Revenge of the Fallen Review and Reaction
If Twilight was a movie made by a twelve year old girl, RotF was made by a fourteen year old boy.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie a great deal. It had its high points, but like so many other movies, it had low ones too.
SPOILERS ABOUND BELOW!
Holy cow, Prime rules this movie from start to finish. Peter Cullen (the original voice for Prime from the eighties cartoon) still has It. This is the grown-up version of so many kids childhood hero--he's a war leader, and it shows. He has the wisdom of someone older than our planet, the soothing presence to his allies, the patience of a saint, all with the ability to turn around and stamp out Decepticon incursions. On the negative side, Prime has always been displayed as a peace-loving, reluctant soldier. In this film, he's downright brutal, executing Decepticon soldiers that were apparently doing nothing (though if you read the novels, you get slightly more background. Thank you, David Allen Foster.).
In this film, they introduce new Autobots, if you could call it that. Bay does a woeful job of giving these mechs and femmes (boys and girls for those not avid fans like myself) any sort of personality. We still have Ironhide, Ratchet, and Bumblebee from the first movie, and we meet Sideswipe, the sexy Corvette Stingray concept, the Arcee twins (who are, interestingly enough, a hivemind) who were the pink and purple motorcycles, Chromia, the blue 'cycle, Jolt, the Chevy Volt concept, and Skids and Mudflap, Chevy Aveos. I can nearly promise that no one realized that Chromia was even present, and that no one realized Jolt existed until the final scene when he aided Ratchet. You never get to know any of these characters, save for the twins, Skids and Mudflap. Sideswipe had two lines of dialogue, Arcee had one, and Jolt had no lines whatsoever.
The Autobot Twins
These two are what I consider the most controversial element of the film. The pair speak very poor, slang-based English with a stereotypical "ghetto" accent. They indulge in petty fights without the least bit of provocation, a very atypical behavior for an Autobot. One twin even has a gold tooth, for no apparent reason (even the novel doesn't touch that one), and under questioning from Sam Witwicky, they both confess to being illiterate. Not just unable to read the language of the Primes, but any language. Both twins have their moments of humor and usefulness, but overall, the pair of characters were in very poor taste.
I'm sold. Hugo Weaving can play Megatron until the skies fall and I will be a happy fangirl. He has calculating and cruel, but at the same time, he was wise, even pleasant, with the dark intent that no other Megatron portrayal has managed. Overall, he was electrifying.
I loved the interaction between Megatron and Starscream, his ambitious second in command. It's classic canon, back to the early eighties cartoon, but grown up for the big screen. Starscream is more Machiavellian, and by counterpoint, Megatron is more cruel.
Even Starscream's latest diabolical plan is cut off sharply by the presence of Megatron's master, a one-time Prime that turned on his brothers out of ambition and cruelty, becoming the first Decepticon. He is everything a Decepticon should be--terrifying, intelligent, ruthless, and cruel. He was the one that mentored the young Lord High Protector into betraying his brother Optimus Prime, in an echo of what he once had done himself. Between Megatron and the Fallen, the interaction is homage to Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars.
The rest of the Decepticons (there were about twenty of them, all told) were faceless and nameless. The only one who got any real time was Devastator, a gesalt team of five (or was it six?) Decepticons that had construction vehicles as alternate forms, classically known as "the Constructicons". The rest of the cannon fodder were pretty unremarkable and forgettable. The only thing that irritated me was that Bay reused the models from the first movie. We had a MH-53 Pave Low helicopter with the same model as Blackout, but this was some pansy named Grindor, killed in about ten minutes. The Audi R8, Sideways, from the very beginning was nearly identical to Barricade, and killed in five or less. Through the final fight, you could see models identical to Megatron (without the extra kibble), Bonecrusher, and so on.
The only other Decpeticon that was really done right was Soundwave and his drones. He was also voiced by his original actor, who also has not lost a whit of the classic portrayal. Soundwave was emotionless and terrifying, despite the fact that all he does is hack a US government satellite, and fill his role as Decepticon communications officer. If he comes up for adoption on Survival: Earth, he's mine.
And don't ask me about the "hatchlings". All twenty of us on the RP board are still trying to figure that one out.
There were far too many humans in this film. We have old favorites like Major (formerly Captain) Will Lennox, Tech Sergeant Robert Epps, Sam Witwicky (and his useless parents in tow), Mikaela Banes (who actually does a LOT of growing up as a character in this movie), and even (former Agent) Reggie Simmons. They also introduce Leo, Sam's college roommate, who is as useless as characters come. There's also an entirely unneeded scene with Judy Witwicky and pot brownies.
I have a theory on this. In August, 2008, Steve Saleen sold Saleen, Inc., the company that produced Barricade's altform of the Saleen S281. The new owners didn't appear to be interested in a deal with Paramount/Hasbro (or an agreement couldn't be made), and thus, Barricade had to be cut out of the film. It was likely too late in production to go back and change things, such as his altmode, and we know he was going to be in it, since a flatbed trailer was spotted on site with three Barricade cars on it (also, a toy was released. Go Hasbro).
Overall, it was an enjoyable summer movie. I liked it, saw it three times, and may see it a few times more. It's appropriate for kids, so long as they're old enough to handle the moderate to extreme violence (pretty much all of which is performed by said alien robots), the thinly veiled racism, and the concept of betrayal and deception.