Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Ramon Rodriguez, Isabel Lucas, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving and Frank Welker.
Stuff I Didn’t Like:
- This is a Michael Bay film. Know this walking through the doors. You’re going to see a lot more slow-motion than in a three-hour marathon of MythBusters, enough beauty shots of military hardware to have any flag officer grinning with delight, and explosions to shame the most extravagant Independence Day spectacle. I don’t mind them as thematic elements here and there, but the pervasiveness makes them feel more like padding than anything else.
- Likewise, the plot and dialogue feel padded. Some scenes seem to go on for longer than they should. Unlike some critics, I think the plot was fairly linear, if somewhat schizophrenic and over-burdened with MacGuffins, but it felt to me like we could have gotten from Sam’s first day at college to the deli in New York and over to Egypt a bit faster.
- I would have liked a bit more characterization of some of the transformers – Starscream, Arcee and her sisters, Sideswipe and Soundwave spring immediately to mind – rather than lingering on the banter of the Twins or the sultry hip-cocking of the Deceptislut, Alice. These really are fascinating and deep characters, believe it or don’t, and we don’t need obnoxious comic relief or gratuitous panty shots to keep us interested. Yes, Michael, I’m looking at you!
- Speaking of panty shots, did we REALLY need to see John Turturro’s bare ass? What has been seen cannot be unseen!!
- Did someone in post-production forget to digitize Soundwave’s voice? He sounded more like Dr. Claw. Awesome, yes, but not quite the Soundwave I imagine.
- There’s a bit at the end with Optimus Prime that isn’t very Optimus. After Jetfire renders his assistance, Optimus kicks even more tailgate than usual (and that’s a lot, see below), but then ditches Jetfire’s help entirely and doesn’t say another word about it. It is downright COLD. It’s worse than the treatment Jazz got in the first movie, and Jazz was Prime’s “first lieutenant”. Now here’s a Seeker, a legend among both factions of Transformers, and Prime brushes his noble sacrifice and long history aside like there was some dirt on his shoulder. Double-you tee eff?
Stuff I Liked:
- Okay, I know I’m 30. I know I’m struggling to make ends meet financially and need to be responsible in the decisions I make as an adult. But this is pure, unleaded, high-octane fun for the 10-year-old boy I refuse to lock away. Even more than in the first movie, we get giant robots that turn into cars and planes beating the crap out of one another, and from the first big explosion in ‘Shanghai’ to the final confrontation, I’m sitting in my parent’s living room again, eyes wide in wonder at the awesomeness of Transformers.
- Say what you want about the designs of the Transformers in the films, and complain about how they don’t look like their Generation 1 counterparts. I, for one, am glad that there’s no mass-shifting involved with these Transformers. It’s not as cool as, say, Soundwave changing from a towering robotic death machine to a harmless boom box you can carry on your shoulder, but it’s more realistic, if such a word can be applied to these films. Besides, why would Megatron deign to be carried by a lackey when he can blast his foes into scrap himself? I never quite figured that out.
- For all their obnoxiousness, I found myself laughing at the Twins. Particularly, this exchange:
Mudflap: “Ow! That hurt, man!”
Skids: “It’s supposed to hurt, it’s called an ass-whuppin’.”
I also liked them calling Sam’s sidekick Leo a pussy.
- There’s fan service here and I’m not just talking about Megan Fox. Soundwave releases Ravage. Jetfire and Optimus combine, and Constructicons combine into Devastator. Isabel Lucas does double-duty in the fan service department by being both a Pretender, and hotter than Las Vegas on a cloudless August day.
- NEST is a good bunch of guys. I’m glad to see them here.
- In addition to her eye candy duties, Megan Fox is more of an action hero than Shia and Ramon put together.
- Bumblebee, Ironhide and Rachet return, along with Sideswipe (who’s quite good) and Arcee & her sisters, who I still think needed more screentime.
Stuff I Loved:
- Soundwave and Starscream are just as I remember them. Soundwave is aloof and keeps his distance from the fighting to better serve Megatron, while Starscream snivels and looks for opportunities to undermine Megatron’s command.
- Optimus Prime is, in the words of Stout, a murder machine. Despite his desire to promote peace and understanding, he doesn’t hesitate to open up entire cases of whoop-ass on the Decepticons. “GIVE ME YOUR FACE” has, apparently, become an Internet meme of sorts, and spawns some hilarious fan art. But it’s not just faces – he yanks off Starscream’s arm and beats him with it. That’s worth the price of admission, even if it took us a while to get there.
- Jetfire. Just… Jetfire. Words cannot contain the ancient Seeker’s unbridled awesomeness. The SR-71 Blackbird is cool enough as it is, but from the moment Mikaela spots the Decepticon symbol until the very end of the film, I for one was riveted with delight by Jetfire. Here, folks, is a Transformer who can’t transform as well as he used to, gets rust in some very uncomfortable places, and sometimes can’t even remember his own name let alone his mission, but in spite of that, he switched sides in the civil war because the Decepticons annoyed him, he beats up other ‘bots with his cane, and he can travel by Space Bridge. And I haven’t even mentioned his accent and vocabulary.
I’ll admit it. I really enjoyed this movie, especially the more I thought about it, and would definitely see it again. I don’t think it’s a film for the ages, or even an example of what I consider good storytelling, but I paid to see gigantic robotic throwdowns, and got exactly what I expected.