Sunday, June 28, 2009
YESTERDAY, I drove down to ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood, where I took pictures of the vehicles that made up Ironhide, Sideswipe and Bumblebee in Revenge of the Fallen. Pretty awesome. Back in 2007, I also took photos of the life-size Bumblebee movie prop when it was placed in front of a shopping center at the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. As of this Blog, you can see the statue in front of the AMC theater at Universal CityWalk in Hollywood. Now if only they had the Peterbilt truck that represented Optimus Prime displayed somewhere...or least the F-22 fighter for Starscream. Just kidding. I already saw an F-22 in person at an air show a few years ago.
Below are actual outfits worn by Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson in Revenge of the Fallen. I hope those mannequins don’t reflect the actual height of the actors... Otherwise, Megan Fox would be much taller than me.
Friday, June 26, 2009
REVENGE OF THE FALLEN: The Review... So I saw Transformers 2 on Wednesday, and I finally have time to give my take on Michael Bay’s latest film. Considering the fact I’ve devoted almost 2 years to writing about Transformers (both this one and the 2007 original...which I will refer to as TF1) on this Blog, I’d first like to point out the many positive aspects about this newest Bay blockbuster.
OPTIMUS AND BUMBLEBEE...
First and foremost, Optimus Prime rocked. From his introduction rolling out of that C-17 aircraft over Shanghai and transforming in mid-air, to him making quick work of Demolisher after hanging onto the Decepticon as he wrought havoc around the Chinese city, to him owning Starscream and Blackout in that forest battle, and then to him having a final confrontation with The Fallen in Egypt, Prime was totally awesome. A lot of people (including myself) took issue with how he was completely overmatched by Megatron in the first film... It’s nice to see him show what a great warrior he is when he takes on said Decepticons mentioned above. And Peter Cullen, as usual, did a nice job giving the Autobot leader his noble and commanding voice. "I rise, you fall..." Damn right, Optimus. Bumblebee was dope. He totally rocked as he beat the crap out of Rampage and, um, "de-boned" Ravage as Soundwave’s feline minion tried to attack the Autobot during Revenge of the Fallen’s climax. And I thought Bumblebee’s lack of speech had a much better effect in this film than in TF1. It made him look more like a "gentle giant"... Driving Sam Witwicky and his human friends around in Jordan or Egypt during one instance, and kicking major ass the next. But I already mentioned this part 4 sentences ago.
Although it was too bad that we didn’t see him in his robot mode, Soundwave's role in the movie was pretty cool. The fact that he was a satellite the whole time and calling the shots for all the Decepticons (both on Earth and in outer space) was a nice touch. And one thing you have to give Michael Bay props for was getting Frank Welker, who voiced Soundwave in the original Transformers cartoons in the 1980s, to reprise his role as the Decepticon spy in Transformers 2. Even though Bay unfortunately didn’t give Soundwave’s voice that "vocoder" sound (Soundwave instead sounded like Dr. Claw, who was also voiced by Welker, in the old animated TV show, Inspector Gadget) that made the visor-wearing minion of Megatron so memorable, it’s still made up by the fact Bay put effort into getting Welker to be a part of this sequel. Ravage himself totally kicked ass. As mentioned in the paragraph before this one, it’s too bad he got Pwned by Bumblebee though. Haha.
AUTOBOTS, ROLL OUT... DECEPTICONS ATTACK!
This is gonna be an extremely long Blog (moreso than what it will be) if I devote a paragraph to each Transformer, so I’ll mention the rest of them here. Sideswipe was f*ckin’ awesome...especially went he cuts the Decepticon Audi R8 known as Sideways "sideways" in the beginning of the film. And The Fallen, voiced by Candyman and 24’s Tony Todd, was a total bad-ass. From him being able to teleport to him levitating those tanks and rocks from an Egyptian pyramid at the climax of the film, this Transformer equivalent of Lucifer (which is an analogy that was spouted by many online articles in the months before ROTF’s release) was definitely a foe to be fearful of if you were an Autobot. Unless, of course, you had Jetfire’s body parts attached to you. Watch the film to know what I’m talking about. In terms of Megatron, nice to see him bicker with his second-in-command Starscream so incessantly in ROTF like he did in the cartoon. Though I have to ask: Did Megatron get equipped with some form of hyperdrive after he was brought back to life on the ocean floor? ‘Cause it looked like it only took him literally a day to fly to that planet (where Starscream and The Fallen were hiding) that definitely wasn’t a world that exists in our solar system. EVEN if it was Saturn or Jupiter or something... Megatron wouldn’t have reached those planets as quickly as he did in Transformers 2. Oh well.
Dealing with the human characters, Shia LaBeouf once again carried the film. He was totally convincing as he lost his mind in that astronomy class after touching that All-Spark shard early on in the movie. I liked his scenes with Megan Fox...who is so gosh-darn gorgeous that whatever shortcomings she had with her performance is ironically masked by how amazing she looks on camera. And if you read my review for the first film, you’ll find out that one of the main reasons why I wanted to see Transformers 2 get made was to see the relationship between Sam and Mikaela get expanded upon. And ROTF didn’t disappoint. Sam’s parents were just as hilarious here as in the first film (though as what someone mentioned online a few days ago, Sam's mom acted like she was mentally challenged or something at the beginning of the movie), and John Turturro as Agent Simmons was funnier in this movie than in TF1. Tyrese Gibson pretty much gave the same performance as he did in the previous flick, but Josh Duhamel was a crack-up when tosses that blowhard politican (Galloway, played by John Benjamin Hickey) out of that airborne C-17. Ramon Rodriguez as Sam’s roommate Leo was pretty much the Anthony Anderson of this movie...though Rodriguez had one really hilarious scene in the second act of ROTF (when he accidentally zaps himself with a stungun after tripping over on a restroom floor). Other than that though, his character sure likes talking about his testicles. Speaking of testicles...
Now that I mentioned the positive aspects of Revenge of the Fallen, time to mention the not-so-positive ones. For starters, the movie was REALLY LONG. I keep pointing out that movies based on amusement park rides (a.k.a. the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels) have NO RIGHT to be 3 hours in length. It pains me to say that movies based on toys have NO RIGHT to be 2-and-a-half hours in length. (And I’m well aware that movie reviews have NO RIGHT to be as long as the one I’m typing right now). What saves ROTF though, is the humor. This movie would, quite honestly, be 20 times worse than Terminator Salvation if it didn’t have the comical moments provided by Sam’s parents, Agent Simmons, Leo (for the most part), Wheelie (that small robot that transformed into a remote control truck and, um, liked violating one of Megan Fox’s legs) and YES, those Autobot twins: Skids and Mudflap. To an extent. Michael Bay apparently likes to joke about testicles...seeing as how Ramon Rodriguez mentions them, like, three times in the movie, and we even glimpse in one scene two wrecking balls dangling between Devastator’s legs as the giant Constructicon climbs up that pyramid. Being 2 hours, 30 minutes long, I guess you have to put as many comic moments as possible to help the audience get through a film with such an epic running time.
Two more notes about Transformers 2 involve the visual effects and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, Steve Jablonsky’s music score (which was still exceptional). Sure, it was friggin’ awesome seeing like 46 robots duke it out this time around...but the number of Transformers in this film meant that Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) didn’t have time to polish all the robots’ scenes in ROTF. Most of the scenes that suffered were those that involved Megatron and Starscream. Yes, it was awesome to see these two classic characters argue with each other throughout the film...but these two characters have such complicated designs (which is either good or bad depending on how you feel about Bay's take on the Transformers franchise) that it feels like ILM needed a few more months to make these ‘Cons blend in more seamlessly with their surroundings (particularly in that scene where Megatron is scolding Starscream on top of that skyscraper following the forest battle sequence...a screenshot from that is shown above). And in the final confrontation between Optimus, The Fallen and Megatron, the animation seemed very jerky as Optimus makes quick work of these characters. Maybe if this movie was released around Independence Day like TF1 was back in 2007, ILM could’ve made these scenes look a lot more realistic. But that's only a 2-week difference. ILM needed more time than that. Oh well.
Last but definitely not least: Steve Jablonsky’s score for ROTF. It was awesome that he collaborated with Linkin Park for the film’s music...but in all honesty his work on TF2 wasn’t as memorable as his tracks in TF1. TF1 had that heroic tune during that opening scene with the All-Spark floating in space, the even-more heroic track during the Autobots’ arrival scene on Earth, the unique Decepticon theme...and that memorable pulse-pounding music that played during Skorponok’s attack on that Qatar village. TF2 had some noteworthy music (particularly during that NEST scene in Shanghai, and when Optimus emerges victorious near the Sphinx following his defeat of The Fallen), but nothing really stood out compared to the score for TF1. Of course, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy the TF2 score on CD. It got shipped out from Amazon.com on Wednesday and I should be getting it this weekend. And play it over and over on my MP3 player.
All-in-all, Revenge of the Fallen was a fun film... Just like the first one. I totally want Michael Bay to direct a third installment, which will hopefully be released (if the world hasn’t been destroyed by then) in 2012. Of course, here’s hoping the running time for the next movie will be MUUUCH SHORTER than in ROTF. At least make Transformers 3 130 minutes-long…compared to 143 minutes for the first film and 150 for this one. I already saw Transformers 2 three times on opening day (first time during a midnight show, second time with two of my co-workers during a morning IMAX screening, and the third time with five of my hometown friends during a night show), I’ll probably watch it about five more times before this summer is over. Haha. That is all.
Monday, June 22, 2009
TWO DAYS FROM NOW... I’ll be watching Transformers 2 on IMAX during a matinee screening. Critics be damned... I’m totally looking forward to seeing Giant F**kin’ Robots and The Foxy Lady back on the big screen this Wednesday.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
NEW DIVIDE... In case you haven’t checked out the new music video to Linkin Park’s Transformers 2 song yet, you can watch it below. These screenshots from the movie were taken from the video. I hope Optimus Prime kicks major ass in TF2...before he goes into "statis lock", that is. I would elaborate, but I don’t wanna spoil that part of the film for ya.