Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie posterSynopsis
As Sam (Shia LeBouf) heads off to college, he is once again pulled into the Transformers’ war when an ancient being known as β€œThe Fallen” (Tony Todd) makes his return to Earth.

Review
After greatly enjoying Transformers, I was excited to see Optimus and the rest of the Autobots return in another live-action outing. With Michael Bay returning and his pension to go big, I was expecting much of the same but more of it in the sequel. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen definitely takes a sequel’s β€œgo bigger” approach to heart but the rest is left wanting.

As I said in my review of Transformers, the Transformers have had multiple cartoon series over the years since Generation 1 came out in the 1980s. Transformers pulled primarily from the original incarnation but something I really liked about this sequel is that is also pulls much from the later series as well. Things like Energon being a fuel for Transformers, Optimus Prime and Jetfire combining, the first Primes and The Fallen, and a transformer having multiple vehicle modes are all pulled from later Transformers cartoons. There is a rich history in the multiple series over the years and the film pulled from many of them that a fan of any Transformers series is sure to recognize something.

Taking place a couple years after the first film, many new Transformers have made their way to Earth and are introduced in this film. With the expanded robotic cast, not many of them are expanded on. Much like the original series, the movie only focuses on a handful of characters while the rest are there to look cool and show off the latest car models at the time. However, since the human characters are the most important in this story and most of the time is focused around them, I’m not too worried about learning everything about every Autobot and Decepticon that is in the film.

Like the first film, Revenge of the Fallen has a pretty lengthy run time. This time, however, the pacing feels more smooth. There are still plenty of explosions and much exposition but the transitions between the two wasn’t as jarring as the film before. However, it’s a catch-22 because more time is spent making sure the transitions feel better but with that comes a feeling that there is too much packed into this film.

I am not one to be turn away from a film because of toilet humor or if it goes for the easy joke. However, this film was very juvenile, even for me. I understand that this is based around a children’s show (something I have brought up before) but that’s no excuse to treat the audience like children.

I thought Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was OK 😐 After enjoying the first live-action Transformers film so much, I was disappointed in its sequel. While I liked aspects of this movie, there was so much excess of everything that it squandered what I did enjoy. I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece, but I wasn’t expecting such a let down either.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Ehren Kruger – Writer
Roberto Orci – Writer
Alex Kurtzman – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Shia LaBeouf – Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox – Mikaela Banes
Josh Duhamel – Major Lennox
Tyrese Gibson – USAF Chief Master Sergeant Epps
John Turturro – Simmons
Ramon Rodriguez – Leo Spitz
Kevin Dunn – Ron Witwicky
Julie White – Judy Witwicky
Isabel Lucas – Alice
John Benjamin Hickey – Galloway
Glen Morshower – General Morshower
Rain Wilson – Professor Colan
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
Jess Harnell – Ironhide (voice)
Robert Foxworth – Ratchet (voice)
Andre Sogluizzo – Sideswipe (voice)
Reno Wilson – Mudflap (voice)
Tom Kenny – Skids / Wheelie (voice)
Mark Ryan – Jetfire (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Megatron (voice)
Charlie Adler – Starscream (voice)
Frank Welker – Soundwave / Devastator / Reedman (voice)
Tony Todd – Fallen (voice)

Transformers Review

Transformers movie posterSynopsis
When Earth becomes a battleground between two factions of a warring alien race, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) must help Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and his team of Autobots defeat the evil Megatron (Hugo Weaving) and his Decepticon forces.

Review
The original 1980s Transformers cartoon (often referred to as Generation 1 or G1) was a cornerstone of many childhoods for those who grew up at that time. Over the years, many iterations of characters such as Optimus Prime, Megatron, and the rest of the Autobots and Decepticons have made their way to the hearts of many other generations of children, including myself. I remember being extremely excited when a live-action Transformers film was announced. I enjoyed Transformers back in 2007 and still enjoy it today.

Before I get started, I want to say that yes, Transformers is far from perfect. But remember, this is based on a children’s show, which itself was driven by the Transformers toy line. The Generation 1 series in particular was wild and all over the place in terms of characters and story. Could the story have been created in a way that honored the original 1980s series but still felt updated? Absolutely. But with Michael Bay at the helm, that most likely wasn’t going to happen. There is also plenty of corny dialogue that would make anyone who considers themselves highbrow would scoff at. However, taking it for what it is, this is an enjoyable film for a laid back afternoon.

With Bay directing, you can expect lot of explosions and big action pieces. Given this movie stars giant talking battling robots, β€œbig action” is an understatement. As the characters trek across different landscapes throughout the world, each action scene presents its own unique action piece. My biggest gripe against many of the action sequences is it can be hard to always see everything happening in the fight. Often, the camera will zoom close to the characters while they are brawling. Since many of them look similar up close it can be hard to discern what exactly is going on. These robotic beings are stories tall so it would be cool to see the scale of their battles compared to the buildings around them.

There is plenty of humor throughout the film. Something I have found after multiple viewings (I’ve lost track how many times I’ve seen this film) is that it doesn’t necessarily hold up. Some jokes still make me chuckle but most barely get a reaction out of me now. The movie is nowhere near as funny to me as it used to be. Thankfully this is an action movie, not a comedy, so the humor not holding up isn’t as big of a concern of mine.

While the cast is fairly large, there were a few stand outs. Firstly, is Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Ron and Judy Witwicky respectively. Whether together or individually, Dunn and White brought so many laughs and bring a bit of groundedness to a movie filled with building-size fighting robots. The other stand out performance was from the always humorous John Turturro. His over-the-top performance fits right in with the goofy nature of the film.

Peter Cullen is the voice of Optimus Prime in the Generation 1 Transformers television series. His return to the role in the live-action version of the character is a huge and rewarding bit of fan service. Hearing Cullen’s booming voice on the big screen feels right. Hugo Weaving voices Megatron and is a perfect fit for the character. It would have been great to see Frank Welker, the voice of Generation 1 Megatron, reprise his role but if he had kept the same voice as the cartoon counterpart, it would not have worked for this version of the character. Luckily, Weaving did a fantastic job bringing Megatron’s malice to the live-action iteration of the character.

Since this was assumed to be the start of a franchise, Transformers actually did a good job of keeping the story small and contained, building the world of Transformers. There were times where the exposition felt heavy but it also balanced well with the action and the rest of the film. Although that leads into my biggest complaint of the film: its length. At almost two and a half hours (including the end credits), it just feels like there is too much of everything; too much exposition and too much time spent in the action scenes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of action pieces in an action movie. Here, however, the scenes overstay their welcome.

I thought Transformers was GREAT πŸ˜€ This isn’t a deep piece of cinema but it does exactly what it set out to do: introduce the Transformers and their universe to the big screen. As long as you take this film for what it is supposed to be, popcorn entertainment based on a children’s show with very little plot, then you will find a lot to enjoy and maybe even having a good time.

Trivia
The military provided their vehicles as the alternate modes of the Decepticons Starscream and Bonecrusher. They also allowed their F-22 and CV-22 aircraft to be filmed[.] Soldiers served as extras, and authentic uniforms were provided for the actors. In return for the favor, the filmmakers provided an advance screening of the film to the soldiers, free of charge. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Robert Orci – Screenplay / Story
Alex Kurtzman – Screenplay / Story
John Rogers – Story
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Shia LaBeouf – Sam Witwicky
Megan Fox – Mikaela Banes
Josh Duhmel – Captain Lennox
Tyrese Gibson – USAF Tech Sergeant Epps
Rachael Taylor – Maggie Madsen
Anthony Anderson – Glen Whitmann
Jon Voight – Defense Secretary John Keller
John Turturro – Agent Simmons
Michael O’Neill – Tom Banacheck
Kevin Dunn – Ron Witwicky
Julie White – Judy Witwicky
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
Darius McCrary – Jazz (voice)
Robert Foxworth – Ratchet (voice)
Jess Harnell – Ironhide / Barricade (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Megatron (voice)
Charlie Adler – Starscream (voice)
Jim Wood – Bonecrusher (voice)
Reno Wilson – Frenzy (voice)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Review

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) movie posterSynopsis
Four turtles, Leonardo (Pete Ploszek), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher), and Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and their master, a rat named Splinter (Danny Woodburn), were mutated by a mysterious experiment. Fifteen years later, the four brothers must protect New York City from the Foot Clan, led by Shredder (Tohoru Masamune).

Review
I was in an interesting place growing up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because I had not one but two series I could call mine. I was at the tail end of the original cartoon that started in the 1980s, plus there was another series in the early 2000s that I also watched. One thing that I have always enjoyed about the TMNT franchise as a whole is that each generation has their own incarnation and each one is different. So having seen a few different versions of the characters, I was looking forward to seeing this interpretation.

In every new version of the turtles, it is very important that the familial relationship between the turtles and their various personalities are correctly translated. That might be what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does best. Each of the turtles’ personalities are exactly what is to be expected from them. I don’t want to go into what makes them such great characters and why I like them so much because of their dynamic, so as long as you understand the turtles were faithfully portrayed here then we’re good.

I really liked the look of the turtles. In most incarnations, the main visual distinction between the four brothers have been the colors of their masks, if they weren’t holding their weapons. Here, each of them have something unique about them that fit into their personality, such as Donatello’s goggles, Michelangelo’s surfer-shell necklaces and Raphael’s bandanna. Even their physical appearances differed slightly. It may not be much but these small differences were a nice touch that really made them stand out from previous versions of the characters.

Throughout the movie, I was having a hard time telling if it was trying to be serious or playful. It did poked fun at itself several times. I mean, the series has always had a ridiculous premise anyway and is pretty much a spoof. But hey, that’s comics. For the most part, it did well to understand that and never became overly serious. There were times it felt like it was trying to show a serious side but those moments didn’t last too long and it moved on before it embarrassed itself.

Although the film was around an hour and forty-five minutes long, it felt like it moved quickly and not necessarily in a good way. You can feel Michael Bay’s influence, for better or worse. The movie mostly follows April O’Neil (Megan Fox) but quickly introduces us to the titular turtles, then is followed by one action piece after another. It doesn’t take any time to establish the villains, other than letting the audience they are tough.

There are two villains in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder and Eric Sacks. Most of the time spent with the villains is spent with Sacks, mostly because he has a personal connection to April. This left Shredder relegated to being the muscle. Shredder isn’t supposed to be simply the muscle. He is supposed to be the one giving orders, not taking them. He is briefly seen outside of his suit (which is pretty cool by the way) early on then after that he is only in the suit. As much as this film seemed to get the turtles right, it really dropped the ball on the franchise’s most iconic bad guy.

I thought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was GOOD :-). Although Shredder was lacking, the rest of the main characters from the TMNT mythos were portrayed well. Despite the normal run time, it still feels rushed, sacrificing development for any character who wasn’t one of the turtles for action. I still had fun but I couldn’t help think there was missed potential to be a great film.

Favorite Quote
April O’Neil: What are you?
Leonardo: Well, miss, we’re ninjas.
Raphael: We’re mutants.
Donatello: Technically, we’re turtles.
Michelangelo: Oh, and we’re teenagers. But we can still have adult conversations.
April: You’re… Ninja Mutant Turtle Teenagers?
Donatello: Well when you put it like that it sounds ridiculous.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jonathan Liebesman – Director
Josh Applebaum – Writer
Andre Nemec – Writer
Evan Daugherty – Writer
Bryan Tyler – Composer

Megan Fox – April O’Neil
Will Arnett – Vernon Fenwick
William Fichtner – Eric Sacks
Pete Ploszek – Leonardo
Johnny Knoxville – Leonardo (voice)
Alan Ritchson – Raphael
Noel Fisher – Michelangelo
Jeremy Howard – Donatello
Danny Woodburn – Splinter
Tony Shalhoub – Splinter (voice)
Tohoru Masamune – Shredder
Whoopi Goldberg – Bernadette Thompson
Minae Noji – Karai
Abby Elliott – Taylor
Paul Fitzgerald – Dr. O’Neil
Malina Weissman – Young April O’Neil

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Trailer #2

Official Synopsis: The city needs heroes. Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.

So after about a month there is a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles trailer.Β  Most of it should look familiar if you have watched the first trailer since the beginning and ending are pretty much identical.Β  However, the middle is fairly different.Β  We get close ups of all the turtles.Β  I do like how each one has a slightly different appearance, rather than just having different colored bandanas.Β  I’m still not completely sold on their look, but I’m willing to give it a shot.Β  Towards the beginning of the trailer there are some good shots of the Foot ninjas, too. As for Splinter and the Shredder, we only see their silhouettes.Β  I’ll admit that I’m excited to see this new adaptation of the turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fights its way into theaters August 8, 2014.Β  Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, it stars Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Tony Shalhoub, Will Arnett, Alan Ritchson, Whoopi Goldberg, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, and Pete Ploszek.