COMPANY: The Asylum
RUNTIME: 90 mins
PLOT: In this prequel to the first movie, the robot invaders attack Earth in the present day, forcing a group of humans to band together and seek refuge as their planet falls.
REVIEW: After having defeated the alien robot menace at the end of the first Transmorphers, there was only one direction to go for Transmorphers: Fall of Man – back in time. For this outing with the giant killer alien robots, instead of a full-on war movie like the first was, we get to see the original invasion that is talked about in the first movie, so it plays more as a global disaster movie then a war movie, and while I love both of those kinds of movies, it doesn't lend to as much over-the-top silly fun battle scenes. Instead we get a very slow start and when things do actually start to happen it's mostly chase scenes of various kinds – foot chases, car chases, air chases, ect, which in my opinion, isn't as fun to watch as futuristic battle scenes, and gets redundant and boring after awhile. Luckily though, the last 20 minutes gives way a bit more to robot war scenes as a pocket of surviving humans launch a guerrilla assault on a nearby alien robot terraforming plant.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself, so let me start back in the beginning of the movie. The first thing that I noticed in this, is that the backstory on the invasion is actually quite different then how it was said to be in the first movie. In the first movie, it was said that we detected alien life and sent out a message for peace, which was answered by an invasion force and the destruction of our planet. In this movie however, it says/shows that we shot down a UFO over Roswell in the 40's and reversed engineered its technology to create all modern-day appliances and machines. However, that was just a plan by the alien robots to integrate into our society and thus, machines start coming alive and attacking people before sending out a signal to flag the invasion force, which arrives towards the end of the movie. I look at it this way: The events in this movie are the real events behind the fall of Earth, where-as the events mentioned in the first movie are diluted by 400 years of the Chinese Whisper game and thus, the story has changed over time, whether on purpose or not, to make humans think the attack was 100% unprovoked and they were as innocent as pie.
Another difference between the two movies is that the first was a mockbuster in name-only and the movie itself really had nothing at all to do with cashing in on the success of Transformers. This one however had every intent of doing just that. This time, the robots actually transform into modern stuff like vehicles and satellite dishes and the like. There is even a small spider-like cellphone robot that is very obviously a rip-off of Frenzy from Transformers. However, that's all perfectly fine by me. I don't watch a movie titled Transmorphers: Fall of Man and expect Steven Spielberg level of filmmaking. Plus it put forward an interesting idea – How would Transformers have gone, had it only been the Decepticons on Earth and no Autobots? Pretty much exactly as it does here: Total Pwnage of the human race. But with less of a budget.
However, despite the low budget, the movie still manages to look nice. The transforming – errr, transmorphing I mean – really allows The Asylum to show off just how far they've come with their special effects over the last few years, which is miles ahead of what they used to be back when they had made the original Transmorphers. Sure, they may look like shit compared to Michael Bayplosion's transforming effects, but as far as Asylum movies go – the transmorphing effects look excellent. The acting is also a huge improvement over the first movie for the most part, but still not close to the best I've seen from this company. Over all, I'd rank it in the middle, with the occasional really bad actor (Government scientist lady, I'm looking at you). The improved acting at least helped make the characters come across as more realistic and almost like actual people, however the horrible dialog they were given kind of took that realistic approach away again.
Which brings me to my first major problem – the script. Yes, I realize this is an Asylum movie and I'm not expecting cinematic gold or anything, but it still felt to me like one of their worst-written movies. See, one of the strong points of the first movie I had mentioned in my review for that, were the characters. They were likable and interesting and the script made you care for them. I didn't give a shit about any of the characters in this movie, and a large part of that had to do with how badly written they all were. From their actions (What kind of cable repairman carries a friggin' gun in his tool box just in case there happens to be an alien invasion?), to the absolutely dreadful dialog (There is actually a scene where the Government scientist lady describes the difference between an extraterrestrial and an alien is that an extraterrestrial attacks like a friend and an alien attacks like an enemy), as well as horribly stupid plot devices (When told that the satellite dish in the back yard was really an evil alien robot, the Sheriff just instantly believes them), Transmorphers: Fall of Man really comes across as having been written by the laziest writer in the world with no care taken in respect to the first movie beyond giving the main character the same last name as a character from that movie (In this movie he's the main male lead, while in that movie it was the lesbian female General, who I guess is now considered a descendant of this guy).
My other major problem consists of the fact that we never actually see any of the cities being attacked by the evil alien robots. We follow the main characters as they start to unravel the fact that there's a secret invasion going on, they get chased to a military base by a jeep that's a Transmorpher that results in, admittedly, a rather cool action scene in which they destroy the thing but not before it destroyed pretty much everyone and everything in that base and sent a signal out to call in the invasion shock troops. Then as the invasion begins shortly after, but without actually seeing any of it and only hearing about it through dialogue, we follow those main characters as they get out of town and immediately locate a 'hidden' refuge (that was easier to find then Easter eggs on Easter Morning) just outside of the city made up of survivors of the city invasion that we never even got to see. Despite the invasion having just happened, they act like they've been out in the desert for forever. The entire segment was a horrible cop-out that had me severely disappointed. Now it may just be me, but in a movie called Fall of Man, I expect to actually see the fall of man instead of hearing about it in shitty throw-away dialog.
But back to some positives as I like to try to leave my reviews off on a high note. After that cop out of not actually getting to see the invasion, the survivors get word of the Transmorphers setting up terraforming plants all over the world, to change the planet to one that can sustain them. Finding out that one of these plants are nearby (Again, just when exactly did they set these plants up? The invasion just flippin' started 5 minutes ago), they put together a small strike force and head back into the city to take it out, leading to my favorite action scene of the movie, with some pretty gripping kick-ass action beats. This climatic scene alone felt more like the first movie then anything else in this one did. If the rest of the movie had been as good as these final 15 minutes, I wouldn't have many complaints.
I've also noticed that these more recent Asylum movies have started having really good musical scores to them, some of which I'd actually wish they would release on CD so I could buy. There's some that even though the movie is absolute garbage, the score is fantastic and it really helps bring a sub-par movie up to par at times. While there isn't much score in this movie the few tidbits that we do get, especially at the very beginning and the very end, show great promise and I wish we had gotten more of it because it really deserved to be showcased more.
Overall, while the movie improved in some areas over the first, the horrible script brought it down many notches, so I can't really bring myself to give it a better score. From a technical aspect it is definitely better, but from an entertainment stand point I found it not as good as the first Transmorphers and couldn't help but feel a tad let down. Hopefully with Transformers: Dark of the Moon coming out later this year, we'll get a Transmorphers 3 that takes place between this movie and the first, and if made right, it will take the best aspects from this movie, the best aspects from the first movie, and combine them together to form one really kick ass Transmorphers 3. However I wouldn't count on it, as I believe The Asylum reps have stated they're done making sequels.
Alas, I can still hope.
5/10 rooms in the Psych Ward