YAY! Big kid evening!! YAY! Movie in a theatre! YAY! IMAX!
Thanks to my wonderful friend, Kelly (who used to beta for me) the hubs and I escaped for some adult time last night and got to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I was asked to write up a review, though, truthfully, I'd been planning on doing so because... it's fun. :)
The first thing one must do when paying money to see any movie -- and I do mean ANY -- directed by Michael Bay is to check their reality meter at the door and be prepared to be blown away by a thrill-inducing mixture of CG effects, stunts, camera angels, and a body-thumping soundtrack. Add to that the IMAX experience and you are in movie nirvana.
Transformers: ROTF was a great time at the movies. I didn't go for plot, though I'm pretty sure there was one. I went to be entertained and was not disappointed. You know what cracks me up the most? The fact that a cartoon series and now two box-office successful movies have been created because of the success of a line of Hasbro toys. *laugh* I love the quirks of the human race.
And apparently, so do the Autobots. So let me see if I can make Michael Bay make sense.
This movie picks up two years after the end of the first. In exchange for their silence about their knowledge of the existence of the alien race, the Witwicky's have been promised that the government will take care of their expenses. Sam, played by the extremely engaging Shia LeBouf, is heading to college, leaving behind his ridiculously good-looking, mechanically-inclined girlfriend, Michaela, played by the ridiculously good-looking Megan Fox.
The hubs and I were talking about the first time we actually noticed Shia -- it was during the Damon-Affleck series, Project Greenlight. He was the main character in the movie The Battle of Shaker Heights. We agreed then that the kid had talent. Despite his youthful curls and why me pout, we couldn't stop watching him and rooting for him to succeed. I don't even remember what that movie was about, but I do remember him. When he was cast as Indiana Jones' prodigy in the 4th installment (was that last year? the year before?) I was excited because he'd been so great in Transformers that I thought he'd live up to Harrison Ford's fedora.
By the time ROTF rolled around, it was a given for me that Shia could pull in the crowd. And he was fantastic.
Megan Fox? Seriously, the girl is poke-yourself-in-the-eye pretty. And Bay knew enough to put that to use. There were several points when you could just sense his directions to her consisting of, "Pull your leg up on the back of the motorcycle, yeah, like that. There you go." *rolls eyes* I will say, though, that she pulled off the attitude and penache required to get through the trials of this movie rather well.
Sam's parents return and just like in the first movie, they were probably my favorite non-essential characters. Well, except for Jon Turturro's Agent Simmons and Sam's new roomate Leo. But I'll get there in a minute.
Sam's parents are moving Sam out for college while also packing for a month away in France and while his dad seems to be all-too eager to get the show on the road, his mom has come across Sam's baby booties and is falling apart all over the place at the thought of her baby leaving the nest. Poor women. Gave me a glimpse into myself sixteen years from now.
Before I go into the play-by-play, I think I should back up a bit and see if I can summarize the plot.
It seems that half a gazillion years ago, there weren't Decepticons and Autobots. There were only... whatever their race is called. I'm sure they said it, but I missed it. That was one of the cons of the show for me: I struggled with telling the difference between the Autobots and the Decepticons throughout the whole movie. Especially when they were fighting. It helped that for the most part, the Autobots had color on them. But I remember when the toys were out, my little brother had them and there were some that had this... thing where you could put your thumb on them and it would reveal which they were. Even then, without the box telling me which symbol resembled which... race? I wasn't sure what I was dealing with.
Anyway, there was only one robot race and they stayed alive by sucking the engery from the suns of planets (I think??) except they would skip over planets that had life. They found and landed on Earth, discovered prehistoric man, and then a civil war broke out among the robot race. If I understood it right, there were like... 5 "Prime" brothers and one went rogue (aka The Fallen) because he wanted to waste Earth and all her inhabitants so that they could harness the power of our sun. There was a big machine that could blow up the sun, only it didn't work without something called the Matrix of Leadership, and the remaining 4 Prime bros sacrificed themselves to create a tomb and protect the Matrix from The Fallen.
With me so far? Okay so, apparently since the time the robot race first came to Earth, on all kinds of symbols and alien-race writing has shown up on different things all over the world (pyramids, buildings, cave walls, etc.). And it was also etched on that All Spark cube thing from the first movie that was supposed to have been destroyed when Optimus Prime killed Megatron.
We find out pretty quickly, though, that the whole cube wasn't destroyed and that the remaining shard is encased in some glass thing protected by the military. Not only that, but they sunk Megatron in the Laurentian Abyss and then surrounded him with subs. Why they didn't just blow him to smithereens is beyond me. Silly military. One last thing: in the two years between movies, Josh Duhamel and Co have been fighting alongside the Autobots and have created a super-special-secret fighting unit called NEST.
Josh's Major Lennox is as tough and lovable as ever. That guy totally knows how to wear a uniform and he is seriously the epitome of "come with me if you want to live" crossed with "I will die beside my brother if that's what it takes." *is a fan*
Okay, so we're back to Sam packing for college, mom crying all over the place, dad trying to get everyone moving, Michaela on the phone with Sam explaining why she can't come with him (because, as she puts it, she has to help her man-child of an ex-con father who is literally just out of prison get back on his feet). While he's talking to Michaela, Sam grabs his hoodie from Movie #1 and shakes it. Out tumbles a sliver of the cube. Doh!
Curious, Sam leans down to pick it up and it... mind-melds with him and he sees a literal rush of these symbols. Shocked, he drops the sliver and it burns through his floor and down into the kitchen below. While Sam is busy freaking out about his floor being on fire, the sliver turns all of the kitchen appliances into robots. And don't think I didn't give my toaster a wary eye when I got up this morning. Chaos ensues and there is much hilarity as the appliances begin attacking the WitWicky's and I think that the parents (or at least the mom) somehow thought it was Bumblebee's fault (Sam's yellow Camero Autobot that has been hiding in his garage guarding him).
Anyway, midst the chaos, we get Sam telling Bee that he can't come with him to college and Michaela showing up and trying to convince Sam to tell her that he loves her for the first time before he leaves. *Gibb-slaps Sam* Seriously? After two years? Tsk tsk.
Meanwhile, a Decepticon is up in space molesting a military satellite. While Sam is heading to college, it is searching for the remaining shard of the cube. Sam gets to school -- and I've blanked on which school he's attending -- and while he's busy meeting his new roomate, Leo, who is a character and a half (he runs a website called therealeffingdeal.com for example), his mother contributes to the environment by buying--and eating--an entire bag of "special" brownies. She. Is. Hilarious. Her antics would totally be lost in translation, but it's not something Sam will be living down any time soon.
So we go back and forth for a bit between Lennox's military confrontations with thick-skulled politicians who think they know something about war (HA!), the shard getting stolen, Megatron being revived and returning to... actually, I'm not sure where he went, but he hooks up with The Fallen... and Sam missing his first webcam chat date with Michaela because of a tenacious blonde co-ed, getting picked up by Bumblebee and meeting Optimus in a cemetery just so that he can turn down the big semi-truck's plea for help.
I could have actually done without the whole master/apprentice scene with The Fallen and Megatron. Bay is known for over-the-top story telling, and I'm down with that... I just thought the whole thing with the two evil robot things a bit much. I get it. They're bad. Move on!
In a pretty hilarious, if not painful, scene in Sam's first astronomy class, he has a mental meltdown, reads a 130 page book in like 30 seconds, shows up the pompous, scarf-wearing professor (played awesomely by The Office's Rainn Wilson), and scrambles crazily out of the class trying in vain to keep hold of his copious amounts of papers while calling Michaela for help... who, meanwhile, has caught and trapped a Tonka truck turned Decepticon in a tool box.
Sam stumbles back to his room and starts to paint the symbols he can't stop seeing all over his room -- including (hilariously) on a Bad Boys II movie poster. Oh, Michael Bay, you silly, silly director. *grins* Michaela flys via Southwest Airlines with the Tonka truck monster to save Sam (I guess) and arrives just in time to see the sexy blonde that has been after Sam since his arrival -- and that his roomate Leo has been literally throwing himself at -- astride Sam, on his bed, with her tongue down his throat.
Turns out Sexy Blonde is actually a robot -- didn't know they could do that! -- who tries to strangle Sam to death.
In a major ruckus of running, hiding, screaming, scrambling and some very cute back-and-forth bantering between Sam and Michaela that just had me loving Sam all the more, the trio of Sam, Michaela, and Leo high-tail it from RoboGirl and end up getting grabbed by Megatron. Whoops. Turns out Sam has the location of the Matrix of Leadership burned on his brain and the Decepticons are not really all that picky about how they get it from him.
I'm a bit hazy here exactly how they get out of this mess, but the Autobots save them, Michaela and Leo in Bumblebee and Sam running for his life with Optimus fighting off every baddie that comes near him. It's a very duck-worthy battle, and when Sam screams "OPTIMUS!!!" with such fear and worry in his voice, I found myself applauding Shia. It's not every person that can convey such emotion toward a alien-robot that's actually... not even there.
Unfortunately, Optimus is killed in this battle. It's actually rather sad. I know, I know... alien robot. Still, he has a voice like James Earl Jones and a calm like Abraham Lincoln. You learn to love this guy! When the military brings his 'body' back and drop it to the tarmac, the look on Lennox's face tells the whole story: "Oh, dammit. He was the best of them. Now what do we do??"
Sam, Leo, and Michaela are taken by Bumblebee to some abondoned something... and Sam is pretty screwed up by what happened. You seriously want to hug him. Now, there are two mini-Cooper-looking Autobots with them that I really didn't see the need for, honestly. They were called The Twins and I think they were supposed to be there for comic relief, but the humans in the story provided that in spades. They were VERY un-PC and I really didn't find them funny. But, that's just me.
A world-wide hit goes out on Sam by the Decepticons and Leo is more than a little freaked out by this. He was adorable, really. Poor kid. Sam wants to turn himself in to, y'know, save all of mankind. But Michaela and Bumblebee -- who it seems developed a penchant for Tom Hanks' movies as that's all he seemed able to quote to convey his emotions -- convince him not to. Leo remembers the name of a computer guy that tried to usurp his website (I think...) and they decide to go ask him for help.
Turns out computer guy is none other than Agent Simmons who is living with his mother--correction, his mother is living with him--and has a huge storeroom of conspiracy theory and alien truth information hidden beneath the pork freezer of his family's deli.
Once Agent Simmons joins the fray hijinx ensue to an even greater extent and the already over-the-top-ness of the movie became infused with even more humor. I loved the interaction between Simmons and Leo. Those two were awesome. So, somewhat convoluted story short, the new 'gang' uses Michaela's Tonka toy to translate some of the intel in SImmons' files and they realize that they've had a robot hiding under their noses since God was a boy. They head to D.C. and, in what was probably the most hilarious part for me, break into the Smithsonian.
All I'm going to say? Leo and tazers do NOT mix. I literally laughed out loud when he attempted to tazer a guard, ended up tazering himself, and was then dragged off to safety by the arm.
They use the sliver of the cube that turned Sam into a walking alien Rand McNally and bring an SR-71 Blackbird to life. He was a Decepticon but turned Autobot when he, I guess, realized that the Decepticons were crazy. Not that he was far off that mark himself. He was like a robotic Blackbeard's Ghost. He gives the group the low-down on the history of the Matrix, Sam realizes that the Matrix could bring Optimus back to life (which they really have to do because, apparently, only a Prime can kill The Fallen), and somehow... the Blackbird swoops all of them to Egypt.
In the landing, though, Sam messes up his hand but good. I have a sneaking suspicion that Shia may have actually broken a couple of fingers that they had to work into the storyline because there were a couple of shots where I thought I saw flesh-colored braces hidden under the gauze (that Michaela must have been carrying in her bra??? because there was no room for medical supplies anywhere on her body).
Okay, so they're in Egypt, trying to figure out what to do next. Meanwhile, a Decepticon crashes Mom and Pop Witwicky's Paris vacation and kidnaps them. Yeah, I didn't get it either at first.
So now, The Fallen has risen (ha! I crack myself up), the Decepticons are coming to life all over the place, Sam has Simmons contact Lennox and tells him to get himself, his soldiers, and Optimus' body over to Egypt, and all hell is about to break loose. Lennox humorously gets rid of Annoying Political Man and the soldiers arrive in Egypt to set up base and find Sam while Sam and the gang figure out where the Prime tomb and Matrix of Leadership is. They get there, dig their way in and find the Matrix (which looks a bit like a Klingon weapon) only to have it disintegrate in Sam's hands.
However, Sam still believes that it will revive Optimus and he scoops up the magic dusts, intent on getting it to the big robot's body.
Then, the world explodes. Not literally, but with the amount of robot fighting and bombs falling and soldiers getting shots and running running running... it sure feels like it. The gang splits up with Sam and Michaela trying to get to Optimus while Simmons and Leo try to stop a Very Big Decepticon from destroying the pyramid that was built around the Weapon That Can Destroy The Sun. Simmons' "one man, alone, defending the country he loves, the country that betrayed him" speech is hilarious... especially when followed by Leo's hysterical scream of "you're not alone! I'm sitting! Right! Beside! You!"
Simmons uses the walkie-talkie from a downed helicopter to radio a nearby aircraft carrier and convinces the captain to fire missiles at his coordinates and blows up the Weapon That Can Destroy The Sun. His reaction is priceless.
There is a really touching moment when the Decepticon that kidnapped the Witwicky's drops them down in the middle of the melee and Sam finds them. He gets them out of harms way and insists that Bumblebee take them to safety. His dad doesn't want to leave him and Sam tells him that he has to let him go. It's a great juxtaposition between the dad's earlier eagerness to get Sam the hell out of there when they were trying to send him to college. The dad's "no, we'll all go together" plea seriously had me choking up. The only thing that stopped me from actually crying was Bumblebee showing up.
But, it's not impossible for me to cry in Michael Bay movies. I sobbed in Armegeddon when Harry shoved AJ into the lift and AJ screams, "Harry I love you! Don't do this!"
*ahem* Moving on.
Sam and Michaela are running for their lives, Lennox and his guys are trying their best to get them to Optimus in one piece. It's loud and tense and loud and action packed. They are pinned down and Sam knows their only choice is if he gets the magic dust to Optimus so he takes off.
And is blow ass over teakettle.
At first I was waiting for him to just get up again, but then you get this aerial view of him and his leg is bent in a really bad direction and the left side of his T-shirt is shredded, his arm and chest bloody and burnt and his face is a mess. I was like, omgodtheykilledhim. And in a truly emotional -- albiet reality-suspending moment -- Lennox calls for a medic and they apply the paddles (which, there were soldiers being killed all over the place and this kid gets paddles??) and Sam bucks with the current and then lays still and Michaela is going nuts crying and screaming Sam's name while a soldier holds her back and the shock Sam again and nothing and Bumblebee brings his parents and they shock him again and nothing and Lennox gets that same "Dammit! He was the best of them! Now what!" look on his face...
Michaela breaks away from the soldier holding her back and bends over Sam, pleading for him to come back to her, and tells him that she loves him. We slip into Sam's consciousness and see him standing tattered and torn facing the 'ghosts' of the 4 Prime brothers who tell him that the Matrix of Leadership can't be found, it has to be earned. Again, I implore you, suspend your belief in cohesive storyline, plot, and all things reality based for the sake of entertainment.
They tell him to join the Matrix with Optimus'... um, something, I don't remember that part... as he was always destined to do. And Sam wakes up with a jerk and a huge gasp for air and whispers over and over to Michaela that he loves her. Awwww. Then, with her help, he gets up, staggers through the firefight to Optimus, and slams the now-whole Matrix into Optimus' chest. Ta da!
Optimus gets up, but The Fallen attacks him and he isn't exactly in fight-condition. Oh, but Blackbird is there and sacrifices himself and his parts to make Optimus strong enough to fight -- and beat -- The Fallen. Megatron and some other Decepticon decide that the coward's exit is their best choice and with the ominous "this isn't over" parting words, they get out of there.
You have your standard post-major-battle happy ending with Sam and Michaela kissing, mom and dad dirty, disheveled, but happy, the whole lot of them riding back home from Egypt on an aircraft carrier (probably the same one Simmons talked to, but I'm not sure). Sam and Optimus have a moment at the edge of the deck staring out at the sea and then... fade to black.
So, yeah, it was insane, but most movies by Bay are. And if you know that going in, you are not disappointed. I adore Shia and am pleased to see him in more stuff. He is energy. And when he's low, you find yourself sinking. He's like everyone's little brother who grew up to be a hottie.
The drawback, really, is that it's hard to pin-point the audience for this. The alien-robot battles would totally thrill any pre-teen kid, but the non-PC humor and the language isn't what I'd want my pre-teen to see. The human interaction and banter is totally in line with what adults respond to, but the alien-robot angle is sometimes a bit much to swallow.
I guess, you just go to have fun and take everything with a grain of salt. :)