중앙데일리

Robot sequel much less than meets the eye

June 26,2009
Not even another appearance by Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime can save “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” from offensive mediocrity. [CineSeoul]

There are good things about 14-year-olds. They can be incredibly imaginative and inquisitive about things adults might miss, and their attempts at humor can be funny for all the wrong reasons. They can also be incredibly irritating, in exactly the same ways, coincidentally, as “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

The primary characteristic of this big-budget Michael Bay sequel, which marks the real kickoff of the summer blockbuster season, is its immaturity. Like a 14-year-old, it has no sense of moderation or restraint, bouncing off the walls with seemingly limitless energy. In the middle of the worst stretch of puberty, it thinks wimpy boys, strong girls and testicle jokes are the height of irony. It believes fighter planes and robots are the awesomest things in the world (all right, I may still be 14 in this area). It has absolutely no racial sensitivity.

And just like a 14-year-old, it thinks we have nothing better to do than pay attention to it for nearly two-and-a-half hours.

I would politely describe the first “Transformers” movie as a waste of time. It was entirely disposable entertainment. But it wasn’t actively offensive, and hearing Peter Cullen’s booming baritone on the big screen as Optimus Prime was almost worth it.

But this sequel is incoherent, overlong and, worst of all, obnoxious.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), the lucky kid who discovered these alien robots in disguise in the first film, is heading off to college, much to the chagrin of his cartoonish and barely one-dimensional parents. Although he’s not breaking up with his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox), he can’t bring himself to say he loves her either in what has to be the most implausible conceit in the film (good heavens - look at her!).

Meanwhile, the Autobots have been made part of a testosterone-fueled elite U.S. military squad called NEST, which opens the film parachuting into Shanghai to fight Decepticons in a fantasy world where the projection of American military power knows no bounds. Soon, Megatron (Hugo Weaving) is back, bringing with him an even bigger baddie - The Fallen (Tony Todd), one of Optimus Prime’s great-great-great uncles. They’re after a key called the Matrix of Leadership that will let them destroy the sun.

Meanwhile, Sam accidentally touches a shard of the Allspark from the first film, which gives him crazy alien glyph nightmares, and he has to turn to a government agent-turned-conspiracy-theorist (John Turturro) to decipher them, leading him straight to the Matrix key and the sun-destroying machine in the Egyptian Pyramids.

The robot fights are impressively rendered but relentless, and the new Autobot characters “the twins” are a shocking racial stereotype, with buck teeth (one of them gold) and ebonics-laced dialogue delivered by the extremely not-black Tom Kenny.

Of course, Transformers the film is based on Transformers the line of robot toys (Hasbro is the very second credit to appear), so obviously this movie is for kids and grown-ups on a nostalgia kick. Though it feeds all the worst qualities a teenager can possibly have, I doubt parents will be able to escape their kids’ demands to see it.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Science fiction / English

150 min.

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By Ben Applegate [bapplegate@gmail.com]



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