Thoughts on Transformers 2 and Big-Budget Sequels


I’ve been wanting to see Transformers 2 since it was released, but noticed that every few days I watched the IMDB score, it would drop farther and farther down.

Checking out Metacritic was even more dissuading, with a 35% overall score. I couldn’t believe how bad this movie sounded. I read comment after comment about how the movie was nothing but “balls jokes”, or how immature the use of Megan Fox’s beauty was or how 1-trick-pony Shia LeBeouf was… fortunately my curiosity and desire to see big robots do battle got the better of me and I went and saw it, and here are my thoughts:

  1. I laughed for the first hour — Shia LeBouf is hilarious with his neurotic interactions with his parents, little spats with girlfriend Megan Fox or  delivery of 1-off snarky comments.  Whoever cast Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Shia’s parents was brilliant. The chemistry between the three of them is fantastically enjoyable and really a good fit as a family. As a side note, Julie White steals the spotlight as Shia’s neurotic mother for about 30mins of the movie and is absolutely fantastic at the roll — putting me close to tears twice.
  2. Well done special effects are awesome — I don’t know what it takes in Hollywood to do effects like these or if you have to have special relationships with the industry’s best animations or something but Bay delivers — big time. There is so much robot awesomeness going around this movie with explosions and scene-interactions that at no less than 6 epic scenes I found myself floored with “Jesus… how did they film this scene?!” It is really impressive to see the coordination of 50 extras mocking a battle with huge building set pieces blowing up and everything being choreographed such that when the CG transformers are added later, the entire scene is completely fluid.
  3. Story — For the die-hard Transformers fans out there, I have no idea how accurate this story is behind Transformers 2 (I won’t mention any details in case you haven’t seen it), but it drew me in pretty good. Only 1 or 2 parts struck me as pretty corny and the rest of it flowed with enough pace and accuracy that I had no qualms with it.
  4. Characters — They got rid of the ridiculously good looking hackers from #1, which I was thrilled about, and seemed to remove about 20% of the cheese that #1 had in it. I felt the characters in this one were much more realistic and enjoyable — obviously I’m not comparing these characters to Shawshank Redemption anytime soon, but for a big-budget robot action movie, I didn’t find myself trying to rake my eyes out of my head once — which is a good sign. I also like the new Agent Simmons — I hate him from the first movie because he was such a neurotic simpleton even though he was suppose to be the head of some clandestine Sector 7 group — in this one he plays his character much better and isn’t annoying at all — I actually enjoyed his comedic relief in the 2nd half of the movie quite a bit. I also liked the portrayal of the military more in this one. Typically sci-fi movies paint the military as bumbling idiots as a story mechanic to get around the impossibilities of hacking and breaking in, and it ends up annoying me how inept and unrealistic the military is usually made to look — casting of Glenn Morshower as a general in this helped bring a lot of cred to the military picture painted. It felt much easier to get into the story than in #1 where the military was more inept and incapable.

Overall I have no idea what movie critics want… This is exactly what happened with The Matrix (Reloaded and Revolutions) — the followups were bigger, badder and brought way more awesome to the table, but they get dinged in the reviews.

I loved the Matrix trilogy — the 2nd and 3rd movies were awesome. I really liked Transformers 2, better than #1, and think movie critics don’t know what they want out of these movies.


0 Responses to Thoughts on Transformers 2 and Big-Budget Sequels

  1. Patrick July 23, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Man I totally agree with you. I don’t understand how people justify saying that this movie is the worst of the year and how terrible it was. I don’t know what movie they were watching but their comments don’t seem to track with the one I saw.

  2. Riyad Kalla July 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Pat, I know that when I get carried away blogging, I start to get this bubble of self-importance around my head that expands as I feel like more and more people “need” to hear what I have to say… I think is what happens to these reviewers… they are so fancy and important and smart and intelligent, that they put on their Grey Poupon hats and just have to rip everything.

    Fuck that noise…

    The one series that ISN’T getting dinged with shit like this is Harry Potter… I haven’t seen complaints like “omg gay just big budget graphics and no story” — I guess that’s because you have the book crowd showing up to essentially see how good of a job they are doing at translating the story… actually that was the same with LOTR.

    So it looks like the way to avoid this is to just have a popular book series first, then do the movies… then people ignore the block buster aspects.

    … I should blog that… people NEED to read that!

    [bubble growing…]

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