Today I saw Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen with my youngest daughter. She's been begging me to take her for several weeks now. Apparently she's more of an action flick girl than I gave her credit for being. I don't think it's really action or non-action, I just think it's what movies she thinks she will like; but she's 13... well almost 14. But I digress...
The first Transformers was a wild ride that starts at the beginning of the movie and keeps on going all the way to the end. I expect nothing less from a Michael Mann film. He is unapologetic about his style of film making and why should he since he keeps banging out the hits. Transformers 2 doesn't disappoint either. It starts with a bang and doesn't end till it ends.
Interestingly, the starts of the first film were by every account the robots and the CGI effects (yes, one in the same I know). The stars though of the second film were much more "human." Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky and Megan Fox as his unlikely love interest are it; and everyone else seems to be either fodder for the plot or comic relief. The robots are in the sequel and central to the plot; just not seemingly central to the script. Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the decision. I actually think it made for a more exciting and more interesting movie. What hurts this movie most is that while they seemingly changed one element of the formula, the rest remained nearly identical to the first film.
Strange but unknown happenings far in the past - check. Apparently ineffectual military - check. Comic relief sidekicks both human and robot - check. Strange and embarrassing parents - check. Hot women waring as little as possible - check (mostly Megan Fox). Formulas do work though, look at James Bond. I think they took the criticism I remember hearing of the first film and decided to focus more on their two human stars. Besides, both of them have become immensely popular since 2007; so why not show off your best assets.
So, we've established that they stuck to the formula short of giving more screen time to the two central human characters. We've also established that all of the elements of the first film were there as well. What's missing? Not much. There is a lot of destruction, a lot of guns blazing, a lot of running and yes lots of destruction. This time around robot created destruction is visited upon both Paris and Gaza, along with the US and the Pacific Ocean. What's definitely not missing is one liners and comic relief. The idiot from the Whitehouse is a winner, the college roommate is a winer and the robot twins are just well, unnecessary roughness. Read more on the web about them, I'm not going into it here.
You will also get to see just about every major character from the first film back again. This time they play less central roles but still get a fair amount of screen time. They definitely weren't doing cameos.
So, you are probably thinking I didn't like the movie very much. That's not true. My daughter and I actually thought it was a lot of fun. It's a movie I will return to on DVD for sure. The original and the sequel will make for a nice double feature some time a year or two from now. The films failings are only in the same arena as other summer films. Transformers 2 is like a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese dinner. A delicious meal that hits the spot, but in the end is lacking in any nutritional value. That doesn't mean you don't eat the meal, you do eat it and enjoy it. That's why you chose to eat the meal to begin with wasn't it?