Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Starring Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox
Evokes cherished childhood memory? Check
Balance of humour and over the top action? Check
Giant robots shooting each other? Check
I’m going to be controversial here. I loved this movie. So why does everyone else seem to hate it?
I’m not going to recap the plot of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen here. There’s one group of robots (the Autobots) fighting another group of robots (the Decepticons) with some humans caught in the middle. That’s all you really need to know. Nobody is watching this movie for the plot. And I think that’s why this movie has been getting such terrible reviews. I walked into the movie expecting to enjoy some high quality CGI and special effects. I wanted giant robots fighting. And I wanted some well executed action sequences. I was prepared to sit through some truly awful and awkward human interaction (my biggest problem with the first Transformers) to get it. And I was surprised that even that didn’t get in my way of enjoying the movie. I was laughing at the right places, cheering at the right moments, and sitting on the edge of my seat for most of the final half hour. I call that a win. I really can’t understand why this movie is being panned by critics so badly. This isn’t Shakespeare. Though Optimus Prime performing Hamlet with a Decepticon skull in his hand would be cinematic gold.
This is not a movie for little kids. The fighting and explosions in the movie are very much excessive. We would expect nothing less from Michael Bay. I loved it, but I’m not a 5 year old kid. There’s also some drug and sexual references in the first part of the movie which would be a bit much for younger viewers. Young teenagers with their heads screwed on and are able to look beyond these moments would be fine. What I did find troubling was the Autobot’s ethics in fighting. At the start of the movie, Optimus Prime defeats a Decepticon in battle. He is beaten, on the ground, defenseless. And Optimus Prime shoots him in the head and kills him. The Autobots fight in such a way that the only way to defeat the bad guys is to kill them. The Bible may not back me up here – there are plenty of examples in the Old Testament about God commanding his people to completely eradicate certain enemies in battle – but I have always believed that killing is the final option in battle. That there is always another way. Seeing Optimus act in such a brutal way was quite jarring for me.
About two thirds of the way through the movie, I really began to feel the scope of the Decepticon attack. There’s a feeling that there’s no way that the good guys can win this thing. The Decepticons attack with superior numbers. They’ve hacked into the satellite system so are hearing all of the good guys communications. They’ve got robots six times the size of Optimus Prime and as little as a mosquito. Things are looking incredibly dark. But the good guys fight on. They’re the good guys. That’s what they’ll do. And when things look they’re bleakest, when the bad guys are just about to win, good triumphs. It can feel like that in the Christian life. We are surrounded by sin. The pressure to cave in and give up can feel overwhelming. But we have something far greater than The Matrix of Leadership to save us from the Darkness. We have a champion far greater than Optimus Prime to save the day. We have the son of God, Jesus Christ, who defeated sin and has brought us out of darkness into light. If we hold onto Jesus, we’ll be standing with the good guys when sin is vanquished once for all. The death and resurrection of Jesus “is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)