’s birthing process. Do these creatures mate? They appear asexual, and almost entirely masculine. How does an Optimus Prime reproduce? Also, we get a glimpse at Robot Heaven, where angelic Auto-bots – I’m guessing that there’s a Robot Hell reserved for Decepticons – stand in front of the pearly gates bathed in light. Is there Transformer theology? Who do they pray to? Do they dream of electric sheep? Fans might as well bellow these questions into the never-ending void, because the film-makers could care less. They’re vehicles for seeking and instigating mayhem, little else.
...Which would be forgivable if there was a single human performance in Revenge of the Fallen that rose above the level of transparent. LaBeouf, the team’s MVP and everyman, is helpless in the face of Bay’s orchestra of idiocy. He sweats fetchingly, shouts insipid terminology with gusto and gamely charges into the numerous bombastic set-pieces head-first. Megan Fox is window dressing, with nothing to do except be willingly molested by Bay’s salacious camera - although newcomer Isabel Lucas is the primary target for the director’s unique brand of creepy misogyny – while Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel’s soldiers are best represented in an art-imiating-life dialogue exchange wherein they are informed that they are paid “to shoot, not talk”. John Turturro, reprising his annoying Sector 7 agent role, feels unnecessary but somewhat pleasant when compared to Ramon Rodriguez, as Sam’s conspiracy theory-fixated roommate, a narcissistic jerk of a character that’s an endurance test to tolerate.
Bay surrounds his human and mechanical nonentities with liberal heapings of masturbatory CG polish, characters TALKING! LIKE! THIS!, racially insensitive caricatures (the “twin” Auto-bots Skids and Mudflap have already provoked much passionate debate) and toilet-bowl sex humour. This is the type of film where mini-bots defile Megan Fox’s leg, dogs graphically hump each other (twice!) and a giant Decepticon named Devastator wields wrecking-ball testicles. I don’t necessarily blame Bay for going juvenile, but there is a cold-hearted cynicism at work that feels condescending toward adults and potentially harmful to impressionable children.
Ultimately, Transformers makes the classic blockbuster mistake of not comprehending the difference between enchanting an audience and numbing it into submission. Despite its massive budget, there’s not a single memorable line or moment of creative inspiration to be found amongst the reckless state-of-the-art computer-born gimmickry. At the conclusion of Revenge of the Fallen little doubt remains that Optimus Prime and his hulking horde of synthetic ciphers will return. Maybe next time they’ll actually let us see the soul beneath the aluminum armor.
2 out of 5
*Originally printed in SFU's The Peak: June 29th, 2009.