Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (Part 1)

Previously on Transformers...

At least twelve thousand years ago the Transformers did fight,
their epic battle caused the All Spark to go out of sight,
Megatron couldn't Let It Go and got himself Frozen,
he was found by Captain Witwicky who became the chosen,
the Decepticons searched for the good Captain's knowledge,
hacking their way around the world and causing much carnage,
they traced it to his great-great-grandson Sam Witwicky,
who was unknowingly under the protection of the mute Bumblebee,
Sam had problems of his own as he longed for the fair Mikaela's hand,
for she was prettiest in the land and her boobies were quite tanned,
Optimus Prime showed up to become the ultimate wingman,
revealing only Sam could save the world and stop the giant iceman,
a bunch of horribly stupid comedy and other bullshit did ensue,
including an appearance from John Turturro whom I fear has gone cuckoo,
finally young Samuel embraced his destiny and saved the day,
and now I am somewhat dumber all thanks to Michael Bay.

Transformers was a bit of a mess, wasn't it? 2009's Revenge Of The Fallen unfortunately brings back all the key creative minds behind the first one, so already there's a dark ominous cloud over this thing. To make matters worse, Ehren Kruger was brought in as a third script writer because of his “vast knowledge” of all things Transformers. Kruger is responsible for writing the ATROCIOUS Ben Affleck movie Reindeer Games and the SINGLE MOST DISAPPOINTING movie I've ever seen in a theater not called the Phantom Menace,, the Brothers Grimm. DAMMIT Terry Gilliam, WTF happened here?!?

Anyway, let's dive on in because the water sure as hell ain't getting any warmer. A Ghoul Versus Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen!

The film begins with Optimus Prime NARRATING over shots of tribesman exploring in the year 17,000 B.C. I swear to all that is holy, the next film series I do better not open with narration or am I going to freaking lose it. They discover a giant ship filled with Tribal looking Transformers as we cut to present day in Shanghai, China. Okay, THAT was a pointless opening. What's the over/under on China being presented as positively as humanly possible to the point where it's just nonstop pandering? 

There's apparently been a toxic waste spill at a local factory as we see the Pentagon monitoring the situation closely from a building called NEST Command. An Autobot in the form of an ice cream truck drives along the factory- correction, an Autobot in the form of a CLASSY ice cream truck because Michael Bay is all about the maturity- as it says “DECEPTICONS SUCK MY POPSICLE” on the side.

Optimus tells us new Autobots have arrived on Earth and formed an alliance with the humans to take out Decepticons, working together in a secret squad called NEST (the Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty), which also includes American soldiers Lennox and Epps from the first movie.  The toxic spill is just a cover story, as NEST has tracked a Decepticon that's hiding inside the factory. Joke's on them though, it's actually a gigantic machine outside the factory that starts jacking everyone up. I'd talk about how I can't even tell what the Decepticon is supposed to be, but that's just redundant at this point.

They detect another Decepticon nearby, dispatching... ARCEE to take him down?! Holy shit they actually put Arcee in this thing and she's not overly sexualized?!? She takes the form of three motorcycles with holographic riders that all look like Megan Fox, because this is Transformers and all females must look like Megan Fox.

The ice cream truck joins Arcee in the pursuit of the Decepticon as we FINALLY get a real Michael Bay chase scene in a Transformers movie: loud, fast, and as smashy as possible. The ice cream truck is revealed to be TWO Autobots in one, Sirs Skids and Mudflap, whom I'm sure we'll be talking about in great detail later. An Autobot named Sideswipe gets involved, slicing the Decepticon in half with a blade in a shot that is every bit as awesome as it sounds. Bay thankfully slowed down the footage so we could actually tell what was happening for this part, so kudos all around to this entire scene.

We go back to the first Decepticon, a titan named Demolisher, trying to escape the city despite the fact he's about as BIG as a city. Optimus shows up to show these rookies how it's done, and it is WONDERFUL! There's still the problem or being able to tell where the robots begin and end, but it's done wide angle and with very few jump cuts so we can follow all of this. We haven't even passed the ten minute mark and the film is LITERALLY better than all the action scenes from the first movie COMBINED.  Optimus takes down Demolisher, asking if he has any last words. The Decepticon warns that “the Fallen” shall rise again and then Optimus FUCKING EXECUTES HIM WITH A HEADSHOT. And just like that, everything goes wrong.

Something I didn't talk about in the first movie was all the killing, probably because I was so bored by Sam's parents and the hackers subplot that I was starving for any kind of activity that I didn't even notice what was actually going on. Killing is NOT the way of the Autobots, they were heroes who always found a better way. Yes I know it was a half hour commercial disguised as a cartoon and they would NEVER kill anyone off because that would harm sales of that toy, but it was also a SMARTLY written cartoon that became bigger than its premise and grew into an actual story that is still beloved decades later.

But not anymore, we are now in the Dark Age of cinema where every hero is a grim and gritty ANTI-hero who kills at the drop of a hat lest they suffer the minor inconvenience of having to deal with their antagonist in any kind of intellectual way. It's very disheartening to me to see a movie that IN THEORY is for kids featuring our heroes brutally killing right and left, even worse in extremely graphic detail because they're “only robots”. It's easy to call out the pee and sex jokes in these movies, but the REAL immaturity comes from scenes exactly like this. “Optimus Prime isn't acting like a real hero at all, but BRO DID YOU SEE THAT EXPLOSION?!”.

Right, so back to the movie where we see Sam Witwicky moving out of his house to head to college. His... parents are present and getting screen time. His... parents are present. HIS FUCKING PARENTS ARE STILL IN THE SERIES?! That is just fantastic, juuuuuust fantastic. Sam's mom cries over her son leaving, her Godawful performance SO BAD that it makes her role in the first movie almost look good. Almost.

Sam's dad starts to give a heartfelt speech about how proud he is of his son going to college, BUT Bay can't have any kind of real emotion in this film so he cuts to two dogs fucking on the couch. FUCKING DEFEND THIS TO ME TRANSFORMERS FANS, I DARE YOU! “Oh, two dogs having sex is funny!”. Yeah, if you're five years old. Actually, I apologize as that is actually insulting to five year olds. Let's keep the Bay-isms going. What's Mikaela up to these days? Ah there she is, hanging out in her father's mechanic shop in the shortest shorts possible.

How progressive of her. Once again I must compliment Bay for his restraint here, because he literally didn't shove the camera up her ass. This is his greatest movie ever so far! Mikaela calls Sam as we learn they're still dating despite having the chemistry of... well, any romantically involved couple from a Michael Bay movie.

Sam goes through his clothes, as he kept his outfit from the first movie. A shard of the All Spark falls out, zapping his brain and causing him to drop it on the floor. It burns through the floor and falls into the kitchen, where it makes all the appliances come to life. Chaos starts breaking out, but not before Bay cuts to a shot of the dogs fucking AGAIN because that is so insanely crucial to this movie.

The kitchen robots start attacking the Witwickys, but unfortunately don't kill Sam's parents because Bumblebee shows up to save the day. I guess I have to be content with Sam's mom running into a hanging flower pot and knocking herself out, because physical comedy ripped off from every Adam Sandler and Kevin James movie ever is FUCKING HILARIOUS.

I'm honestly not sure what happens next. I can only assume Sam is pissed off at Bumblebee for saving the lives of his parents, so he angrily yells at him to go away. Oh, Bumblebee can't talk anymore either for some reason. Sam finds the shard in the kitchen and gives it to Mikaela for safe keeping instead of Bumblebee... what is going on right now?! I am so lost. This is all cut with scenes of Sam's mom and her WACKY ANTICS which are so funny and profound I can barely breathe. She also says “shit” a lot because KIDS LOVE PROFANITY!

Bumblebee goes into the garage to sulk because Sam yelled at him FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER, Sam following him in while Mikaela hangs outside and... starts taking her clothes off. Why even bother trying to pretend this is a movie, Bay? Why not just show two hours of this?

Sam tries to tell Bumblebee it's time for him to go back to Optimus, but Bumblebee just makes sad puppy dog eyes and then starts CRYING. Like, literally. Mikaela is waiting outside for Sam, having stripped down to a white summer dress as his going away present because skintight leather isn't good enough for her man. We are then treated to a HIGHLY INNOVATIVE scene where Sam can't tell her that he loves her because the dreaded “L-word” is just impossible to say for a man in a movie.

That's not even what REALLY annoys me about this scene though, rather Bay thought it would be awesome to spin the camera around the actors the entire time while throwing every lens flare he could find into the shot. If you've been reading my previous reviews then you know how much I freaking love lens flares Also, you can totally see the shadow of a camera on Sam's shirt. It is really shocking how sloppy these movies are for a Michael Bay production, and I'm being completely serious about that.

Mikaela puts back on her leather suit and gets ready to leave, secretly being monitored by a tiny Decepticon named Wheelie- wait, they made Wheelie a Decepticon? Wheelie was an annoyingly cute Autobot from the original series who actually inspired my little Transformers rhyme at the beginning of this review. Now he's a bad guy?

Evil Wheelie relays the fact that Mikaela's carrying the Shard of the All Spark via transmission to a satellite in outer space. That satellite? MOTHERFUCKING SOUNDWAVE! That design choice I'm totally okay with, it's logical and is a great modern update for such an awesome character. They even got his original voice actor, the legendary Frank Welker, to provide his kick ass voice. They did slightly botch this though, as in the cartoon Welker used a vocoder (a voice modulator) to make his voice sound hollow and metallic. The movie chose not to do that, so he sounds EXACTLY like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. Whatever though, still awesome.

We go to the NEST base, where our heroes return after their adventure in China. Skids and Mudflap get to upgrade their form from a shared ice cream truck to individual Chevrolet concept cars. Still too early to talk about them, but they sure like using their “street” lingo to such an extreme it makes Jazz from the first film look dignified and understated.

Director Theodore Galloway, the President's adviser on matters of National Security arrives and he is ticked over the handling of the Shanghai mission. Lennox gives his report to his higher ups via satellite feed, which we see Soundwave up in space hack into and monitor. Optimus goes to add his two cents, as we see Epps and Galloway look at the Autobot in awe. Epps wonders if God made man in His image, then who made Optimus? Um, the All Spark. Weren't you paying attention the first movie? I mean, I can COMPLETELY understand if you weren't, but still... you did co-star in it.

Optimus expresses his concern over “the Fallen”, having no idea what it is as all recorded history of their race was sealed in the All Spark, which is probably one of the stupidest lines I've EVER heard in a movie. They're freaking ROBOTS with mechanical brains! They seriously didn't upload their history into their own memory banks, but instead kept it in a gigantic metallic cube?

This is Galloway's cue to butt in, as naturally he's the Asshole Government Official Who Doesn't Trust The Strangers Cos They Ain't 'Murican! You KNOW he's a complete fucking monster because he has the audacity to TALK DOWN to the soldiers who stick up for the Autobots, which is an ABSOLUTE no-no in a Bay movie. Galloway goes on to talk about the location of Megatron and the piece of the All Spark Optimus saved at the end of the first movie, which is rather welcome information to Soundwave. Good thing Galloway loves his exposition, or we wouldn't have had a movie!

That was WAY too much Transformers though, lest we think this is actually a Transformers movie so we better see what Sam's parents are doing! They're dropping Sam off at his college and still getting lines, THANK CHRIST!

Sam meets his roommate Leo, who is a tech geek and is 110% annoying with his “hip and cool” way of talking. He runs a website with two of his friends devoted to exposing the truth about the Transformers because OF COURSE Sam would get paired with someone like that. Leo tells Sam not to “suck the ball sack” of the media and goddamn the list of people I hope die horribly in this movie is getting long. Leo also expresses hatred for his online rival “Robo-Warrior”, who is also in the business of trying to expose the robots to the world.

Oh, and speaking of people I hope get chainsaws rammed up their asses while being force fed acid, here's Sam's parents again! Sam's mom bought some pot brownies from a guy outside, and she's too stupid to know what that means as she devours them. Oh ho buckle down folks, this is gonna get SILLY!

She goes outside and starts telling everyone about her son, including how she overheard him when he LOST HIS VIRGINITY. ZOMG that is like so totes embarrassing for Sam... and EVERYONE that paid actual money to watch this. She's not done though, she crashes a nearby Frisbee game and TACKLES one of the guys cos that's what you do when you're high. I just want you to know if you think Sam's mom is funny, I am INSTANTLY judging you and looking down on you. And I don't even KNOW you. 

Soundwave dispatches his ally Ravage to Earth, where he breaks into the base where the Shard is being held. He pukes a bunch of silver ball bearings down a vent, which transform into hundreds of ultra tiny Decepticons which then transform into a flying insectoid like Transformer. Huh... if the Decepticons have such intricate technology why did they EVER have a problem getting into America's data network in the first movie? The insect easily steals the Shard and escapes topside with Ravage.

Well, I say escape but that's overselling it. He EMERGES topside where Ravage is waiting, as they break out into a fire fight with the soldiers guarding the base. However this is boring, so the film cuts to Sam and his new friends going to a frat party.

Sam says he can't stay very long as he has a “web cam date” with Mikaela, and I want to point out something else that's really annoying in this movie. The first time we see Mikaela's ass and then Mikaela herself the film plays Green Day's “21 Guns” in the background. When Sam first enters his dorm, “21 Guns” is playing. When we see Mikaela sitting in front of her laptop waiting for Sam to call, “21 Guns” is playing. Did all of the movie's soundtrack budget get co-opted to pay more writers to write Sam's mom's HILAROUS scenes, or did Green Day fucking sponsor this movie or something?

Gosh, I sure hope Sam doesn't get caught up partying and forgets to call her cos that would totes hurt her feelings and make her sad! Shockingly, instead of partying Sam starts seeing Transformer symbols in the air and starts drawing them in a trance. A hot blonde woman the movie has gone out of its way to point out to us asks if he's okay, breaking his spell. She then proceeds to give him a lap dance because this is a Michael Bay movie and that's how ALL women act, right?

The fun is broken by a guy screaming there's a yellow Camaro out on the front lawn, Sam running out to find Bumblebee parked with his alarms going off. The resident Frat Douchebags come out to harass him, as freshmen aren't allowed to own cars in this school. Is that a thing? I'm not going to look it up because every second I spend researching something is another second longer I have to deal with this movie. This leads to a BIZARRE exchange where Sam says the car belongs to a friend who left to find the Frat Douchebag's a “tighter shirt”. One replies “There isn't a tighter shirt! We checked.” and then fist bumps one of his bros. What?

Sam gets in his car to drive off, the blonde hopping in too because she “loves Camaros”. This does lead to an ACTUAL funny bit where Bumblebee starts playing songs about the woman such as “Your Cheatin' Heart” and Rick James's “Superfreak”. Bumblebee then smashes her head into the dashboard and sprays her with antifreeze, which finally prompts her to get out of the car and storm off.

Bumblebee takes Sam to a... graveyard where he meets with Optimus, who tells Sam the news about the stolen Shard. Optimus asks him to go to the government and convince them the Autobots can be trusted, because if there's one thing the government does is listen to teenagers! Sam isn't receptive to this idea, because all he wants is a normal life and really wants nothing to do with the Transformers anymore. Because what teenager would want anything to do with a bunch of giant ass kicking robots?

This is also another GIANT misstep the movie makes. This scene, combined with the way Sam was treating Bumblebee earlier, really really REALLY makes him look like a complete asshole. The first film did, with what even I'll admit in a very convincing fashion, establish how much Sam cared about the Transformers. Now he's just bored and dismissive of them? I suppose you could make the case he's just a shallow teen who doesn't realize how important friends are yet, but that's giving this script WAY too much credit.

The Decepticons journey to Megatron's resting place in the Laurentian Abyss, where they use the Shard to bring their leader back to life. This part is stupid because five Decepticons go into the trench, killing one of their own and using his parts to help restore Megatron. On the impossible chance you're Michael Bay reading this, that means there's FOUR Decepticons left PLUS Megatron which equals FIVE. But then the next shot SIX Decepticons are tracked by the military coming out of the water. OOPS!

Megatron emerges from the ocean and flies into outer space, landing on the Decepticon base which is located on one of Saturn's moons. We see their base is the same ship from the very beginning of the movie. He finds Starscream there, immediately ripping into the jet Decepticon for leaving him to die on Earth. At least the film got the Megatron/Starscream rivalry from the cartoon in here, which might be the only thing they carried over besides names and a few of the forms.

Starscream says he left to build a new army as commanded by the Fallen. Wait, Megatron isn't in charge of this whole thing? Guess not, as we see him answering to the one of the Tribal looking robots that we also saw in the beginning about his failure to secure the All Spark. The Fallen tells Megatron the All Spark's knowledge has not been lost, but instead has been absorbed by Sam. They better reveal the Fallen is somehow bound to the cube or this latest bout of Transformers knowing shit they possibly COULDN'T know is really going to piss me off. I can't get too angry though, because the Fallen is voiced by one of the all time favourite actors of A Ghoul Versus, Mr. Tony Todd! Achievement Unlocked: played the Big Bad in one of the biggest summer blockbusters of all time!

The Fallen must LOVE the sound of his own voice, because he begins telling Megatron things he would already know. Good thing we're around to here it at least, or we wouldn't know his master plan! The Fallen longs to return to Earth where he was betrayed by the rest of his brothers, called the Primes. He also helpfully adds ONLY a Prime can defeat him, which seems like WAY too much information but I'm guessing they're setting this up so Starscream can betray Megatron to the Autobots with this crucial weakness.