Attention parents: looking for a summer movie outing for you and your boys? Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the very one for you. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince looks pretty scary, and the little ones might have to stay home. But the boys will have a ball at Transformers.
Consider the little boy I sat next to, about five years old. He was in a booster seat! I watched him during the trailer for 2012, and he looked pretty scared. So I was a little worried about how he'd take the noise, explosions, and giant robots that drew me to the theater this afternoon.
I shouldn't have worried. The first chase scene launched and I'm pretty sure he held his breath. During the fight in the forest, he was laughing his head off. As Sam Witwicky and his friends made their way through the Egyptian and Jordanian deserts, he sat hugging his knees as he stared at the screen, eyes round as saucers. As the last half hour of total mayhem unfolded, he was screaming in delight and nearly bouncing out of his seat. For all I know, every kid in the place was doing the same thing. The movie was so loud that I could barely hear him.
If you expect intelligence or relevance from your movies, can't stand loud noises, or take diuretics, then go ahead and give Transformers a miss. It's long, noisy, and predictable. The plot came out of a movie cliché generator, and didn't make any sense. It didn't even know what it wanted to be: coming-of-age? Buddy film? Sci-fi fantasy adventure? Indiana Jones? Live action anime? Oh hell, you can hear them say. Just stick it all in there. We can't be bothered with thoughtful plotting! We're busy choreographing giant robot fights!
I realize this movie could have been great if it had been placed in the hands of intelligent writers and a director with vision. Perhaps it could have explored a theme, like the human reliance on technology, or the effects of narrow-minded civilian leadership on American soldiers, or the stresses felt by young people as they take over the care of their parents and their world.
That didn't happen and yet Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is still good bang for the entertainment buck. The Autobots and Decepticons are so much more expressive than they were two years ago. The Autobots in particular display some great facial expressions. Bumblebee is that much sweeter, and the tiny Decepticons are budding scene-stealers. The movie is amazing to look at, and funny as hell. Megan Fox is, ahem, incredible, and the all-too-rare shots of Tyrese Gibson will help Mom endure the outing.
If you want a couple hours' escape, if you want to enjoy an endless stream of sexy young movie stars, if you need your fix of explosions and giant robots, or if you're an 8 year-old boy, then just go and have a good time. I was entertained, distracted, and completely sucked in. That movie cast a spell on me. I walked into the multiplex's parking garage and expected the cars to come alive. I heard movie explosions all the way home. I may go back tomorrow.