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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I’m a bit embarrassed to get quite so personal, but I will for you, Dear Readers. Why? Because I care. The truth is I do not now, nor have I ever, owned a personal vibrator. You may be asking yourself why you need to know that, and I can understand your confusion, but it will all make sense when I explain myself. Earlier today I was having breakfast with my dear friends Nancy and Dale at the University Mall and after we ate we wandered aimlessly about while we continued our never-ending conversation about almost everything and nothing. As we passed the massage chairs in the middle of one end of the public thoroughfare, I mentioned that my perfect husband and I often engaged in a quick round of “rough trade” massage from these chairs’ mechanical masseurs. Dale chuckled and made a scurrilous comment about how the chair couldn’t do anything for Nancy that she couldn’t ~ and didn’t ~ do for herself at home.”

Nancy snorted her agreement though I didn’t agree and said so. I knew the magic of the full-body jiggle and knead was nothing like what these two salacious hens were gabbing about. I offered Nancy a chair and three minutes and a dollar later she understood that there was no comparison between her “bedside buddy” and the massage chair. I hope at this point I was also able to convince my pals that not all of us elect to vibrate our “stress” away. Heck, I can’t even change the batteries in my tv remote control, so I don’t think I’m up for a long-term commitment with any man-made device that has buttons or control dials. Anything more complicated than an on/off switch would be beyond me. Truthfully, the only machine I’ve been able to muster up any real sentiment for in the past ten years or so is that little garbage compacter Wall·E, and that was more a sense of maternal yearning than carnal lust.

So when the Transformers first arrived in theaters June 29th, 2007 (scary that I know that), I wasn’t particularly aroused in the way most of the people in the audience were. I sat in the theater that evening with a packed house and felt like I was squeezed into a bottle of poppers, the testosterone was so heavy in the room. Well, okay, it was the end of June. It might have been the skanky body odor of 250 crazed men, but I was telling myself it was the fine pheromones of maleness wafting my way rather than the other; that way I’d be more likely to enjoy my popcorn. So I sat through the two-and-a-half hours of Transformers and lived to enjoy many home appliances and automobiles in the following two years since, but I can’t say I’ve spent a single second thinking about one of them morphing into something different. Until today.

This afternoon, of course, I went to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the inevitable sequel to the original (with a worldwide gross of $708,272,592 it was obviously going to be inevitable). My knowledge of Transformers has not grown in the least since the last time around, but I was glad to know that all the original cast and the big names behind the scenes were on board because I hate it when movie sequels change actors in mid-stream like what happened during the first round of Batman movies back in the 1990s. There was a new Batman in practically every movie. At least director Michael Bay (The Island) doesn’t have to worry about half of his cast crapping out on him in this case. The real stars of the Transformers series aren’t going to get temperamental and ask for more money or get drunk and smash up their hand and screw up the production schedule (*ahem* paging Mr. LaBoeuf, Mr. Shia LaBoeuf). The fans of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen aren’t particularly interested in the human stars of the film as much as the robotic ones anyway. The Transformers are what they came to see, and in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen they will be sated with more than their fair share. They’ll just have to be patient while the first forty minutes or so of the movie sets up all the human storylines, what thin stories exist.

Basically, all that is new with the Witwicky clan is that Sam (Shia LaBoeuf; Eagle Eye) is off to college, giving his mother (Julie White; Breaking Upwards) and father (Kevin Dunn; Vicky Cristina Barcelona) an opportunity to pull out all the “empty nest” shtick they can about their little “baby” going away from home for the first time ever. Good Lord. I practically insisted our son go away to college! We wanted him to experience life on his own. We wanted him gone. I had his stuff packed and in his car before he even woke up and realized I’d sent in any college applications to a single school. By noon on his high school graduation day his father and I had given him a going away gift (OnStar™, so he could find his way across the country), wished him au revoir and had wallpapered his room and arranged for the carpet installers to be in the next day. We were a lot more stoic than Judy Witwicky, who ends up a sniveling mess (maybe edged on by some special organic brownies she purchased from a student in the dorm and ate as Sam was moving his stuff in).

The real crybaby though is Sam’s car/Autobot, Bumblebee, who actually bursts into tears of something (windshield wiper fluid?) when Sam tells him he doesn’t get to join the kid at college. Instead, he is stuck spending his life in the garage with an occasional visit from Sam’s girlfriend, Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox; Whore; that’s the name of the movie she was in. Not my personal commentary about her, though if the label fits…). Now, if Bumblebee wasn’t a metalhead, he’d probably be thrilled to have her come by and handle his crankcase every now and again because in the past couple of years Ms. Fox has become one of Hollywood’s hottest’s young stars. She hasn’t made any other movies except Whore and How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, but she’s gotten breast implants, lip collagen and (probably) ass implants too, so she looks totally like a blow-up sex doll. Michael Bay takes full advantage of that too, having her straddle a motorcycle in one scene while she is on the phone in what looks like the beginning of a Playboy pictorial. She seems to be oiled down and made up with about three or four pounds of “natural” looking cosmetics and two-inch false eyelashes in her every scene, no matter how grim the action, no matter where she might be, including the middle of battle in the Egyptian desert. What a gal!

So, as I said, it takes a good forty minutes or so to establish that Sam’s in college, he doesn’t want to be involved with the Transformers anymore (he even goes so far as to tell Optimus Prime to basically “piss off”, but nicely, of course). The really odd bit though is that for those who even vaguely remember the first Transformers, the entire history of how Sam’s grandfather came to meet up with the Transformers and get hold of the all-precious, all-important, Allspark (basically the heart and soul of what makes a Autobot or Decepticon go) seems void because in a few (hundred) lines of exposition we are told that the robots have been visiting Earth for centuries, leaving their language markings as hieroglyphics all around the globe. Now, because Sam accidently touched the last surviving shard of the Allspark (he kept it as a souvenir) he pulls a “Chuck” like the tv character of the same-named series and uploads all the information of the Autobot, Decepticon and Human races into his brain. At the same time, the Decepticons also happen to be on the move to invade the planet and activate a machine that they built inside of one of the pyramids which will block out the sun and destroy all life on Earth. To trigger the machine they need the information captured from the Allspark and now in Sam Witwicky’s brain, so whether he wants to be involved in the doings of the Transformers or not, he is destined to be a huge part of their war.

Of course, the war is why the fans have put their butts in the theater’s chairs so it’s not important that there isn’t any plot as long as the CGI is brilliant (it is) and the robots kick ass (they do). It’s too bad it takes the better part of two hours before we get to the last half hour where it is a non-stop Decepticon vs. Autobot showdown while the US, Egyptian and Syrian ground and air forces waste their time stirring up dust in the background just for dramatic effect.

Hopefully Transformers fans will be pleased. I enjoyed this chapter as much, if not more, than the first. Of course that’s like saying I savor a root canal without anesthesia more than natural child birth on a scale of pleasurable events in my day. I can hardly wait for the third installment, already in the planning stages.

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