This weekend, I endured the latest travesty based on toys/cartoons from my childhood, Transformers, named with the ironically foreboding subtitle "Revenge of the Fallen."
As many of you know, I was not a huge fan of the first live-action Transformers film because of its lack of continuity from beginning to end. It had a few moments of camp and comic relief to break up the stiff CG action and preachy Optimus Prime monologues. It was, by no means, a great film but it was not torture to watch.
The sequel, much to my dismay, was.
A sequel should build on its predecessor, improve its formulas and deepen its world. It should inform us more about the motivations of the characters and advance the overall story arc while encasing its own mini-arc. It should make us care more.
Revenge did none of these things. It was a pure camp-fest from beginning to end, switching around the formula from the first film by using bursts of action to break up its stiff campy sequences. The characters were flat, annoying, ridiculous (some of them to the point of being obvious plot devices with no relevance to the actual story), and utterly forgettable.
Take, for example, the multiple scenes where the Witwicky's dogs are humping each other. Far past mere offense, as that type of gratuitous physical exploitation of animals matters little to me, I was appalled at the purported necessity of those scenes. What purpose do they have, other than to flesh out Sam's parents further as bumbling morons (which the first film did quite well with considerably more subtlety)?
Or the "reliving The Matrix" moment where the words "I Love You" are conveniently utilized to bring a certain special someone back to life? I'm not kidding.
As I've surmised, the first Transformers film was no instant classic, but this sequel rates among the worst of action films. Compare it to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Compare it to The Punisher (any of them).
As I was suffering through the film, I came to realize the purpose for all its camp and whimsicality: it is a kid's movie. Despite the numerous explosions, adult situations, drug interaction, and few-and-far-between swear words, this is a movie aimed directly at those still "young at heart" or, actually, young. Somewhat like the writers and director abandoned any hope of making a serious action movie based on a children's cartoon from over 20 years ago. As if our special effects have improved greatly, but our level of maturity has not.
This is the way I feel any time an action film aims for a PG-13 rating rather than R. It's purely a nudity and f-word based rating system, the complexity of the story and foibles of the characters make absolutely no difference to which age group watches it. Apparently, we just enjoy seeing explosions and couldn't care less about the rest. No doubt Revenge will rake in
Sometimes I feel like the only one who notices the film industry avoids treating people like adults as if that were the plague. Arbitrary standards build a wall to keep me from being entertained, yet seem to fuel everyone else. Entertainment has no true value, and is completely subjective, though.
I came to the conclusion, walking out of the theater, that the film was just supposed to entertain me. In this regard, Revenge completely and utterly failed in its intended purpose. So, I figured to respond in kind -- rather than reviewing it, I am just bashing it.
I can recommend no part of this movie to anyone, for any reason. This "franchise" has become commercialism at its best, attempting to appeal to any and every demographic it can get the attention of, and alienating people like me who once gave a shit about Transformers in the first place.