Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ebert's Review of Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

Normally, I'm not a paste and post kind of a gal, but every once in a while there is gem that must be shared. Many folks have asked, "are you going to see the new Transformers movie?" Here is why I will not be, as summed up by Mr. Roger Ebert no less. Mike, the very tall fellow that works at 3 out of 4 of the locations will surely disagree, he loves any and all Transforming robots, but Ebert is a very well educated man that has proven to be again and again a champion of all genre based movies, (sci-fi, fantasy, anime, comic book and others). I think I'm going to believe Ebert over Mike in this case. Here is Ebert's review, courtesy of


by Roger Ebert

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.

The plot is incomprehensible. The dialog of the Autobots, Deceptibots and Otherbots is meaningless word flap. Their accents are Brooklyese, British and hip-hop, as befits a race from the distant stars. Their appearance looks like junkyard throw-up. They are dumb as a rock. They share the film with human characters who are much more interesting, and that is very faint praise indeed.

The movie has been signed by Michael Bay. This is the same man who directed "The Rock" in 1996. Now he has made "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Faust made a better deal. This isn't a film so much as a toy tie-in. Children holding a Transformer toy in their hand can invest it with wonder and magic, imagining it doing brave deeds and remaining always their friend. I knew a little boy once who lost his blue toy truck at the movies, and cried as if his heart would break. Such a child might regard "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" with fear and dismay.

Megan Fox and Sam Witwicky outrun an explosion.

The human actors are in a witless sitcom part of the time, and lot of the rest of their time is spent running in slo-mo away from explosions, although--hello!--you can't outrun an explosion. They also make speeches like this one by John Turturro: "Oh, no! The machine is buried in the pyramid! If they turn it on, it will destroy the sun! Not on my watch!" The humans, including lots of U.S. troops, shoot at the Transformers a lot, although never in the history of science fiction has an alien been harmed by gunfire.

There are many great-looking babes in the film, who are made up to a flawless perfection and look just like real women, if you are a junior fanboy whose experience of the gender is limited to lad magazines. The two most inexplicable characters are Ron and Judy Witwicky (Kevin Dunn and Julie White), who are the parents of Shia LaBeouf, who Mephistopheles threw in to sweeten the deal. They take their son away to Princeton, apparently a party school, where Judy eats some pot and goes berserk. Later they swoop down out of the sky on Egypt, for reasons the movie doesn't make crystal clear, so they also can run in slo-mo from explosions.

The battle scenes are bewildering. A Bot makes no visual sense anyway, but two or three tangled up together create an incomprehensible confusion. I find it amusing that creatures that can unfold out of a Camaro and stand four stories high do most of their fighting with...fists. Like I say, dumber than a box of staples. They have tiny little heads, except for one who is so ancient he has an aluminum beard.

Aware that this movie opened in England seven hours before Chicago time and the morning papers would be on the streets, after writing the above I looked up the first reviews as a reality check. I was reassured: "Like watching paint dry while getting hit over the head with a frying pan!" (Bradshaw, Guardian); "Sums up everything that is most tedious, crass and despicable about modern Hollywood!" (Tookey, Daily Mail); "A giant, lumbering idiot of a movie!" (Edwards, Daily Mirror). The first American review, Todd Gilchrist of Cinematical, reported that Bay's "ambition runs a mile long and an inch deep," but, in a spirited defense, says "this must be the most movie I have ever experienced." He is bullish on the box office: it "feels destined to be the biggest movie of all time." It’s certainly the biggest something of all time.

Footnote 6/24: Does it strike you as a lapse of Pyramid security that no one notices a gigantic Deceptibot ripping off the top of the Great Pyramid? Not anyone watching on the live PyramidCam? Not even a traffic copter?


Lori's note: By all means go see the new Transfomers movie if that is what you feel the need to do, but don't forget you can also get some great Transformers action at your local A/F. Come on in to your local Amazing Fantasy and we can show you a wonderful selection of Transformers comics that will entertain and delight you. IDW has done a fine job of reprinting the Transformers comics of old along with publishing a plethora all new tales for young and old alike!


  1. Fuck Ebert, I loved the movie to death. You don't go read or watch the Tranformers series to enjoy a serious plot. The series has never been that for me. I mean, they're robot aliens that tranform into vehicles. How can that be considered serious in the first place?

    If you want a serious robot movie, watch AI, or plead with Hollywood to make a movie out of the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime.

    Revenge of the Fallen had a better plot than the first movie. They introduced The Fallen very well, and the movie made the first film make more sense now that the need for the allspark, the obtainment of energon is explained. Furthermore, it sheds light on Megatron's actions from the first film.

    People are so goddamn critical of movies like Transformers nowadays. It makes no sense to be that way about it.

  2. I have to side with Ebert here. I don't think he went in expecting a dramatic masterpiece of Shakespearean proportions. I love Ebert's reviews because he takes into account what the movie is trying to accomplish when he gives his opinion, which is how he has in the past defended giving "Spiderman 2" and "The Godfather" the same high rating. Each accomplished their goals admirably and entertainingly.

    I have no doubt that Ebert understood that Transformers 2 was trying to be a big, dumb action film - he just believed (probably correctly) that it failed utterly at even this modest goal.

    I saw the first Transformers movie and thought it was one of the worst things I'd ever been subjected to. Luckily, it was on HBO so I didn't pay for it, or I would have been really angry. I like big action movies as much as the next guy, but that movie really insulted my intelligence and was frankly boring. I can hardly imagine that the second one is worse, but apparently it is.

    While it may not make sense to criticize a popcorn movie by the same standards as an art film, it also doesn't make sense to give a movie a free pass for being a total piece of garbage just because it wasn't trying to be "serious."

  3. I dunno, Neal K, I'm not a big action movie guy. I'm a Transformers fan. Started following the franchise when Beast Wars came out. It satisfied that part of me quite well. These days, everything is adaption of something, or a sequel, or prequel.

    No original movies are really coming out, so there are a lot of these movies coming out, and I stand earnestly by my enjoyment of Revenge of the Fallen. It could have been so much worse. Jesus, it could have been like Terminator: Salvation. I wanted to inject a lead bullet into my head after watching that..

  4. Dear Mr. Ebert,

    Its a movie based by toys from the 80s. Exactly how much intellectual content do you realistically think there would be? You're being absurd assuming that there should be.

    So sorry to hear your inner child is dead. Just sit back, enjoy the visual spectacle (taht's all some movies are) and do not attempt to wrestle meaning or inspiration from it. Sometimes a movie is just a movie.