Daily Archives: June 25, 2009

Cool article on Anglican Use

His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston-Houston, recently celebrated a pontifical mass for the 25th anniversary of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, the second Anglican Use parish in the US.  This article  discusses the Mass and the Anglican Use in general.

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Catholic Blogger arrested for agreeing with Thomas Jefferson

A blogger from New Jersey, Harold “Hal” Turner, wrote on his blog, regarding the Connecticut legislature’s recent attacks on the Church, that, if such methods were successful, Catholics should “take up arms” against this blatant violation of the First Amendment.  He’s been arrested for “inciting voilence,” even though no such violence has occurred.

Spiritually speaking, I’d agree (if the arms in question are rosaries, religious medals, holy water, blessed salt, personal prayer and virtue, etc.).  Literally speaking, I wouldn’t agree that’s the best response.  And he was being literal, or at least poorly humorous, as he went in in more specific detail.  But what strikes me is that, in the  United States of America, founded by a bunch of guys who took up arms against tyranny, who said that you’re *not* supposed to arrest people for expressing such views, this is now happening, and has really happened for quite some time. 

Is someone going to posthumously charge Thomas Jefferson with “inciting violence” by his proclamation that there should be a bloody revolution every 20 years or so?

“If God made us in His image, who made him?”

Wow. Revenge of the Fallen blows away its predecessor.  Yes, there’s a lot of action, but there’s actually a *story* to it, and it really integrates a lot of elements from 25 years of Transformers

The superstar writing team of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have disappointed me with their mythology-destroying treatments of both Transformers and Star Trek, but this movie made up for it.

The one down side.  My chief gripe about the first movie was the juvenile humor and unnecessarily scatalogical references.  Orci has been nice enough to post occasional messages responding to questions on the TFW2005 boards.  I asked the question of whether they were going to tone down that stuff, and he said no.  In fact, they upped the ante a bit, including a couple points that may even be more crude than the first outing.

The joke through the development of this film, including an early Shortpacked comic, has been the fans wanting “gritty realism” and whatnot, and I have fallen into the camp that this is, fundamentally, a children’s property, and while I’d like to see a certain “realism” and a certain “don’t lose the adults with silliness” aspect ,I’d still like the writers to keep that in mind, the way comic book writers normally do.

Unfortunately, they didn’t.

So, as an adult Transformers fan, speaking for my own enjoyment, I say, “Great film.”  Once again, though, I am hugely disappointed that this is not a film I can show my kids.  Star Wars managed to be hugely successful without this junk.  I guess that’s why today’s jaded fandom didn’t like the Star Wars prequels as much as I did: they were relatively clean.

(Having recently watched the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, I can say that those films are the only ones I’ve seen lately that seem to capture what the original Star Wars trilogy had going for it).

Anyway, on to my review, broken down by cool elements that refer to previous Transformers stories or to pop culture archetypes, but not trying to give away too many spoilers.

Obama’s one of the bad guys

A trope of comic books and many action flicks is the honorable soldiers, while the government are the bad guys.  In the Sunbow Transformers cartoon, after earth became aware of the presence of the Transformers, the Autobots were recognized as heroes.  In the Marvel comic, the US government kept insisting that all Cybertronians were a threat, and refused to acknowledge the difference between Autobots and Decepticons, forming a special military task force to destroy the Transformers.  This was often self-defeating, as the army’s weapons proved ineffective against the Transformers, and the Decepticons had no qualms about fighting back.  But the Autobots wouldn’t defend themselves against humans, so the humans ended up aiding the Decepticons.

This film isn’t so drastic, opting for the cartoon’s approach while keeping top secret.  The Autobots and the US government have a secret alliance and anti-Decepticon task force.  But the new president is wary of the agreement and wants to see all aliens off the planet.  While most such films or comic books use “the President” vaguely, and may use a president who looks or sounds like the current guy in office, they rarely make explicit reference.

This time, in a film where the president is depicted as an officious and closed minded interloper who is impeding the good guys from doing their job, they explicitly use the name “President Obama” at one point.

“You don’t scare me.  I once worked for a man who made your boss look like Little Lord Fauntleroy.”
–“Bess Lowell” on Guiding Light, Fall 2003.

One of my all-time favorite GL quotes was uttered by the retired secretary of the nefarious Brandon Spaulding, speaking to a henchman of Roger Thorpe.  I’d always understood “Little Lord Fauntleroy” as being the male equivalent of “Pollyanna,” an overly optimistic or positive person; hence, Brandon was so bad he made even Roger look like a good guy.  However, according to Wikipedia, even though the reference is inaccurate, it is often used to refer to a spoiled brat.  So, in that reading, Bess was saying that Roger was nothing more than a punk kid compared to the Spauldings.

Well, this movie does that to Megatron.  The term that has infiltrated pop culture for this concept is “Big Bad,” derived from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (i.e., “Big Bad Wolf”).  Like The X-Files, Buffy followed a “monster of the week” format, but had overarching storylines.  Unlike X-Files, those stories usually wrapped up by the end of the season.  So the “Big Bad” was the #1 villain of the season, usually the guy (or gal) whom most of the Monsters of the Week  worked for.

Then there’s the whole Darth Vader echetype, which played up very overtly in this film.

Now, Transformers and G.I. Joe, being originally jointly developed by Hasbro and Marvel, alter certain comic book conventions.  Instead of “A-list” and “B-List” villains and one-time bad guys, both series had most of their bad guys on the same side.  While TF would occasionally feature human villains or other aliens, or forces of nature that the Autobots had to encounter, most bad guys were Decepticons.  It would make more sense if not every evil Transformer were a Decepticon, and, in fact, as the different series have come and gone, non-Decepticon villains have been introduced.

One is “the Fallen.”  The mythology introduced in the first movie, previously discussed on this blog, was that there is a giant Planet who goes around devouring the universe and is actually a really big Transformer, Unicron, so big he had to be voiced as Orson Welles’ last role.  In the comic books, the idea was that Unicron was a “dark god” (we’ll just say “demon”) and God/Primus created the Transformers to fight Unicron.

The Fallen was introduced in the short-lived Dreamwave Transformers series as one of the “original 13” Transformers, a concept that was being introduced in various TF media at the time.  Hasbro liked the Fallen so much they made an action figure of him.  In both cases, the idea was that the Fallen had betrayed Primus to Unicron, and been banished to Hell for it.  So the Fallen in both comic book and toy was on fire all the time.

The early images of the Fallen for this film, and prototype toys displayed, showed him on fire, leading to the hope that this film was introducing that mythology.  It didn’t. 

What it *did* was combine “The Fallen” with “the Liege Maximo,” a “Big Bad” introduced in Marvel’s short-lived Transformers Generation 2 storyling, a character commonly presumed to be among the original 13, if not a parallel universe version of the Fallen (originally, Hasbro and Dreamwave said that the Thirteen were the same entities across the multiverse).

So, when we first see the Fallen in this film, it’s very reminiscent of the introduction of the Maximo in the last issue of TF Gen 2.

So, the Fallen here is a mix of the original character, with the Liege Maximo, with the Emperor in Star Wars.  He’s a cool character.

In one way, it’s cool that a relatively minor character from a comic book written by a bankrupt publisher could ascend to be the title villain in a major motion picture.  On the other hand, there have been so many “Big Bads” or Decepticon usurpers in TF history that it’s a bit of a disappointment we may not see any of the others in the films.

Part of it probably came from a certain kindness to kids and parents on Hasbro’s part.  In both Joe and TF, the original casts included several characters who could be “leaders.”  If you didn’t have the Hawk figure, maybe you had Steeler or Stalker, and later Duke.  If you didn’t have Cobra Commander, Major Bludd or Destro could lead your Cobra troops.  If you didn’t have Optimus Prime, Ironhide or Prowl or Jazz could lead  If not Megatron, then Starscream, Shockwave or even Soundwave.

Plus, as the lines continued, and earlier figures were discontinued, new leaders were introduced.  Back then, a figure ran in stores for two years and was discontinued.  Today, the toy industry works on a different model, with small groups of figures being released every few months, and certain main characters getting many variations, even in the same year (following the successful models of Star Wars and Batman toys).

The movie “killing off” Optimus and Megatron in the TV series, while the comic book tried to keep its own continuity, added to the mix.  So, over time, we’ve had:

Megatron, Shockwave, Starscream, Soundwave (who technically held “commander” rank, and whose filecard alluded to his own ambitions, but he was always depicted as a loyal servant until the end of the G2 comic, and never really “led” anyone but his own team of Tapes), Ratbat (one of Soundwave’s tapes who was just a squeaking bat in the show but became one of the coolest Decepticon leaders in the Marvel series, where he was an oilthirsty fuel auditor), Galvatron (almost always the reincarnation of Megatron, except in his action figure “tech spec,” which was designed to avoid spoilers from the movie; Galvatron appeared in the comic books as actually several time travelers from alternate futures), Lord Straxus (a comic only character), Lord Jhiaxus (comic only), Scorponok (intended as a new ‘Con leader in the 1987 Headmasters line, he got that role across the board, but Beast Wars resurrected the name as a loyal henchman, and the films use the character as a non-talking beastformer character), Thunderwing (minor character used as a de facto big bad when everyone else was dead or otherwise disposed), and Bludgeon (minor toy character who got palyed up in the comic and also rose to be “Pretender to the Throne” as Megs would later put it), plus numerous Japan-exclusive Decepticon leaders.

So, the downside of the Fallen in this film is that a) once again, Starscream doesn’t get to be the “Big Bad”, and b) it precludes us from seeing Shockwave or another cool A-List Decepticon.

The Thirteen (or was it Seven?)

The movie does make the Fallen one of the original TFs, but, in this case, he’s one of the “Seven,” not the “Thirteen.”   But, like the mythology of the Thirteen previously introduced, they all held the rank of Prime.  It is unclear in the film whether Optimus Prime is their “descendant” or their last surviving “brother.”

Originally, the idea of “Prime” as a title was introduced at the end of the animated movie, when Hot Rod became “Rodimus Prime.” Then the comic book gave a list of “Primes”, including “Prima, Prime Nova, Sentinal Prime, Optimus Prime.”  The so-called “Unicron Trilogy,” of the Armada, Energon and Cybertron series (the first time a Transformers storyline was orchestrated across the media and jointly by Hasbro and Takara) introduced “Vector Prime,” who was also one of the Original Thirteen.

Various storylines, particularly out of Japan, but including Robots in Disguise, Unicron Trilogy and the recent IDW comic series, have introduced the idea of a “Nemesis Prime”: alternately an evil clone of Optimus, a version of Optimus from another dimension who serves Unicron and carries a Dark Matrix that contains Unciron’s power instead of Primus’s, or else a former Prime (specifically, Nova) who was corrupted.

Anyway, the idea of the Primes is here, but is only kept to a minimum.

“The Autobot Matrix of Leadership.  It is the one thing–the only thing–that can stand in my way.”
–Unicron, Transformers the Movie (1986).

Due to a certain film whose title I can’t remember, it has generally been presumed that Hasbro is worried about copyright issues over the term “matrix,” particularly in regard to the live action film series.

The idea of a Matrix was first introduced in the Marvel TF comic series.  There, the Creation Matrix was a computer program.  The original idea, later retconned, was that the Matrix was stored inside Optimus Prime’s head.  After Shockwave won the battle at the end of Issue 4, he deactivated the Autobots but kept Optimus Prime’s head alive in suspended animation.  The reason?  He was one of the few Transformers who knew the secret of the Matrix, and he needed Prime’s head to create a new army of warriors.

So when human friend Buster Witwicky snuck into the Ark to get the status of things, Prime transferred the Matrix from his head to Buster’s (more on this later).  Buster went home, and all the electronics in his room (which weren’t much compared to today) went crazy.  Then he went out to his father’s garage, and was able to fix all the cars telekinetically.

It was a major storyline in the early Marvel issues.

Later, the Movie introduced the Matrix to the comic series as an artifact Optimus Prime carried around in his chest (that, along with Optimus Prime’s “death”, were strange considering that Prime had already been destroyed and rebuilt a couple times in the cartoon prior to the film).  It was now the “Matrix of Leadership” and contained a massive power that could “Light our Darkest Hour,” and destroy Unicron.

Prime passed it to Ultra Magnus, a new character based upon recoloring Optimus’s body and adding extra armor. 

Prime takled of “becoming one with the Matrix.”  So, instead of being where Transformers’ souls (or “sparks,” a term that would later be introduced) came from, the Matrix was where they went when they died.

Somehow, Magnus wasn’t changed by the Matrix, either in body or name, but, at the end of the film, Hot Rod got the Matrix, became twice his original size and able to transform into a futuristic truck (or Winnebago?), and got the name “Rodimus Prime.”  

In the miniseries “Five Faces of Darkness,” which introduced the new 1986-87 season after the Movie  and followed up the movie’s events, Rodimus learned how a Prime could go into a trance and enter the Matrix and talk to dead Autobot leaders.

The comic later introduced the idea of “Primus,” the Transformer God.

Other ideas came into the various media: a vast computer called Vector Sigma (which, in the Sunbow cartoon, was where the TFs got their sparks from), another vast computer called the Oracle (in Beast Wars, but that was later explained as being the same as Vector Sigma), and the idea of the Allspark (which was a separate idea of Transformer Heaven). 

The film series, of course, started from scratch with all that, and initially avoided the idea of the “Matrix,” replacing the concept with the Allspark, while varying it a bit. Transformers Animated kept the idea, although it ended with that universe’s Optimus Prime collecting the fragments of the Allspark into a vessel which resembled the G1 Matrix.

This film brings back the Matrix of Leadership, but handles it in a new way, although it *does* involve a vision quest and Dead Primes.

“Nope; I aint never seen anything like this one.”
–Kup (possible paraphrase), Transformers the Movie

Another idea that occasionally comes up is that of an “ancient Transformer,” which is funny considering that they’re *all* ancient, and this is often handled inconsistently.

The comic book contained a few, and they all looked strangely like elderly humans, only metallic.

In the Sunbow series, there was the character of Alpha Trion, who’s been reused in other series since (some speculate he should be one of the Thirteen).  In the Sunbow series, the origin of the Transformers was that they’d been created by a super-intelligent bionic species called the Quintessons: the Autobots were the Quintesson’s worker slaves, and the Decepticons were their army. 

The Autobots revolted, and the Quintessons escaped, taking with them the Sharkticons and a few of their other slaves, colonizing a new world.

A3 was originally Alpha Trion’s slave designation, and he was supposedly the first Transformer to gain fully independent thought.

He was also the Transformer who, later, after the Decepticons began their war for control of Cybertron, rebuilt Orion Pax, a young dock worker who’d been killed by the Cons, into Optimus Prime.

So, in the Sunbow series, the Autobots would go to Alpha Trion if they needed some ancient wisdom that was forgotten by everyone else.

A3 died near the end of the second season.  In the movie, a new “old Transformer” was introduced, Kup, an old soldier (voiced by Lionel Stander, “Max” on Hart to Hart), who liked to grumble and tell old war stories.

The movie combines both characters into that of Jetfire, who also retains other elements as well:

1.  The original Jetfire/Skyfire (a major complicated copyright issue) in Sunbow had been, before the war, a scientist and explorer who was Starscream’s best friend.  The two of them were exploring earth together, millions of years ago, before the war, when Skyfire crashed.  So when he woke up in modern day earth, Starscream tried to convince him to join the Decepticon cause.

2.  In the Marvel comic, Jetfire was built by Shockwave as one of the first Transformers built on Earth, and served the Decepticons as a mindless drone, since Shockwave couldn’t gain access to the Matrix to give him a soul.  In the very mission to retrieve Buster Witwicky and the Matrix, Jetfire did get a dose of Matrix energy from Buster, and, with his soul, decided he was a good guy.

3.  1986 introduced Sky Linx, a giant Autobot who turned into a Space Shuttle and Gantry, which in turn transformed into a giant bird/dinosaur creature and a giant cat creature, or both could join into a dragon thing.

Sky Linx was kind of snooty, literally “above everything,” and spoke with a British accent.

4.  Jetfire, in the series of the first half of this decade, was one of the top Autobot leaders, and almost an Autobot equivalent of Starscream, often jealous of Prime’s authority.  The gimmick of the Energon toyline was “Powerlinx,” where any two characters could combine.  They were interchangeable, but certain characters had favored team-ups.  Jetfire would Powerlink with Optimus Prime.

So, just as the first movie took elements of various Transformers characters and combined them, (Ratchet is kind of Ratchet + Kup; Ironhide is Ironhide + a little Grimlock; Jazz was, well, Jazz; Bumblebee was like Bumblebee + Hot Rod + Wreck Gar; etc), Jetfire combines several of his namesakes with Sky Lynx, Kup and Alpha Trion in this film.

The Twins/Brothers

Transformers, particularly in its early years, has long been marked, like many toy lines ,with the reuse of the same mold in different colors, or with slight adjustments, as different characters.  This really ought to make sense in a series about living robots, just as the early G I Joe figures all looking similar made sense since they were supposed to be soldiers in uniform.

It’s not like Mattel using the same mold for Moss Man and Beast Man but painting black over the fangs.

But out of this came the idea of “Brothers,” usually stated vaguely, and often with the origin unclear.  Animated was probably the first series to explicitly discuss Transformers looking alike if they came out of the same mold during their construction.

In the original series, Sunstreaker and Sideswipe, both of whom turned into Lamborghinis, referred to each other as “brothers” (though they were not the only characters in that mold).  The most famous case were the “Seekers”: the original six Decepticon Jets, all of which were based on the Starscream mold.  Ever since then, it’s been customary to recolor other versions of Starscream as those characters and others.  Also, since Ultra Magnus was originally a recolor of Optimus Prime, almost every series has introduced a white recolor of Prime as Magnus.

Well, almost every series has had its “brothers,” or Twins, a pair of Autobots who look similar and have a certain affinity, and this film is no exception.

The Witwicky Kid(s)

OK, first there was Buster Witwicky in the comic, discussed above; there was also Spike Witwicky on TV.  In the movie, set 20 years after the first 2 seasons, Spike was all grown up and had a son named Daniel.
When a figure of Spike was introduced as part of the Headmasters line in 1987, as the bionically enhanced human who transformed into the head of Cerebros, who in turn transformed into the head of the giant Fortress Maximus, Spike was introduced to Marvel comics as Buster’s older brother who came home from college for the weekend only to find his father and brother missing in an alien war, and himself forever altered as part of that war.

In the TV show, Spike volunteered to be so altered, without seeking consent from his wife Carly.  His son Daniel was paralyzed and mortally wounded, so, to save his life, they turned Daniel into a Headmaster.

I kept wondering in this film if they were going to surprise everyone by combining Sam with Optimus Prime.

They certainly used a bit of the Daniel story-it makes sense, since we humans really are fragile, and they used a *lot* of the original Buster story.  That idea is the driving force behind this film.

Meanwhile, Shia LaBeouf must really be trying to parlay himself into the “next Harrison Ford”. First he does the Indiana Jones film, which I still havent’ seen, but, from what I’ve read, it’s indicated that he may be the star of a new film series as the next “Indiana Jones.”  And now he stars in the sequel of a space opera (note the Darth Vader/Emperor references above) where a subplot involves his inability to tell his girlfriend that he loves her.  Star Wars references abound in this film. 

There’s also a GI Joe reference in the form of “Kung Fu Grip.”
And there’s a “swine flu” reference that was probably dubbed in at the last minute. 

Soundwave: “Soundwave Superior; Constructicons Inferior!”
Constructicons: “Who are you calling inferior?  Nobody would follow an uncharismatic boor like you!”
Rumble and Frenzy: “Hey!  Nobody calls Soundwave Uncrasimatic!”  “Let’s kick Tailgate!”
-Transformers the Movie, 1986.

Two characters/groups whose absence disappointed fans in the first film, especially given some references, were Soundwave and the Constructicons.

In the original series, Soundwave was roughly the same size as Prime, Megatron, and Shockwave.  But he  transformed into a tape deck (see below).  He had a set of minions who converted into cassette tapes, and, when they turned into cassettes, could either stay the same size or shrink to the size of a real cassette.  Either way, they all managed to fit into his chest at once.  They included Laserbeak and Buzzsaw (condors; same mold in different colors); Rumble and Frenzy (humanoids; same mold, different colors); Ravage (Jaguar); later the aforementioned Ratbat (bat) , Slugfest and Overkill (dinosaurs), and others. 

The first movie had “Frenzy” as a small Decepticon spy who changed into a boom box, and then, after he lost much of his body in battle with the humans, a cell phone.

This movie has Soundwave as a giant spy satellite.  We never see him in robot mode, but we see his head.  It is rumored that the original Soundwave toy–which was actually one of the biggest toys of the original line–was meant to be the Decepticon leader, which is why the Decepticon symbol looks so much like his face. 

Soundwave spends the entire movie in space, coordinating Decepticon spy efforts and attaching himself to a US military satellite.  But he deploys various smaller transformers out of himself, including Ravage.

When the first stills of Ravage appeared several months ago, someone on a TF board (I think it was TFW2005) combined him to the robotic love child of an “Alien” and a hellhound, and that about describes him.  He looks really impressive in the film.  But he never gets to do much that’s impressive.  He *does* cough up an even smaller Decepticon like a hairball (literally a bunch of small metal balls), a tiny infiltrator known as “the Doctor.”

On the other end of the spectrum, we never see the Constructicons in individual Robot modes.  There is a robot early in the film who looks like a Constructicon, and is pretty huge, but apparently isn’t one of them. But Devastator is really impressive. (One issue with Devastator was that the name was used in the 2007 film for the Decepticon tank character ,but that character was given several names in various rewrites and such).

Anyway, Devastator is cool.  Being a partly Japanese franchise, Transformers has always had certain references to King King and Godzilla, most notably the original “Citybots,” Metroplex and Trypticon, or the “Headmaster Horrorcons” Apeface and Slugfest.

So, in this film, Devastator looks like a giant ape, fulfilling the King Kong type.  There is also another nod to the original animated movie, where characters fly through Unicron’s eyes.

The Size Question

OK, scale has always been a complicated issue in Transformers.  Hasbro and Marvel created the characters, but the toys were designed by Takara in Japan and licensed to Hasbro.  Since Hasbro’s storyline was so successful, Takara licensed the characters back from Hasbro.

Takara’s original line was a spin off of its brand Microman (Micronauts in the US), which was about tiny toy-sized people from another world coming to Earth.  So the original Transformers toys were supposed to be “to scale.”  The toy that became Megatron really was the size of a gun.  The toys that became known as autobots were supposed to turn into toy cars, not real cars, etc.

So there was no concern for scale, and Hasbro, though they made various attempts at conforming scale, has never really cared about it.

This leads to both some weird things in the toys as well as some difficult to explain concepts in the media, such as the aforementioend deal of Soundwave and his cassettes reducing in size to a regular size tape deck and cassettes, or Megatron shrinking to be a handgun for other Decepticons or even shrinking to be the size of a human handgun.

Even vehicle modes had to involve a certain degree of “mass shifting,” which has even become a concept overtly discussed in some of the comics.

In the toy line, the characters that were suppoesd to be “cities” were more like small buildings, serving only as buildings relative to the smallest transformers.  “Gestalts” like Devastator (transformers where a bunch of individuals formed giants) were made from teams of toys taht were really small, so the combined robot, allegedly a giant, might actually be smaller than some of the bigger transformers (such as Ultra Magnus in his body armor).  Often there were inconsistencies within such teams, such as the various sizes of jets among the Aerialbots or the various sizes of vehicles among the Combaticons.

What this film does is throw taht to the wind, instead having Transformers of all shapes and sizes.  There’s even a bug-sized Insecticon. 
There’s the character of “Wheelie,” who actually turns into a toy truck. 

So that’s a cool thing, which leads me to

Pretender Transformers: They’ve got the Power to Surprise!

1988 saw the introduction of “Pretenders,” transformers who had partially organic shells they could use to add another element of disguise on alien worlds.  But the Pretenders carried with them an inherent paradox: if they were suppoesd to “blend in” on Earth, how could they be “normal sized” Transformers?  Or did the robots mass-shift when they went into their shells?

Some of the cartoon ads suggested that Pretenders *were* smaller than others, even though the toys were some of the biggest.

The comic book skirted this issue by downplaying the Autobot Pretenders, having them encountering giant humans on alien worlds, and by using the Decepticon Pretenders, which turned into Monsters, for more King Kong homages.

This film brings that element, along with the related idea of a Transformer who “changes into” a human as found in Animated.

Protoforms

Beast Wars introduced the idea of Protoforms, which were a major Macguffin of that series.  When the Predacons and Maximals crashed on earth, the Maximal ship had a bunch of Maximal Protoforms on it, and both sides were trying to retrieve them.  Due to the high cost and complexity of even simple CGI “way back” in 1997/1998, the Beast Wars series kept its cast to a minimum. 

The Predacons, if they found a Protoform, could reprogram it as a Predacon.

As time has gone on, that’s become an integral part of various TF universes, where Protoforms are understood to be the early forms of TFs when they’re first created.  The first film used the term “Protoform” to refer to the Transformer’s core body, which could be adapted to any environment.

This film shows, in a scene on a ship, a whole bunch of protoforms in stasis, depicted like typical movie alien “hives,” but also alluding to Beast Wars, Animated, and other series that have used the concept.

“That beverage they drink–Energon”
The president of Carbombia in an episode of Sunbow Season 3.

In the Marvel comics, Energon was the only substance Transformers could use for fuel, and other energy sources had to be adapted to it.  In early Sunbow episodes, it was implied that the Decepticons invented it while on earth, as away of storing earth’s energy resources they stole, but later retconned to the comic book explanation.

In Beast Wars, the Maximals and Predacons travelled to ancient earth, because ancient earth was full of “raw energon” (the series also claimed that that was why the original TFs who came to earth did so). 
The IDW and Dreamwave comics, have also used similar concepts about ancient earth being rich with energon in a particularly potent form, whether natural or put there by someone.

Then there’s the idea of Unicron going around eating planets, or the every couple episodes story on the original Sunbow series, where Megatron had some device that would collect all the power out of the Sun, or the earth itself, destroying earth in the process.

This film puts that all together for a slightly new mythology, while keeping the idea that Energon is necessary for Transformer life.

“You’ve Got the Touch!

For both films, one-hit-wonder Stan Bush has tried to get on the soundtrack album and failed.  Though he did appear at the Botcon “Paramount Party,” and he released a music video of a contemporary alternative rock style update of “The Touch”, using clips from the new film.

It’s appropriate, as there direct references.

First, there’s a full-fledged homage to the original “One shall stand; one shall fall” fight: Prime takes on a bunch of Decepticons at the same time.  He literally cuts through them: not driving them down in truck mode, but cutting through them with an energy sword.  But Megatron cuts him in the side just as in the first film.  Of course, in that iconic scene, “the Touch” played in the background.

And, at the ending of this film, there’s a cool scene involving Prime, Sam and the Matrix that really had the song playing in my head as I watched.

So, there’s my analysis of Revenge of the Fallen

“I knew you had potential, lad!”
–Kup, Transformers the Movie (1986)

St. Teresa of Avila on Being Calumniated

“I am always happier that they speak about what is not true of me than the truth” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 15, para. 3).