It’s no surprise that both have a lot in common. Not only are big robot action epics, but they’re also new entries in two beloved series. So how were they? Were they both equally satisfying or hugely disappointing?
Now I am more a Terminator fan than a Transformers fan. I just adore The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, without question two of the best movies I have ever seen. I thought Terminator 3 was fun, but nowhere near as great as its predecessors, and I really liked The Sarah Conner Chronicles, but I did get tired of the entire chase aspect that was used in the first three films. Terminator Salvation does something different by taking it into the post-apocalyptic future, after Skynet activated, perceives humans as a threat to its own existence, and eradicates much of humanity. The story revolves around two main characters: the future leader of the Human Resistance, John Conner, played by Christian Bale, and Marcus Wright, played by Sam Worthington, a Death Row inmate who apparently dies in 2003 but somehow wakes up in war-torn 2018. The first half of the film follows each character separately until they meet in the middle of the film and they share the same story in the final half of the film and that is rescuing Resistance fighters from Skynet, one of them being Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), John Conner’s future father.
I really liked this new installment. It’s not as good as 1 or 2 but I preferred it over 3. This was directed by McG (Yes, that is his name) who did the Charlie’s Angels films and is an executive producer on Chuck and Supernatural. Here, he really shows what he can do as an action director. All the action sequences here are excellent, which range from gritty, urban action sequences to big robot tussles. The film’s final 30 minutes are especially exhilarating and is well worth the price of your cinema ticket. There are also some great references to the previous entries of the series, ranging from the blatantly obvious (including a surprise cameo near the end, three guesses who) to the very subtle. The cinematography is brilliant, perfectly creating the look and feel of a post-apocalyptic world. The acting is pretty good as well, with the stand-puts being Sam Worthington who manages to make us sympathize with Marcus and Anton Yelchin, who you could also mistake for being Michael Biehn as he channels him so well as Kyle Reese. Christian Bale is great as usual, but he only has one note to use throughout the film and that is being tough and moody, which he does well but it would have been nice if there was more character there. The other actors are just good; Common and Moon Bloodgood are fine in their roles but have some bad dialogue moments, Helena Bonham Carter is good in her small cameo as is Michael Ironside and Bryce Dallas Howards, as much as I really like her, seems a little bit wasted. She should have been given more to do.
The film’s main flaw is that as soon as it starts to gain momentum, it ends. Now McG’s plans were to make this into a trilogy, so it feels like they’re saving a lot of the better things for Terminator 5 and 6. Now I’m pretty tired of films that are made as if they are the start of a trilogy that ends up going nowhere like Push, The Golden Compass, Jumper to name a few. But seeing as this is a Terminator film, I’m willing to forgive it as a sequel seems certain.
But part form the film’s lack of self-containment and some of it’s acting; it is a really solid summer blockbuster. It’s just as good as Bale’s other post-apocalyptic film, Reign of Fire, which I love. Overall; it’s an impressive addition in The Terminator mythology and I look forward to see what they do with it next.
Now onto Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
Transformers were a childhood favorite of mine. I used to watch it on Fox Kids all the time. But when Fox Kids got canceled, I lost interest for a while. Then when Michael Bay’s Transformers came out two years ago, my interest was renewed. It was stylish, fast-paced, and brilliantly exciting. And I can pretty much say the same for Revenge of The Fallen, but I can also say that it’s so dumb, it’s genius.
The “plot” of the film is this: two years after the first film, the Autobots have joined with the army to hunt down the remaining Decepticons; Meanwhile, Sam Whitwicky (Shia Lebouf) is having problems with his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) as he’s going to college and leaving her behind. But then, Starscream returns and resurrects Megatron and they leave Earth to meet The Fallen, one of the 13 original Transformers, as he wants revenge on Earth for betraying him 10,000 years ago. So their global domination plan is to get a key called The Matrix of Leadership so they can activate this ancient weapon that destroys the Sun so it’s up to the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, to stop them.
And trust me, it gets stupider.
But then again what do you expect from Michael Bay, director of such great high-octane action-fests like Bad Boys 1 + 2, Armageddon, The Rock, The Island, Pearl Harbor and the first Transformers. So I really don’t understand all the bad criticism for this film. Revenge of The Fallen is just like those films, it’s a loud, dumb fun summer blockbuster. The film is nothing but a spectacle of brilliantly put-together action sequences mixed with a very dumb story. In fact, there is one scene where a Decepticon transforms into a hot college girl. Really, with a scene like that, all the criticism about it being dumb has to go down the drain. The effects are brilliant. All the detail on the war-torn body of Optimus Prime is great. There’s even a scene where Optimus Prime takes on Megatron, Starscream and Soundwave in a forest that tops the 3-on-1 big ape-vs dinosaur fight in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. It truly is a spectacle to behold. And the best effect of all: Megan Fox running in slow motion, of course.
The film is not without its flaws though. Like the first film, some of the scenes involving Sam and his parents fall flat when it comes to humor. Lebouf is good in his role, it’s just his character isn’t really giving anything to do. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson also return as Lennox and Epps form the first film. I liked that they were back but I also missed their character arcs from the first one. And those who thought John Turturro was going to be just as annoying as he was first time around need not worry as Ramon Rodriguez is here to play Sam’s equally annoying roommate.
Now on big part of the film that is getting everyone angry is the Autobot twins, Mudflap and Skids, who are being savaged for being racial stereotypes because they speak street language and one of them apparently has a gold tooth. Now I think it is ridiculous that they’re being panned this way. I can see why some people won’t like them as they can get on people’s nerves but calling them racist is a bit of an exaggeration. I didn’t mind them, I chuckled a couple f times at their antics but they’re definitely not my favorite characters of the film. That goes to Optimus Prime who is still the tough talking leader of the Autobots that we know and love from Transformers mythology.
To sum it up; Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen is not a smart film by any means necessary, but it is a terrific Michael Bay film tailor-made for the Summer. Sure, people will say it’s dumb like all his other films but then again, that’s why we see them in the first place, not to be given a moral message, but to sit back, relax and have a good time.
So which is better? Well they are both adequately satisfying, but I would favor Terminator Salvation slightly as I was expecting Revenge of the Fallen to be better than the first Transformers and it turned out to be just a little bit not as good as it. But Terminator Salvation and Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen are two really good action films that are worth checking out.
Terminator Salvation Full Price!!!
Transformers: revenge of the Fallen: Matinee!b>