Paramount // 2009 // 149 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 26th, 2009
"I am directly below the enemy's scrotum!"
The biggest movie of the year -- and arguably, the most critically despised -- rolls onto Blu-ray with the subtlety of an exploding Star Destroyer.
It's been two years since the Autobots and Decepticons revealed themselves to a high school loser (Shia LaBeouf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) and the gorgeous girl (Megan Fox, Jennifer's Body) he somehow tricked into making out with him. Now, Optimus Prime and the rest of his well-meaning Transformers have teamed up with the U.S. Military to hunt down Decepticons and destroy them...along with as many densely populated city blocks as possible.
Little do they know, a hugely evil robot called "The Fallen" is hatching a plan to invade Earth, excavate a plot device, and use it to give himself limitless power, while also destroying the sun. The responsibility of saving the planet falls to our lovebird heroes, John Turtorro and his hairy groin, a pair of racially offensive sidekick robots, the magical guardians of Transformer Heaven, some resurrection fairy dust, an incontinent jet plan,e and the single largest suspension of disbelief ever harnessed in modern movie history.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is an objectively awful movie. There is no way around that fact. Its trespasses against cinematic sensibilities number in the quadrillions -- gratuitous dog leg-humping, comedy set-pieces which crater in embarrassing fashion, incoherent storytelling, bloated pacing, characters making moronic decisions (say you're an 18 year-old kid who happens to be dating a girl that looks like Megan Fox and you drive a Camaro that turns into an ass-kicking robot, why in the world would you leave all that behind for a liberal arts education???), confusing visual effects, oddly inappropriate humor (considering the target age demographic), pointless and nonsensical plot diversions (if the Decepticons have the technology to make human-looking cyborgs, why the @#$% are they running around as cranes and police cars?), fun-filled drug abuse, whiny secondary characters, and an inordinate amount of cleavage. Fine, that last one isn't necessarily a detriment, but it's a symptom of Michael Bay's complete abandonment of restraint.
This movie is a giant headache, it's 45 minutes too long (pro tip: cut the college scenes, tighten the desert siege, pitch the Autobot twins), and the vicious lambasting it has received is richly deserved...but I'm going to try my best to defend it.
For all of its shortcomings and all of the crap that I would have been happy to see place-kicked into orbit, I confess...I did not hate Transformers 2. Frankly, I'm not sure why it's so loathed. Yeah, it's overwrought junk, but the sights and sounds can be eye-popping and every dollar of that Dinobot-sized budget is visible onscreen. This thing feels like a live-action cartoon -- from Megatron and Starscream's bitching, to Optimus Prime's meandering platitudes -- and, you know, that makes sense because it's based on the animated Transformers I remember (and before you email me, no I don't remember close-ups of John Turtorro's junk in the cartoon either, but I already said this movie is moronic, so lay off).
The critical reaction seemed to characterize the film as some sort of malevolent force, as if it's a threat to the whole of cinema by its very existence and the fact it grossed an insane amount of money. Please. I very much doubt we'll see a rash of mega-budgeted alien sagas anytime soon and really who cares if dumbass popcorn action/scifi movies grow a tad more populous? (Again, in this economy, not happening, especially when you see the effectives you can achieve with a fraction of the effects budget in something like District 9.) We'll all have plenty of biopics, anti-war films, and deconstructions of the American suburban ideal to appease the latte-sipping douchebag that lies within.
All this to say, I liked the robots, the robot fighting, the explosions, the laser beams, and the awesome Army planes flying around shooting the fighting robots with missiles. That was enough for me. I didn't require anything deeper. Like a gluttonous kid on Halloween, I got plenty of eye and ear candy, had a decent time sucking it up, and felt a little nauseous after. Sue me.
Let me just cut right to it: this Blu-ray is A/V porn through and through. When I was sitting in the theatre watching the tomfoolery unspool before me, I couldn't help but wonder how much better all this would look in high-def. My instincts were proven correct. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Blu-ray) is a monster, scoring a visual presentation that blasts out ever ounce of Bay-hem in high-resolution splendor. The details on the robots are exquisite and the enhanced clarity makes the action scenes far less muddled. I still would have liked to see less-complicated robot designs, but on Blu the complexity of ILM's craftsmanship really springs to life. Plus, we get two reference-quality sequences: the very cool Optimus-centric fight scene in the woods, and the entire final showdown at the pyramids. There is so much happening, if you can fight through the migraine, you'll surely see stuff you missed during its theatrical run. The audio is top-shelf too, with an overwhelming DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio transmitting every nuance of explosive havoc and Steve Jablonsky's excellent score.
If you think two-and-a-half hours aren't enough time to spend ensconced in this world, Paramount has delivered a whole second disc of extras, supplementing a tame commentary from Michael Bay and his writers. We get an exhaustive two-hour-plus making-of documentary (in HD), chronicling nearly every aspect of this humongous affair, from the military cooperation and special effects, to the manic final days of shooting; an interactive hub packed with info on the Transformers who appeared in the film; visual effects comparison shots; three deleted scenes (there should have been a lot more); an entertaining behind-the-scenes montage; and a Blu-ray exclusive app called "The All-Spark Experiment" where you customize vehicles and turn them into robot messes.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a disjointed, noisy assault on the brain stem. I can't argue that. But I don't think it's the demonic force it's been made out to be. There's fun to be had, I just wish Michael Bay would have been more interested in hacking off the gristle. The Blu-ray is a technical monster.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Blu-ray) is given a round of
applause by the court, but the movie needs to hit the prison yard and whip
itself into shape.
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 149 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Interactive Game