Anti-Hero in a Half-Shell (Plus a review of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"!)

Last weekend, I was hanging out with Dave, filling his wallet full of my hard-earned cash, in exchange for some action figures that he had picked up for me, and buying some of his unwanted toys as well. He gave me a pretty good deal on a bunch of Transformers and Gobots, but feeling that I needed to evacuate more money from my pocket, I also bought a TMNT figure from him–Slash, the evil Ninja Turtle (not to be confused with Tokka). FYI, Slash started off as a villain, but later became something of an anti-hero, hence the title of today’s post:

This is 100% digital, painted in Photoshop. I kept Slash’s details pretty close to his toy incarnation, with a few exceptions… I gave his crude claws a bit more gritty detail (added twine and a wood spacer, in addition to the claws/wrappings), and I interpreted his octagonal belt buckle as a representation of the eight trigrams diagram, with the Taijitu in the center. In retrospect, I don’t know why I didn’t detail the belt buckle with the actual trigrams. I guess I got caught up in Taijitu madness. Lastly, I did not give Slash magenta weapons, but instead threw in a magenta light source as a nod to his garishly colored acsessories. I considered putting some magenta in his wardrobe, but decided that might create confusion with Donatello‘s signature purple.

Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about this one… I’m happy with certain parts, like his bandanna, and the rendering on his iron belt and wooden shoulder pads. On the other hand, I just don’t know if the piece works as a whole. Thoughts?

While you’re mulling it over, here’s a review:

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (In theaters now!)

I know that I have done my job informing the public that I’m a **huge Transformers geek when I am asked to weigh in on the movie by almost everyone I know. But enough of my self-congratulatory dorkiness, on with the review…

My experience with enjoying entertainment is that you have to have your expectations calibrated properly… I went into this movie expecting more robots and better robot fights, but also expecting more unnecessary toilet humor. I was right on both counts. Let’s break this down a bit–

Action… The fights from the first movie were widely criticized as being too chaotic and unintelligible. I said that myself, in my review. However, in subsequent viewings on DVD, I found that the fights were very easy to read–on a smaller screen. The battles in Revenge of the Fallen were better on the big screen (but still unintelligible at times), so I expect they will be even better on DVD. The tone of the fights brought the brutality of the first movie to a new level–the stakes are higher, the casualties are worse, and nobody is holding back–not the good guys, not the bad guys, and certainly not the folks who handled the movie’s record-breaking computer generated effects. The Autobots and Decepticons pull off many flashy, devastating combat maneuvers, and the results are spectacular.

Robots… there were sooo many new Transformers in this movie, and with a variety of sizes and body types/alternate modes. They got tons of screentime, but surprisingly few lines of dialogue–hopefully in the presumed sequel, the Transformers will get some more character development. But even so, more, diverse robots is a step in the right direction.

The toilet humor… or “edgy, adult” humor, if you prefer to be delusional, was unnecessary in the first movie, and even worse, totally unfunny. The bad news is that Revenge of the Fallen, unfortunately, has about ten times more toilet humor. The good news is that the crude jokes are occasionally funny, unlike the first go-round. The other bad news is that whether or not it’s funny, the jokes are still totally out of place, and add nothing. The really disappointing thing is that the non-toilet humor in the film is actually very charming and endearing, and more of that would have served the film better.

Story… there’s no two ways about it, there’s a lot of sloppy storytelling and bad editing in this movie. It doesn’t have any egregious plotholes–but there are several instances of questionable storytelling decisions that create unecessary ambiguity. However, the movie has good pacing–it marched forward at a good clip, and there weren’t any real lulls.

Verdict: For me, it was Awesome. But I’m not gonna lie–your mileage will vary. Since that fateful day in 1984 when I first discovered Transformers, I’ve been quietly rearranging my brain-space to more efficiently harvest Transformers information. In all honesty–I do not, blindly love everything with a Transformers label on it, but I am able to enjoy whatever good that does exist in the franchise, moreso than many fans that I have encountered. I’d like to think that I’m also capable of honest criticism, in spite of my affection for the franchise, but that shall ultimately be up to you to judge, dear reader. If you’re capable of enjoying mindless fun and eye candy, with some flawed storytelling, this is for you. For anyone else–save it for a rental, or a cable viewing. And specifically for the haters–please, don’t go just so you can smugly tell your friends, “I told you it would be terrible.” Save your money!

For More Transformers Goodness, But With A Totally Different Approach: Watch Transformers Animated! It’s charming, light-hearted, filled with references for long-time fans, but at the same time, totally accessible to n00bs.

**Actually, I’m not huge–just 5’8, 155 pounds. Yes, these are the jokes, folks. My sincerest apologies.

One thought on “Anti-Hero in a Half-Shell (Plus a review of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"!)

  1. David Yeh says:

    Great picture of Slash! Now buy the rest of my TMNT figures so you will have a never ending supply of cool stuff to draw!

    But wait… did you say I gave you a GOOD deal? I demand more money!

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