Reader Review: Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

/Film reader Ryan M had a chance to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in Japan, and has sent in a reader review. We usually don't run reader reviews on the site if they don't fall into the category of "long lead material" (test screenings, extremely advance promo screenings...etc) but the interest in the Transformers sequel is high enough to warrant it. For those of you looking to hear what a non reader review on the site, I assure you that we'll run at least one official review of Transformers on the site next week, in addition to the /Filmcast discussion the week following. I should note that the review is, for the most part, spoiler free, but does contain some "minor spoilers" that could easily be seen in the trailers and tv spots. Review after the jump.

Reader review follows:

Hey Peter,

My name is Ryan M and I'm a frequent visitor of and long time /Filmcast listener – Big fan of what you all are doing over at /Film.
I live in Japan and today us residents of the country were fortunate enough to see TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (or as it's called in Japan – TRANSFORMERS REVENGE) as it opened over here before the U.S.. This is very unusual for Japan – every movie usually opens later than the U.S. if it is released in theaters over here at all. Most major releases arrive in theaters over here two or three weeks later than the U.S. (e.g. Dark Knight, Watchmen, Star Trek, Terminator Salvation) and smaller movies arrive as late as four to six months later (Slumdog Millionaire opened mid-April, The Wrestler opened last week, The Reader opened today). But Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opens in Japan tomorrow, the 20th, and had advanced screenings today, the 19th, in select theaters. So this is pretty cool because I can say that I've already seen a movie that people are going to be camping out to see in less than a week in the states.
In case you think I'm full of shit, here's my photographic evidence:
Since your site is my favorite film blog site, I thought I'd send this little write up of my thoughts on the film to you. My intention of writing this isn't to tell people to/not to go see this movie but rather to tell a little about what to expect – without giving away major spoilers, of course. (Please note that this is my first time writing a piece like this about a movie)
Plot: The plot for the first film was criticized by many for being simple and weak. But who cared? Those who did didn't enjoy themselves. Those who just went with the flow, turned their brain off for 144 minutes and just took in what was thrown at them for what it was enjoyed themselves. The same applies to this movie. The plot is just as basic. But everyone knows what to expect from a Transformers movie now. Nobody is going to see this for the strong plot. The storyline is just set up quickly and easily to make room for a myriad of robots being on Earth and a reason for them to be going at each other. Here, it goes like this:
Sam Witwicky learns about the Transformers' true ancient origins. Decepticons need to know this truth and go after Sam. Autobots and humans join forces to survive Sam and the Earth.
Cue incredibly long battle of epic proportions between countless robots. In both movies, there's no time to think about plot because Michael Bay throws a ton of action at you by the minute. This is a great thing if you just want some mindless eyepopping action that you can enjoy without stressing your mind out. If you want a thought provoking storyline that will exercise your brain – well, you should know that Michael Bay isn't the guy thats going to give that to you. Instead he exercises the hell out of your eyes and your ears. He puts A TON on the screen – much, much more than the first film.
The CG is some of the best that has ever been committed to film. Love it or hate it, no one can say that this movie doesn't have amazing CGI. Its ILM – nobody should expect anything less than the best. The film is stunning throughout – not just in terms of the visual effects, but also Ben Seresin's cinematography. Every shot is just gorgeous.
Like the plot, the characters are pretty much the same as the first movie. The same goes for the dialogue as well – not much to work with for the cast, but for the movie, it works well enough. You know what to expect from Shia LeBouf's Sam Witwicky if youve seen any Shia LeBouf film. Hes just as good/bad (you be judge) as he is in his other films. His quirky way of talking, his super fast nervous rants, all of that is there. Sam's parents are given a lot more humor this time and it didn't really work for me – Sam's mother gets especially annoying and acts like a 6 year old at times.
Now, when Sam gets to his college, youd think that these scenes would be the most realistic of the movie. Thats not the case. From the campus to the dorm to Astronomy 101 class, there is not a single girl who doesn't look like she couldn't be on the cover of Seventeen Magazine in sight. It must be harder to find an ugly girl in this movie (besides the adults) than it initially was to find R2D2's appearance in Star Trek. These are the kind of girls you would find in the hottest clubs in LA. Speaking of which, the first college party that Sam goes to looks like a club that Vinny Chase would go to to pick up a girl for the night and all the girls in attendance look like the ones that reject Turtle time and time again. Note: If you know any college like this, please contact me immediately. This isn't a complaint. In fact, this is what mainstream audiences want from a Michael Bay summer flick. Those who want to see a realistic depiction of college aren't going to go to this movie. Those who want to see what their dream college would be like will be pleasantly surprised though. Shia's trademark acting/humor is at its best in these college scenes. His roommate is played by Ramon Rodriguez (Slashfilmcast listeners, expect another mention of The Wire on the podcast) and is pretty one dimensional. The other characters – the military men, John Turturro, etc – they give you what they gave you before. And surprisingly, the robots are much more life like this time around
Then there's Megan Fox. I'm not going to talk about her acting here, you know what she's done before and that's what she does here. I'm sure people want to know more about how much we get to see her doing what she does best – making us men melt a little in our seats. I remember seeing Transformers two years ago – when Megan Fox bent over to fix Sam's car, it was a moment of unity between all men in the theater as we squirmed in our seats and quickly held tight to the bucket of popcorn on our laps to cover our... Megatrons. She looks just as stunning if not more so in ROTF but she doesn't show as much skin as I'm assuming most audiences want her to – but not to worry, John Turturro makes up for this in what must be one of the most horrific shots in any movie this summer – including Drag Me To Hell.
I felt ROTF was more mature than the first Transformers. There's more swearing, more violence (though it doesn't push the PG-13 rating in this department like TDK did) and lot more sexual content. There's ass slapping, leg humping, and a scene with the Witwickys' dogs that, judging from a certain shot from Bad Boys II, may be something that Bay finds especially amusing (speaking of which, look for a very subtle reference to Bad Boys II when Shia starts flipping out in his dorm room, along with a nod to J.J. Abrams that you may catch if you are astute enough).
I'm not going to go any deeper into the movie since I don't want to reveal any spoilers, even the minor ones (many early reviews that I have read do reveal these). I'll just say that for the most part, anyone who had a blast watching the first film is sure to have a great time at this one as well and those who despise the first film are not going to enjoy this one. I say this because I came out of this movie with the same reaction I came out of the first one. It was an entertaining flick with some of the best CGI and action sequences anyone is likely to see this year. I must say though, it is long. It is really, really long. At least 20 minutes could have been cut to make this a better picture. Even with its length, this is likely going to be the highest grossing movie of the summer. It delivers on what it promises, and thats all that most audiences can wish for.
If you have any questions to ask shoot me an e-mail and I'll answer to the best of my ability.
P.S. – Star Trek is still definitely the best action movie of the summer.
Keep up the great work,
Ryan M.