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?

Classic Review: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Stars:  ***1/2 out of Four

Summary:  The first reboot of ‘Star Trek’ completely reinvigorated the franchise, achieving through clever writing what couldn’t be achieved through a higher budget.

Are you getting this?  How can this film not be awesome?  Look at that!

Are you getting this? How can this film not be awesome? Look at that!

Review:  Though highly successful with audiences, the previous ‘Star Trek’ film was critically disliked, provoking Paramount to restrict creator Gene Roddenberry’s access to the development of the inevitable sequel.  And unlike other franchises that have been disconnected from their creators, this one definitely improved.  While still being credited as “Executive Consultant”, Gene’s influence, such as restricting character conflict, was minimized.  The Paramount executives brought in TV legend Harve Bennett to produce the film, using TV sets and a massively restricted budget after the previous film overspent to little effect.  This meant the ridiculous amount of effects footage from the previous film would have to be recycled at certain points.

All this led to what was effectively a franchise reboot, wiping the slate clean.  New uniforms were designed, sets were redressed, a new composer (James Horner) was brought in, and Trek newbie Nicholas Meyer was chosen to direct.  He also helped rewrite the film, making things flow the way he wanted them to, adding more of a naval feel to Starfleet that reverberate throughout each subsequent film and series.

Instead of the philosophical bent of ‘The Motion Picture’, ‘The Wrath of Khan’ became centered around character conflict, with themes such as age, death, revenge, regret, and self-sacrifice.  Instead of the misguided threat of V’Ger from ‘The Motion Picture’, the direct, malevolent threat of Khan was reintroduced, having been set up for a reappearance by an episode of the television show.  Khan never met Kirk face to face during the film’s events, but he managed to have great chemistry with his nemesis anyway.

By far the most controversial decision was to kill off the beloved character of Spock, as the actor wanted to leave ‘Star Trek’ and the filmmakers felt it would add the needed weight to make the film’s themes run full circle.  In short, it worked, and the actor chose to return in the next installment.

With a very direct plot thread and nearly constant suspense, the film succeeded in every way that ‘The Motion Picture’ failed, becoming the first true classic of ‘Star Trek’ and becoming the high mark of the entire franchise, though I personally enjoy Meyer’s second ‘Star Trek’ feature better.

Not just a good ‘Star Trek’ film, but a great film in general.  One hopes that the latest ‘Star Trek’ reboot can live up to the first.