Transformers movie defenders have always told me "you have to turn your brain off," but the closest I managed to get was to give my brain a set of pre-existing conditions.
Not being a fan of the first Transformers movie (likely due to my impossibly high expectations), I expected more of the same from the second one. I read every negative review, I followed every racism story and I hung on every reaction, and through all of this, I managed to lower my expectations to a level that I had until now thought impossible. Then I actually saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. And, having accepted that the plot would make no sense, and that most of the robots would not be given personalities, and that I was going to have to spend a lot of time at college with Shia LaBeouf, I actually found myself kinda enjoying it.
Transformers movie defenders have always told me "you have to turn your brain off," but the closest I managed to get was to give my brain a set of pre-existing conditions -- in this case, that Transformers movies are usually horrible. With this in mind, I was able to sit back and relax, and I can now objectively tell you the ten things that made Transformers: ROTFL better than its predecessor. Warning, spoilers abound!
1. Nobody Pees on John Turturro.
The most egregious slight in the first film was to have Bumblebee emulate a dog and urinate gasoline on Barton Fink, either because he thought it was acceptable behavior or because he thought it would be funny. (It was neither.) I am happy to report that, although he does at one point utter the line "I am standing directly beneath the enemy's scrotum," Mr. Turturro is not peed on by said enemy. Today is a fine day for John Turturro.
2. Transformers + Vikings = Awesome.
Much has been said of Jetfire, the old, crotchety Transformer, but his character is less that of a geriatric senior citizen and more like Gimli from Lord of the Rings or Campbell, the unstoppable, berzerker old Scotsman from Braveheart. With his scraggly tinfoil beard and the cane he brandishes like an axe, he's pretty much the giant robot equivalent of a Viking, and when he tears his own heart out at the end to give Optimus Prime the power to defeat the enemy, it's pretty badass.
3. Anthony Anderson is Nowhere in Sight
Serious Anthony Anderson is fine (K-ville, Law & Order). But goofy Anthony Anderson (Romeo Must Die, Transformers) is not fine. It is annoying as hell. Luckily, his character does not return in this movie.
4. Bring the Rainn
To make up for the loss of Anthony Anderson, Bay instead gives us Rainn Wilson in a brief role as a d-bagtastic astronomy professor. Trade up, or trade down? You be the judge, but I say trade up. I'm curious to see what was left on the cutting room floor, or if Wilson more or less stuck to the overly dramatic readings we saw on screen.
5. Finally, Soundwave!
If there's one Transformer everyone remembers from the old cartoon that's not Optimus, Bumblebee or Megatron, it's Megatron's badass lieutenant Soundwave. Sadly, his ability to turn into a mini-cassette player was no longer going to work in the mass-conserving movies, so they had to rejigger him, and he's awesome. He's now a satellite who hangs in orbit and coordinates communications between the Decepticons, and if he needs some information, he sneaks up behind an army satellite and infiltrates it. And while he doesn't eject mini cassettes, he still has smaller Transformers within him, including the panther Ravage, whom he sends to infiltrate an army base, and a razor-thin Insecticon made up of ball bearings, whom Ravage vomits into a ventilation shaft. It doesn't sound cool, but it totally is.
6. The Frat Boy Scene
While we do spend way too much time in this movie following Shia LaBeouf around campus, watching him blow off a video chat with MEGAN FOX to attend a frat party, it does give us one scene that's totally worth it. When two frat brothers ask him if the yellow Camaro parked in their bushes is his, Shia says it belongs to a friend, who went to see if he could find one of the brothers a tighter shirt. The tight-shirted brother in question says, "There are no tighter shirts." And the other brother says, "We already checked." There may have been a high-five between them at the end, but I can't remember, because I was too busy laughing. Funniest line of the movie, after the one about the enemy scrotum, which is funny for a completely different reason.
7. Devastator is Devastatingly Gutsy
Since the Transformers movies were first announced, Transfans have longed to see Devastator, the first combiner, who was made up of six different construction vehicles. And while they could have simply followed the lead of the cartoon's towering, poison-green Frankenstein's monster, the movie designers took a different tack, creating something entirely new and pretty darn incredible. Walking on all fours like an animal, sucking sand and cars into its churning maw, and climbing the great pyramids like a robotic King Kong on vacation, Devastator is totally new, totally unforgettable and totally has guts. And I'm kinda okay with that.
8. Sexiest Transformer Ever.
The concept of "Pretender" Transformers -- robots in a humanoid shell -- was relatively short-lived in the Transformers mythos, so when rumors started circulating that Aussie hottie Isabel Lucas was one, people's minds were blown. But yes, she does in fact turn inside-out to stand revealed as a human-sized cutlery collection, which immediately shuts down any overwhelming male desires to get close to her. Because while there is something a teensy bit alien about her, Lucas is still so supernaturally hot that she makes Fox look like a brown paper bag.
9. Best Giant Scorpion Cameo Ever.
Scorponok was a terror in the first film, scuttling beneath the sand like a creature from Tremors and only popping up to stab a soldier in the chest. But after taking a beating from some Army gunships, he beat a hasty retreat and was not seen again. And he doesn't appear in this film either, at least, not until the middle of the massive final shootout between the Army, their few Autobot allies and an army of generic Decepticons. Then, Scorponok suddenly soars out of the desert, snaps his claws and disappears again. When you have no idea who any of the bad guys are, a non-speaking character you've seen once or twice before can seem like an old friend. It took over four hours to make us care about him, but I'll take what I can get.
10. Frickin' Wheelie
When I first saw the short clip of Wheelie, the remote control monster truck, trying to steal the Allspark shard from Megan Fox, I thought, "Man, what an annoying character." Then I realized -- the original Wheelie, from the animated Transformers movie, was much more annoying. This Wheelie was no more obnoxious than Frenzy or Rumble, the mini-cassettes who turned into human-sized robots in the original cartoon -- and also had tough-guy accents, by the way. In fact, if he hadn't started humping Megan Fox's leg, which was kinda strange for a small, robotic car to be doing, then he probably would have been one of my favorite characters in the movie. Hey, at least he had a character.
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