So if you take Roger Ebert’s word for it, Transformers 2 probably signals the end of Western civilization. It’s so bloated that the blockbuster model will surely collapse on itself. I wouldn’t go quite that far, since the AV Club made the same assessment of the first movie and somehow the sequel managed to be bigger, louder, and more mindless.
However, I also wouldn’t say that TF2 a very good movie. Here are my pros and cons list:
- Let’s get it out of the way: Skids & Mudflap were disturbing. It’s almost like Michael Bay was daring us to stir up controversy. I mean, every other robot looks like their faces are a bunch of random metal parts. Why do these two look and talk exactly like racist caricatures that went out of style 50 years ago? In TF3, will we see these two guys eating watermelons and fried chicken, too?
- And, including Wheelie, there where a whopping THREE Jar-Jar Binks type characters in this movie.
- The way the camera lingers on Megan Fox and … um … certain parts of her is pretty creepy. Ditto Alice and the unnecessary fanservice.
- OK, I understand The Fallen was sorta canon in the comic books, but anyone who’s followed the old cartoon and the toys had never heard of him. And why does he look like a Bionocle?
- Bay’s obsession with dog-humping is pretty dumb. This is what kids find funny these days? Maybe we need to go back in time and give everyone courses on animal husbandry.
- Boy, and I thought the whole masturbation talk from the previous movie was pretty uncomfortable. Try explaining the pot brownies to your kids.
- The terribly shoe-horned “I love you” subplot. You know better, Michael Bay: you totally suck at portraying human emotions. We’re here to watch things blow up, dammit!
- Professor McSexy. I mean, God, what was the point of that guy?
- Too frigging long.
- Frankly, if you thought the ‘bots didn’t have enough screen time in the first movie, they seem to even have less here. The banner shows that I’m a Ratchet fan. He had, like, one line in the entire movie!
- Somehow everyone I know thinks this was as good as the first movie. I loved the first movie, and this movie was a cut below. This makes me realize that I am surrounded by people who have no taste, and I must resist the urge to go on a big nerd lecture.
PROS (and there are some!):
- The banner above also says I’m an Arcee fan. Guess which Transformer to be onscreen finally? And three, in fact!
- Jetfire was kinda goofy… but they managed to do the backstory justice! In the G1 cartoon, they guy was a former Decepticon who crashlanded on Earth several eons past. That’s who he is here, but with a pretty clever twist.
- As much as the Pretenders were the darkest nadir of the G1 line, I was a bit happy that one managed to make its way into this movie. You know what would’ve been even better? If Sam Witwicky turned into a Headmaster.
- Wheelie was dumb, but somehow not as dumb as Wheelie from Transformers: The Movie.
- Finally, the Megatron-Starscream back-and-forth makes it front and center! I can finally accept that their weird star-shaped Decepticon in the football helmet is the real Starscream. He even managed to sound like him, too, i.e. a cross between a snake and Spongebob Squarepants.
- I can’t complain too much about either Soundwave or Ravage, who were as true to form as a big screen adaptation could make them. Now give us Laserbeak!
- Turning Devastator into a big Gozilla beastie was actually a pretty inspired development. You already have big robots wreaking havoc everywhere. What distinguishes Devastator beyond scale, which, at times, is not too easy to perceive?
- Odious comic relief not so odious; I admit I laughed like a slack-jawed moron at Leo and that Sector 7 dude.
- All in all, decent special effects and nice locales. You can’t go wrong with a giant robot whaling on the top of the Great Pyramid. You just can’t.
So, basically the same big, dumb movie that’s been made since Hollywood discovered color. And it did well, so you can expect these spectacles to go on and on forever. Plus, what so wrong about turning off your mind for three hours if most moviegoers ultimately went home happy?
However, no way in hell I’m buying the DVD like I did the first movie. Sorry, guys… I DO have my limitations.