Revenge Of The Fallen Robots
By Anthony Breznican, USA TODAY
It’s always the quiet ones you need to fear.
Ninjas. Serial killers. Boba Fett. Gastrointestinal functions.
In Transformers lore, the mechanical jaguar Ravage has been a villain favorite since the 1980s for his stealthy tactics and deadly force. Ever since a four-legged mechanical beast prowled through the trailer for summer’s sequel, Revenge of The Fallen, fans have been awaiting more word about the feline-ish Decepticon. As more robots in the June 24 movie are revealed, Ravage comes into focus.
“In the spirit of ‘more than meets the eye,’ Ravage isn’t just lethal because of his sharp teeth,” says screenwriter Alex Kurtzman. “There’s actually another skill set Ravage has that didn’t exist before, so there’s going to be a surprise for fans.”
This version of the cat already looks far different from the original, with a single glowing red eye and a swinging, mace-like tail, but his role will be similar to the 1980s cartoon and Hasbro toy — the ultimate spy.
Ravage often was dispatched to monitor the heroic Autobots and their human allies, reporting back to the Decepticons by transforming into a cassette tape and replaying his recordings through the larger robot master Soundwave, who switched into a Walkman-sized tape deck. (How a giant robot became a small piece of sound equipment was a comical hole in logic never fully explained.)
The cassette tape transformation is gone, of course; Ravage doesn’t turn into anything. But Soundwave will appear, again serving as an evil communications expert but this time in the form of an orbiting space satellite.
“They are still connected,” fellow screenwriter Roberto Orci says of Soundwave and his pet. “But rather than trying to hold onto a notion as antiquated as an audiotape, which some members of our audience have maybe never laid eyes on, we wanted to go a new way.”
And Ravage, as before, won’t speak like the other Transformers.
“We wanted to stay true to the idea that Decepticons who take visual clues from beasts maintain that,” says Orci. “It would be strange to have a talking jaguar, or a scorpion with an English accent.”
Filmmaker Michael Bay has ensured that Ravage has lots of company, including many redesigned favorite robots from the original 1980s incarnation, in the new film.
“We have big guys, some little guys. We have a lot of littler ones, too. Little weirder ones,” Bay says. Like the Insecticons, which were giant bugs in the original series and Hasbro toy line, but are now tiny creepy-crawly infiltrators.
Bay, who collects the Vanguard Award Thursday night at ShoWest, offers a peek at others joining Optimus Prime and Bumblebee for another rock-’em, sock-’em robo-brawl.
AUTOBOTS (the good guys)
As in the original, this fighter plane crash-landed on Earth a long time ago, and he will become a reformed Decepticon now fighting for the humans. His alternate form is the SR-71 Blackbird, the outdated but still-sleek Cold War spy plane.
“He’s old, craggy, forgetful … doesn’t work very well. Can’t transform very well, because he’s very geriatric. They get stuck with him a lot,” Bay says. “He knows the plan of the bad guys, but he forgets all the good parts of the plan.”
Sideswipe, a candy-apple red Lamborghini in the original, joins the cast this time as General Motor’s silver Corvette Stingray concept car. Jolt is a new foot soldier, played in four-wheel form by the Volt, a forthcoming Chevy hybrid plug-in. Two of GM’s other concept cars (the Trax and Beat) play The Twins, nicknamed Skids and Mudflap.
“Some of the junior Transformers are just dumb,” Bay says with a laugh. “But it’s great for kids because they’re like the Little Engine That Could. They’re (screw)-ups, but they get really heroic at the end.”
For the gals:
Arcee is the only female and turns up as Megan Fox’s hot-pink motorcycle. Co-screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci say she was in an early draft of the first movie. “But we felt we needed to win the audience over before asking for that suspension of disbelief: a feminine alien robot,” Kurtzman says.
DECEPTICONS (the bad guys)
The title character:
The Fallen is an ancient robot, sort of the Transformers’ version of Lucifer. He’s one of the original robot aliens, and his defiance and arrogance led to his banishment into another dimension.
The screenwriters say that The Fallen holds the key to life on both Earth and Cybertron, the Transformers’ home planet.
A smaller, but no less malevolent Decepticon is known as The Doctor — a spider-like droid that transforms into various implements of torture and has a not-so-nice encounter with star Shia LaBeouf.
Then there’s a giant one called Demolishor, and another tinier one with the sportier name of Wheelie.
These seven robots — Scavenger, Scrapper, Hightower, Longhaul, Rampage, Overload and Mixmaster — transform into construction machinery, but also link up with one another to form one gigantic robot stomper named Devastator.
“He’s made of vehicles designed to build, and he turns into is someone who loves to destroy,” Orci says. “He is an agent of absolute chaos.”
Bay says Devastator is the crème de la smash and got a uncharacteristic reaction out of the film’s executive producer already.
“Spielberg saw it and said, ‘This is (expletive) awesome!’ ” Bay says, and adds: “It’s always nice when you can make him swear.”