Making the Grades
Autobots? Decepticons? If you don’t know what these terms mean, you soon will after sitting through 150 minutes of mechanical mayhem in this sequel to the 2007 movie that launched the Transformers toy franchise into the cinematic stratosphere.
Disguised as cars, machinery and every other mechanical device imaginable, these alien creatures have been living on our planet since ancient times. I can’t tell you why they are really here (because then there would be no reason to endure the subwoofer serenade), but I can say the bad Decepticons are trying to find a little shard of metal from something called The Allspark (a plot point in the first movie). That trinket will get them access to another prize called the Matrix of Leadership, which will allow them to overcome the good Autobots. It’s pure videogame stuff except you don’t get to hold a controller with a pause button.
Once again, Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is at the center of the action. About to leave home to attend Princeton (we can’t help but wonder how he attained such scholastic glory), his mother (Julie White) provides a sobbing goodbye while dad (Kevin Dunn) happily packs his bags. Meanwhile Mikaela (Megan Fox), the girlfriend he is leaving behind (who is styled like a porn star throughout this film) is looking forward to regular webcam meetings.
Although the students and campus look more like Hefner’s guests at the Playboy mansion than a academic institution, the eager freshman barely has time to look around before stumbling across an Internet clip showing a robot attack in China. Well, okay, he does get momentarily sidetracked by a blonde babe (Isabel Lucas) who throws herself on top of him. Her true nature is quickly revealed however, when she releases a mechanical tongue that embeds into Sam’s apparently vacant brain information that will later be used to fight against the robotic forces of evil. Putting Princeton on hold, Sam is joined by Mikaela on a quest to save the world. Let the battles begin!
Written at the level of an eight-year-old, yet including mature sexual jokes and comments (including dogs and robots in heat), this film manipulates its young captive audience with the deftness of a sledgehammer. Endless epic battles with 360-degree camera dollies leave viewers dizzy with confusion. And it’s nearly impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys. While countless humans are presumably dead from the carnage, there are thankfully few details. Such is not the case with the robots. While they may not be made of flesh, they die in very explicit ways with blood-like fluids gushing from their mangled, metal bodies.
As eye candy for older males, there are plenty of slow motion shots of Megan Fox running, and running, and running all while wearing a strappy, little shirt that will never qualify her for best “supported” actress. With bombs falling like rain and the men cut up, burned and dying, her character somehow manages to endure. Her pouty lips remain freshly glossed and her lashes continue to hold up pounds of mascara. (No wonder many young men have unreasonable expectations of what a woman should look like after a hard day’s work.)
And then there are Sam’s parents. Depicted as happily married and concerned for their son, these positive elements are lost when Mom consumes some pot-laced brownies and becomes uncontrollably amorous.
So, despite being based on a kid’s toy and marketed to a family audience, the near nonstop violence, sexual banter and language (that includes one use of “the” sexual expletive plus many derivations), makes these Transformers anything but child’s play.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen.
Transformers were introduced in the mid-1980s. Most of the children who played with them would now be in their mid-twenties to early-thirties. How does this movie try and capture that audience, while attempting to generate interest in the toys for young potential purchasers?
What are your feelings about using a toy aimed at young children in an adult context? Do marketers have a moral obligation to ensure products associated with young childrens toys are presented in a manner suitable for that age group?