It’s not that there is a shortage of opinions about any given movie (particularly this one), and it’s not that I have any special insight; I just want to make a point to ruminate on the images that flashed before me in hopes that I can learn from them. Hopefully I will be a better storyteller because of it.
Spoiler Alert! Enter at your own risk.
I went in to the theater having heard nothing but negative comments about the film. I do my best to avoid reviews or opinions about a film before I see it, but I ran across a couple tweets that spilled the beans…
I should probably mention that I thought the first film was terrible. So, between the negative reviews and my predisposition this sequel was fighting an uphill battle. Nevertheless, I fell for the hype and hoped that this movie could redeem its predecessor.
I’m happy to report that it was better than the original, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a “good” film. Here’s why…
The first half of the movie was unnecessary. It did nothing to propel the story, and there were virtually no callbacks to it. Basically, it seems like they just wanted to start with a bang by throwing in some unwarranted explosions and clashing metal. It would have been much more effective if there were any repercussions from the events that happened in the first 50 minutes of the film. As it is, I did not connect with it until Optimus Prime was killed. That was the defining moment that gave the story a sense of purpose. Everything before that was simply forgettable.
Secondly, I have an issue with the aesthetics of the film –both films, in fact. In my opinion, they over-designed the Transformers. There are too many extra parts and not enough distinction between them. Most of the action sequences were just a bunch of metal parts flying at each other with no sense of orientation. This not only generates confusion for the audience, but it also takes longer to design, animate, and render. I’m baffled that these transformers ever made it off the drawing board.
As for the special effects, I find myself simultaneously applauding and frowning upon the teams that worked on it. The compositing is remarkable! They seamlessly blended soooo much CGI with live action shots, and they did it very well! On the other hand they cheapened almost all animation that shows the transformation from vehicle to robot. This REALLY bugged me in the first film, and it was only slightly improved in the second iteration.
The problem stems once again from the design of the Transformers. You start with a car and then you end up with a robot as big as a house, but there is no visually logical explanation of how this happens. I have to see a slow, well-planned transformation before I can believe that the robot and the vehicle are one in the same. There is one shot in the film that comes close to this, but it still feels like they tried to hide a lot by directing the audiences attention elsewhere.
I really think the filmmakers were aiming for a target audience of 15 year-old boys. It’s laden with cheap, crude and sexual humor, the parents are portrayed as idiots, and Megan Fox’s character looks like she could have an orgasm at any given moment.
All in all, there’s a decent film tucked away in there. If the director would have been more ruthless in the editing room then he might actually have made a worthwhile movie. Instead, he weighed it down with needless and cliche scenes, hoping that the nostalgic value of the film would be enough to carry it across the line of financial success.