Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Note from James:  Yet another film I neglected to review, but this one was intentionally skipped.  Yeah, it’s so bad, I didn’t even want to talk about how bad it was.

Stars: *1/2 out of Four

Summary:  Almost a solid half of a terrible film, paired with half of a decent film.  Stupidity and adrenaline fueled conflict collide, and the result is very messy.

This poster, according to leading scientists, is 100% more awesome than the entire advertised film.

This poster, according to leading scientists, is 100% more awesome than the entire advertised film.

Review:  Okay, so Michael Bay’s first hit ‘Transformers’ wasn’t all that great either, but seriously?  That film at least had some good, fun moments.  Watching this film is like being hit over the head with a crowbar, while being tazered, while trying to snort mace, while playing with an Optimus Prime action figure.  With multiple elements involved, you would think that at least one would be enjoyable, but nooooo!  They all suck, except of course the Optimus Prime part of the equation, which would be awesome if you weren’t snorting mace, being tazered, etc.

But, Optimus Prime, voiced by original voice actor Peter Cullen, is awesome! Sadly, he isn’t the dominate element of the film, and is thus lost in a sea of failure.

The cinematography is awful.  It definitely didn’t help matters at all.  There are moments, individual shots (the longest shot was about, maybe, 8 seconds long) that are cool, but the hyperkinetic camera movement is both dizzying and forgettable.  The super-fast-hyper-handheld-cam really did work for the ‘Bourne’ movies, but it cannot possibly work for ‘Transformers’.  Ever.  Ever!

I didn’t give one “damn” for all the characters on screen, except for Bumblebee and Optimus Prime.  That’s 2 out of about 30 characters.  Everything about the story seems cheapened.  Last time I checked, ‘Transformers’ was a franchise beloved by children everywhere.  Why, then, did it enter the filmmaker’s minds to plug the film with unlikeable characters (and I do mean unlikeable) and stupid sexual jokes?  It not only alienates the family audience but makes the emotional core of the film — yes, there is one, just buried deep — worthless.

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

The musical score, which impressed me in the first film, is lacking here.  Surprisingly, though, it is merely mediocre and not utterly atrocious.

The CGI was good, sure, and the action at times was cool (when I could see it!), but I didn’t give six pence to watch a movie that I didn’t care about.  Why did I see this movie?

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

Stars:  *** out of Four

Summary:  Very cartoonish, tongue-in-cheek, breathless entertainment, which if taken in the right spirit is just the kind of movie that Summers were made for.

Better than it looks on the poster, honestly.

Better than it looks on the poster, honestly.

The first few minutes of G.I. Joe establish a very mixed tone.  It is cheesy, breathless, short, and to-the-point, with shocking display of violence for a PG-13 film.  I was a little put off by this.  What followed, though, quickly restored my faith and turned out to be quite entertaining.

There is nearly constant violence.  I’m not a lover of violence, but the Joes are truly good guys out to stop really bad guys.  There has to be some justice in the world, and the Joes administer it in bulk.  Unfortunately, the evil COBRA Organization lives up to its cinematic responsibility to be hateable, and unleashes some brutal and sometimes gruesome imagery and sounds for our senses to bear, on the level of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.  This is a film geared for teenagers, not little kids.

Anyway, the effects, music, and dialog all point in the same direction: the tongue-in-cheek.  This really is a live-action cartoon.  That’s why most of the critical response seems ironically hilarious to me.  What did they expect, a serious character examination from a movie based on a cartoon/comic book series based on a toy line?  Sure, it’s entirely possible to have such a thing, but why demand it?

All in all, it’s the most fun I’ve had at the movies this year since ‘Star Trek’.  You’ve just got to know how to enjoy it.  And knowing is half the battle!