This isn’t one of those normal drawn-out movie reviews. A movie like Transformers doesn’t need it really. It’s a summer blockbuster that costs a lot to make in hopes of making a lot of money, which it probably will. Director Micheal Bay packs in a whole bunch of action sequences, enough to blow you away at what technology can do these days. The storyline and even a lot of the dialog that tried to go for the constant big laugh was at best unreliable and at worst, just didn’t add up. But again, it’s a blockbuster. It doesn’t have to make sense. As long as the cars, the girls and robot fights all look great, no one in the audience will notice. And indeed, it’s packed with all of that to the point where it feels like junk food: you know it’s bad for you but it tastes pretty damn good. Also, Micheal Bay’s trademark spin-the-camera-around-the-protagonist will make you dizzy till you drop in this movie. It’s much more racy than it’s predecessor so it’s not exactly a family-friendly film with all the profanity and sexuality. In the end, you walk out two and a half hours later high as a kite, believing you just had a great movie-going experience, only to wake up the next day and wonder what you were thinking. You start thinking strange things like, why did some of the robots speak like Rastafarians?
The rest of this review is dedicated to the issue of the movie being shot in Jordan and may contain some spoilers.
So what makes this film remotely unique is that a decent portion of it is filmed right here in Jordan. At one point the plot has the heroes going back and forth between Jordan and Egypt to the point where foreign audiences can’t tell where they are any more and local movie-goers are confused: ok, so where are they now? Ah, yes. That looks like Al-Salt. No. Wait a minute. We’re in Cairo.
No one will tell the difference except for Egyptians and Jordanians.
The audience in Amman applauded when the heroes were suddenly transported through time and space to find themselves in Wadi Rum, which the story passes off as Egypt. They then head to the pyramids, only to find themselves back to Petra, which they thankfully credit as being Jordanian. It’s a new world wonder you know. Megan Fox then hides out briefly with her co-stars in Al-Salt, dressed as one character puts it “like a ninja”. And you can probably figure out what that’s referring to.
Back in the white desert of Egypt, American troops are busy fighting about 40 Decepticons at once, and while the robots are about 100 times bigger, stronger and technologically advanced, the Americans survive. At one point it seems they might be in a tough spot, and suddenly, out of the pale blue sky, two Jordanian helicopters come to the rescue, with one of the Americans on the ground yelling: “The Jordanians are here!”
About three seconds later those helicopters come crashing down due to a single Decepticon.
It was indeed a deception. Just when you think that a Hollywood film might let an Arab be a hero by saving American troops, you realize that wasn’t the point of the scene. The point was to create a contrast by showing how weak everyone else in the world is. Because the scene that follows is basically a two-minute montage of American military might coming to the rescue. From jets, to aircraft carriers, tanks, hovercrafts, and heck, even a top-secret ray gun that you can apparently have launched simply by making an anonymous call to the ship’s captain like one character did.
The movie tends to highlight my main problem with American action movies, especially these science-fiction/comic book blockbusters.
Since 9/11 these movies have been over-loaded with pro-American sentiments. From flags to American military prowess to the only-we-can-save-the-world ideals. The American military goes in to any country it wants to in a moment’s notice, shooting their guns wildly in a desert while Egyptians either flee for cover or are no where to be seen.
Enough already. We get it.
American filmmakers should also get it. These blockbuster movies are now more international than ever before. Most of a movie’s money is made in international markets than in the US. And in case they haven’t noticed, America isn’t exactly the most loved country throughout the majority of the world. Shoving “USA #1” sentiments down our throats isn’t appreciated.
Lastly, if you’re going to film in Jordan or any other Arab country for that matter, at least credit the locations. I hate movies that film elsewhere and pretend that it’s another country. Audiences are not stupid. Stop treating them as such.
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” reminds of a lot of the things wrong with American blockbusters these days. Then again, last year’s “Dark Knight” seemed to get it right, proving you can make a blockbuster with an interesting plot, interesting actors, interesting action sequences, without following the pro-America path down in to the dark abyss from which it emerged.