by, 4th July 2009 at 11:32 PM (272 Views)
I've been a fan of Alan Dean Foster's work for a while now, although I haven't picked up any of his books in a few years. So when I found out he was writing all the Transformers Movieverse books, I was interested. I mostly read Ghosts of Yesterday and later The Veiled Threat because The Reign of Starscream piqued my interest in the Movieverse's ancillary fiction. Both were good, albeit not stellar. But when ROTF came out, and got a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (normally I give movies the benefit of the doubt, but I didn't like the first one, and according to the reviews, everything bad then was even worse now), I decided to pick up the novelization, hoping to absorb most of the awesome while avoiding most of the lame.
I finished it today, and it seems like I was right. I'll post my thoughts here. Note that this will be chock-full of SPOILERS for anyone who hasn't seen the movie or read some adaptation of it.
There were a few scenes I would have rather left out, like Judy Witwicky running around high on brownies. But scenes I thought I'd find objectionable, like the frat party near the beginning, was at least somewhat incorporated into building up to the main plot. Skids and Mudflap don't seem to be too major, and they're definitely overshadowed by Bumblebee (Silverwynde, I've got to hand it to you; he kicks more ass than I knew existed this time around), so I can only assume ADF downplayed them from the screenplay (or that they're not as bad as people make them out to be). Still could have definitely done without their odd manner of speech. And while Simmons does use the word "scrotum" in combat, at least there are no wrecking balls.
In fact, Simmons is about 900% more awesome than last movie. He goes up against Devastator by himself. He may be crazy, but running towards something that large to help guide a big-ass railgun towards it takes courage. Leo, too, was improving near the end; he got into Mudflap right alongside Simmons. (Or was it Skids? I get the feeling that ADF transposed the twins, since he has Skids burst from Devastator's eye, while TFwiki says it was Mudflap). At any rate, I'm wondering now if we won't see a Mudflap/Simmons human alliance figure. I'd have to look into it.
The action was definitely there from start to finish. Well... OK, that's a lie. The opening scene felt forced. All through the last issue of Alliance, as well as The Veiled Threat, I was wondering, would the Autobots really take this "no prisoners" approach to fighting? I mean, Sideways didn't even attack, at first; he was just fleeing. Would it really have been so hard to subdue and capture at least some of them? Also, Optimus dropping from a plane, while cool, felt like the kind of thing an eight-year-old would come up with. I can see Bay now: "So the Autobots are blowing crap up, and the Decepticons are all like 'oh shit!' and they run off, and then there's this plane, and OPTIMUS DROPS OUT OF IT! And then he kills Demolishor. Oh, and... Sideways dies, too."
Coming off of that, Sideways and Demolishor died way too early, given how much time and energy has been spent hyping them up (some of that could be on the part of the fans, I'll admit, but...). Same with Sideswipe and Arcee, who get a few lines here and there, but not really any characterization. This is one thing I was worried about: this movie has many more robots than the last one, but they all have the same amount of personality between them. I mean, the Constructicons don't even get speaking roles; the ones that form Devastator are there only to form Devastator. More Transformers is nice, but as easy as it might be to refer to them as robots, they do have personalities, and it'd be nice to see them fleshed out not only in comic books.
But anyway, that first scene aside, I enjoyed the action scenes. Grindor falls into the same trap as Sideways and Demolishor, only with less hype. It was nice to see my favorite character, Starscream, kick some ass. Megatron confused me, though. Did he have both tank and jet modes? Or was he just flying in robot mode? And The Fallen was disappointing. He has an untouchable feel about him, but when he finally appears, Optimus roflpwns him. Jetfire, on the other hand, was awesome (again, Silverwynde, you called it). I'm now considering picking up the Legends toys of him and Optimus. Ransack's scene was... disappointing, but I guess I can't expect more. It was nice to see extra scenes like this, as well as the explanation of Alice, that had been added to the novel (or rather, removed from the movie).
So, I enjoyed the novel. I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy the movie in comparison, but I'd definitely recommend it. If, like me, you're not sure about the movie, this will tide you over until the DVD comes out and you can rent it.
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