Thursday, June 25, 2009


Review: Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen (2009) (SPOILERS)

I'm no professional critic, but as an occasional student of film and as an avid movie watcher I've learned enough about criticism to know that everything must be taken into context. I'm not about to compare a Transformers movie to Citizen Kane (1941). On the other hand, comparing this movie to other films in the same genre is fair game. I loved The Rock (1996), so it's not like I'm inherently anti-Michael Bay.

Being fairly knowledgeable about the Transformers universe as a whole (I've seen and own every single episode of the original animated series), I think I've got a pretty good background for critisizing Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen (2009).

On a gut-feel level, I thought that the movie was okay. Not spectacular, but okay. The previous film had me shaking in my seat upon hearing Peter Cullen's voice as Optimus Prime for the first time in 20 years. I enjoyed seeing my favourite characters from my childhood brought alive in a live-action picture. Walking out of the theatre this time around, I can't really say that I was as excited.

First I'll describe the parts of the film that I did like, in order of preference:

  1. Prime engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the forest with three decepticons simultaneously (prior to his "death"). This was the best part of the film, and it captures the essence of just how awesome Optimus Prime really is. Here's a guy that can take on three decepticons at once (including Megatron), unload an impressive ass kicking, and yet yearn for nothing but peace. That's strength. That's honour. That's why he's my favourite.
  2. Prime modified with Jetfire's parts. I think that it would have been cool if he had been able to retain those parts longer than the final battle and actually be able to transform into vehicle mode with them. I wonder what that would have looked like.
  3. Watching the Constructicons merge into Devastator. That was a delicious segment to watch, though honestly I was kind of disappointed with the final merged form. I didn't really like the whole "vacuum mouth" thing or the ape-like lumbering. I also would have liked to see Devastator enter into some hand-to-hand combat with some Autobots.
Now for the stuff that I didn't like, in no particular order:

  • Lousy female characters. Why is it that it seemed like every female at the college was portrayed as a sex-starved bimbo? That whole thing with Rainn Wilson dropping his apple at the feet of a female freshman? That whole creepy Alice thing? Both moments just seemed degrading.
  • Sam's mom high on weed? Give me a break. I was amused with Sam's parents in the first film - I thought of them as an exaggerated realization of how many of us probably perceive our parents at Sam's age. This time they should have been given the hook as soon as Sam left for college.
  • Mikaela: Why was she even there? She was contributing to the story when she took the Allspark shard, when she caught Wheelie, and when she disposed of Alice. For the latter two-thirds of the film, why was she even necessary (other than for gratuitous slow-motion shots of bouncing cleavage, that is)?
  • The Twins, Mudflap and Skids. I agree with everybody who says that these guys are Michael Bay's equivalent to Jar-Jar Binks. You just know they're annoying when Bumblebee has to start knocking them around to get them to shut up. As soon as I found out that they were voiced by the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants, their idiocy suddenly made a bit more sense. To be fair, I did like some of their one-liners, but they could have easily gone to somebody cool, like Ironhide.
  • Lennox and Epps: These guys had shit lines. They had much better character development in the first movie (and that's not saying much). These guys were one-dimensional in this film. Furthermore, while executing the Egyption Prime Drop [Wow, that sounds like a good name for a drink! You heard it here first, you plagiarizing weasels!], they kept going on about how "the kid" had better not be wrong about all of this. Hello?! Weren't you two there in the first film when Sam fought alongside you (and arguably did a more important job) to save the world? Or does that whole "You're a soldier now" speech from the first film no longer apply now that Lennox is a Major? LAME.
  • Megatron subservient to The Fallen? Sorry, Megatron answers to nobody. That's why he's Megatron. The only time that he can be coherced is via torture. I guess that the writers never watched Transformers: The Movie (1986). I know that the live-action films are not 100% faithful to the animated series, but this servitude tore out an essential part of Megatron's character.
  • Optimus Prime's "death." I thought that this was executed poorly, especially vis-à-vis Megatron's death and resurrection. I also thought that he went down too easily considering that he was the only worthy opponent to The Fallen. I was also disappointed that this resulted in Prime's absence from much of the length of the film. The only redeeming part of this was the invocation of the Matrix of Leadership.
  • Cinematography. Some of the action sequences involved cameras that were placed so close to the action that all I could see was a blurry mess of colours. It was often times very difficult to follow. More than once I wondered whether this was just a way to stretch the effects budget a bit further by making the opponents indistinguishable.
  • Length. I love Transformers, but in my opinion this film would have been better off as a 100 to 110 minute film.
Will I buy this film on Blu-ray? Probably - I'm a sucker for Optimus Prime. Was I disappointed? As much as it pains me to admit it, I think that I was.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Oldies but Goodies

Today I was going through some old versions of my personal home page when I found some links to a number of mathNEWS articles that I was responsible for. I found them to still be humourous, so I thought that I'd share the links.

Secondhand Stogies

Party in Your Pants

Roadside Attractions: Pinto McBean

War on Java

and my personal favourite:

Speaking English Deemed Offensive to Minorities

Friday, June 12, 2009


Game 7, 2009 Stanley Cup Final

I want to take a moment to complain about the CBC's coverage once the buzzer ended the final game of the 2009 NHL playoffs.

Why was it that every time something important was going on, they were doing an interview? We all want the interviews, but I'd like to actually hear the announcement of the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy when it happens. I thought that they were going to miss everything when the cup came out because, when the rink announcer introduced the Stanley Cup, again they were interviewing. Finally, they were interviewing Malkin just as Lemieux was lifting the cup over his head - a significant moment indeed.

I thought that this was all terrible TV. You need to get the interviews, but you need to recognize that there are significant events taking place that the audience wants to see and hear.

Finally, you'd think that with all the Crosby coverage that he was the Conn Smythe winner. He's basically been crowned as Gretzky's successor. He's a good player, but when other players are winning the hardware, I think that they should be getting more than a sliver of coverage. Hell, that Pittsburgh-themed Gatorade commercial that they aired during the break might as well have been called The Sidney Crosby Show.

EDIT: Looks like Bruce Dowbiggin at The Globe and Mail feels the same way.

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