Saturday, June 27, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen


Well, just for a change I got to see a really cool movie just a few days after its release (here in Australia anyway), and on what touts itself as the biggest screen in Brisbane; which, by the way, is smaller than the biggest screen in Dunedin, New Zealand. So, take that, Brisbane!

Anyway, it turns out (SPOILERS!) that Megatron isn't the real big cheese after all, but there's this creepy megalomaniac dude, lurking somewhere in a giant ship near Saturn, who's really got it in for the 'Primes', of which Optimus is the last. He's also got it in for Earth and humans and all that fleshy stuff. And, yes, he's pissed, and supported by a major phalanx of Decepticons.

The mythology is getting way out of hand, but who cares! As long it supports yet another very cool flick, with lots of real big robots talking and walking like humans and talking smack, but fighting like robots with huge bits and pieces flying here and there and always missing the good guys; a cool basic-hero-this-is-your-destiny dude wisecracking and bumbling, but ultimately being a hero, his way through the story; a sultry female providing him with a foil and more than just support, but almost managing 'equality'; a crack team of our Ranger buddies from the first movie really laying it on this time; some major military hardware being terminally damaged, while other hardware does its America-saves-the-world stuff...all that and the product-placement car—though I do prefer the old, original Camaro from the first movie. Shame on you, Megan Fox, for sitting on Shia's lap and forever taking the original Bumblebee out of the equation with your "If he's like, this super-advanced robot, why does he transform into this piece-of-crap Camaro?"

Friends of ours had an issue with the first movie, where they thought they spotted—correctly—lots of US military hardware and just generally America-saves-the-world. Well, if they had a problem there, they certainly will this time; tenfold. But should that spoil a perfectly good fun movie; or should all that product placement divert from just enjoying oneself? On the contrary I say. Verisimilitude demands that one is true to what is. There was a brief reference to evacuating 'President Obama' from the White House to some place of safety as well; and the National Security advisor and his presidentially imposed mission was just the kind of thing I wold have expected from an Obama flunkie. Just like the previous president, in the first Transformer flick, was depicted as a bit of an asshole, in that immortal line, requested from one of his attendants on Air Force One to "rustle me up sone Ding Dongs". You gotta love Michael Bay. He's on good terms with the US Mil and obviously thinks highly of them, and especially the people who do the real work—reminds me of Ridley Scott that way—but I think his opinion of politicians is somewhere at the bottom of an aircraft carrier's bilge. Well, mine's even lower; so good on ya, Michael!

Anyway, if a movie is about the present and if you can get money for it by creating a context in which products that actually exist today are being used; what's wrong with that? It's verisimilitude, people; so stop bitching about it, those of you who do, and enjoy the ride, for chrissakes!

Bottom line, XF2 rocked. Haven't had so much just-fun since...well, since XF1, really. I take that back in the same breath: I thought Star Trek was also right up there in the super-geek-fun league, but it was definitely more adult. Movies like XF1 and XF2 will allow everybody, from 7 to 70, to have fun.

There's something—in my case not even 'guiltily'!—atavistically and profoundly pleasurable about just turning off all the bullshit plot and character analysis mode and what we are told we should think and what makes sense (the Transformers mythology makes none at all, but what mythology actually does, I ask!) and what is A and B and C grade and whatever other crap floats around in your head. It's like a mental holiday; no pressure to think this or that or whatnot; just go with the flow...and when you come out of the cinema and you drive back home, all the cars around you and every bit of machinery, really, start to look...well, kinda different. After the absolutely brilliant homage to Spielberg's classic, Gremlins, near the start of XF2, not even our kitchen will ever look the same to me.

If you don't enjoy XF2, you're either living in a very impoverished universe, or you're just emotionally...well, whatever; or there simply are some things in this world that you don't 'get' and possibly never will. Poor bastards...

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