Monday, November 16, 2009

As bad as they said it was

Against my better judgment, but because I just had to see it for myself, I Netflixed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen over the weekend. This movie was eviscerated by reviewers during its theatrical release, but that didn't stop moviegoers from making it the most successful film of not just the summer but of all of 2009. I guess there's no accounting for taste.

So it was with these expectations that I watched it, most of it yesterday and finishing it up this morning. What can I say about this movie that has not already been said? At nearly 2.5 hours in length, it is certainly a lot of movie. But the funny thing is that I just got done watching it and it has completely evaporated from my brain. I can't recall a single point at which the plot moved forward. Mostly, I just recall the grinding of metal, robot characters I couldn't identify and human characters I couldn't be bothered to care about.

This is one of those instances where the reviewers were right on the money. This movie is not recommendable, not even in a so-bad-it's-good way. There was a point earlier this fall that I entertained spending a buck and a half and going to see it in the dollar theater, but after having seen this monstrosity, I'm so glad that I didn't. Without the ability to fast-forward through the atrocious dialogue and interminable battle scenes, I'm not sure I would have made it through the movie.

For me, the most damning thing about the movie was my inability to stay awake during the final battle scene last night. There I was, watching what was supposed to be the the most exciting (and probably most expensive) robot-vs.-robot scene in the movie and I couldn't keep my eyes open. It was with 15 minutes left in the movie that I turned it off and went to bed, saying to myself that I'd just finish it up in the morning. I'll forgive a lot of things in the name of seeing something cool on the screen, but this was more than even I could take. In so many ways, it was like watching a cartoon - even more so than the middle third of King Kong (the Skull Island part). I never believed that the robots were really there.

But perhaps the largest source of disappointment is that, no matter how much they may have co-opted the name and the image, these are NOT the Transformers of my youth. I was probably just a little bit too old for Transformers by the time they really hit, but I still liked them enough and I did watch the cartoon series after school. But the Transformers shown in the movie resemble the classic toys only in passing. They are ridiculously complex and (as has been stated by many a reviewer) it is almost completely impossible to differentiate one from another. During the battle scenes, it's just flying metal and you have no idea who to root for besides no one so that they will all die and the pain will end swiftly.

The biggest discrepancy between toy and movie comes in Devastator, the combination form of the Constructicons. I have a nearly complete Devastator on a shelf in my office - the only Transformer that truly remains from my youth. The movie version of Devastator vomits all over that, turning this:


into this:

I mean, seriously! We can put anything on the screen these days and this is what we get? Shameful.

I've learned my lesson. No way will the inevitable Transformers 3 reel me in.

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