From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - C

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material, 150 minutes

Loud but entertaining "Transformers" sequel: optimus overdone-us

I will say upfront that I'm not a "Transformers" hater, though I never was an avid fan of the TV show that's been around in some form since the 1980's. The initial 2007 big screen version was an entertaining but vacuous action-adventure film with some engaging, eye-popping special effects. The behemoth of a sequel, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is more of the same - lots and lots more to be exact - clocking in at 2 hours, 20 minutes before the credits roll but still lacking any semblance of depth. Director Michael Bay has reassembled the machines and his cast in another entertaining yet exceedingly loud, overdone and overlong spectacle that's sure to the big hit of the summer. Get your large popcorn and beverage and settle in for a very long ride.

Decepticon forces return to Earth on a mission to take Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouf) prisoner, after the young hero learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers. Joining the mission to protect humankind is Optimus Prime (voiced once again by Canadian actor Peter Cullen), who forms an alliance with international armies for a second epic battle. Embedded with some valuable information that could aid the Transformers in their battle, Sam, along with girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) trek across the globe to bring down Decepticon forces led by Megatron (voice of Hugo Weaving) and Devastator (voiced by one of the original "Transformer" voices Frank Welker) as they threaten global domination.

The big question will be: does "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" deliver? Yes and no. The energetic but lengthy film does everything bigger, better and longer - with those amazing special effects and action set pieces the best parts of the film. Everything else? Not so much, but that shouldn't be a big surprise given that most will go for the special effects and action and little else. Bay is seemingly the perfect director to helm this epic big-budget adventure, deftly handling the action scenes and effects with such colorful fervor you'll certainly take notice over the forgettable, ridiculous plot and wooden acting that's creakier and more threadbare than any old Autobot locked up in your garage.

The new "Transformers" is basically a three-act big screen action-adventure play. The first section starts out with fun and energy, reintroducing us to the main characters and the basic plot. But Bay could've greatly trimmed the film's meandering and considerably drawn-out second act that sets up the spectactular, climactic desert battle between good machines and bad machines. That last section is the clear highlight of the film and what people come to expect from these types of movies, it just takes so darn long to get to that point. And yes, this "Transformers" noticeably leaves it open for future installments, in case you're wondering.

The acting in "Transformers?" Yeah, right. It's intentionally secondary to any special effect, and what's there could've been acted by non-humans. LeBouf ably carries the film and is once again an engaging, likable hero but the blank stares provided by the pretty Megan Fox add little substance, if anything to the film (as for her boobs, that's another story). The rest of the cast has been padded with specific purpose - Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel for their looks, John Turturro for comic relief and so on, but the special effects - in busy overabundance this time but still enjoyable - are the real show here (and two "mini" Autobots named Mudflap and Skids are the most fun).

Those memorable special effects and well-placed action sequences will make the pricey "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" a huge hit in spite of its glaring lack of substance, which shouldn't matter as there are many eagerly anticipating this film based on the trailers alone.

"Transformers" is about 40 minutes too long, but it still entertains on many levels - loads of action, loads of special effects, lots of pretty actors - what more can you ask more this summer? How about earplugs, Aleve and generous padding for your theater seat, all required for viewing "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."