Editor’s Note: This review does contain spoilers.
During a scene in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen John Turturro’s (The Taking of Pelham 123, Margot at the Wedding) character demands an autobot to reveal the “plot” and “get to the point”. This is one of the only scenes in the film in which I could genuinely relate to. As we move from scattered and tedious action scenes to cringe-worthy conversations I was desperately pleading for something in the film to have some sort of motivation behind it. That moment never occurred and Revenge of the Fallen devolved into a complete disaster of a film. The main problem lies with Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman’s (Star Trek, Mission Impossible 3) script, but they aren’t all to blame. Michael Bay’s (Transformers, Bad Boys 2) mind-numbing action scenes are somehow inferior to those of the first film, having little energy, and even less comprehension behind them.
The barely understandable plot follows Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye, Indiana Jones IV), going to college and trying to work out things with Mikaela Banes, played by Megan Fox (How To Lost Friends & Alienate People, Transformers). He somehow finds a scrap of the Allspark from the first film, which ignites him into full psycho mode, writing symbols everywhere. The rest of the film we are led to believe the Decepticons can only take over the world by getting a device called “The Matrix of Leadership” (how long did that take to come up with?), which can only be found through Sam’s brain.
It’s a wonder how a project could go so wrong. The first Transformers is an enjoyable summer blockbuster, mired by bad dialogue and obnoxious characters. Be prepared, nothing in the first film even touches the absurdity of what occurs in this new addition. Paramount should hire a physical therapist after every showing to fix the damage caused by the endless headshaking during the excruciating two and half hours. It’s difficult to fathom how such a big budget blockbuster with a solid first entry can take so many wrong turns.
Despite the many problems this film has a few marvels. ILM has produced some real magic here. All the CG elements, especially the robots, are perfectly integrated into the film. It’s too bad every other piece of the movie distracts and ruins the spectacle. In the same vein, Shia LaBeouf is, by default, the true star here. It’s hard to tell if he actually has lasting star power or, because every other character is so ridiculous and irritating, that he is the only one worth watching. Still, he is charming, engaging and able to pull us through the mediocre action scenes.
Playing Sam’s girlfriend is the barely conscious Megan Fox. In the first film she was simply eye candy alongside Sam. Somehow the writers thought, for this film, it would be a good idea to give her full conversations in which she had to be a convincing actress. This all falls apart in one particular scene where she has to act mad at Sam because she catches him cheating on her at college. After running, in high heels, from a robot that was ripped straight out of the Terminator series, Megan Fox has a painfully awkward exchange with Sam about the event. One can tell that the only thing that mattered in the scene was if Megan Fox had the exact right eye-shadow, lipstick, and tan.
The idea of acting as an afterthought was a running motif in the film. This can be seen by the brain-numbing one-liners delivered most notably by Tyrese Gibson’s (Death Race, 2 Fast 2 Furious) character. He doesn’t have more than two lines of dialogue in any particular scene and a Bad Boys II poster has more screen time than he does. Then comes Sam’s mom, played by Julie White (Taking Chance, Michael Clayton), who is so over-the-top unbearable while getting her ass slapped by her husband and getting stoned at college, I was desperately praying she would be violently killed by any Decepticon she came across. Then there is John Turturro. During the film I was questioning why he is part of this series and wondered how they could make his character worse then the first movie. Then suddenly, in a climax of pure embarrassment, he ripped off his pants only to reveal a Sector 7 jockstrap. I congratulate Orci and Kurtzmann in helping me remember one of the worst scenes of the first movie.
Most surprising is that no human character mentioned so far is the worst of the cast. Sam’s roommate, Leo, played by Ramon Rodriguez (Pride and Glory, The Taking of Pelham 123) wins the prize of being the most irritating, futile character to grace the screen this year. Yes, even worse than Paul Blart. With every utterance of any syllable the burning urge to walk out of the theater was perpetually growing inside my body. I understand the introduction of a side character to accompany the leads, but by the end of the film I was praying for Anthony Anderson (The Departed, Transformers) to return. Without going into any detail I’ll let you endure the rest of the inane and idiotic cast who include an Indian midget guard, tight-shirt frat boys, stereotypical army officers, and the standard presidential adviser douche bag.
Remember when Michael Bay said with new technology he was able to make the robots look more life-like and have actions integral to the story? Well he was right, and it was a terrible, terrible idea. We get such marvelous designs like horny robots, crying robots, robot testicles and robots made out of a vacuum cleaners and ice cream trucks. Let’s not forget the autobots that rival Jar Jar Binks, known as Skids and Mudflap. Imagine 12 year olds with learning disabilities that are discovering swear words for the first time and you pretty much get the idea. Then again, it is apparent that was Michael Bay’s key demographic from the start.
While viewing the film I kept telling myself that if this movie didn’t have any action, it would be one of the worst films of the year. Then it ended and I came to the realization that even Bay’s high-octane explosions and ILM’s beautiful creature work couldn’t save this monstrous disaster. I do applaud Bay for making this film a little bit darker as we see Shia’s brain get infested by a robot. There are also select action scenes that are amusing but overall it comes off as a scattered, incomprehensible, and outrageous affair. The first action scene in Shanghai has a few thrills, with the biggest already shown in the trailer. The forest scene that looked promising was cut short and only disappoints. While the previous Transformers had one of the most entertaining finales in a summer blockbuster, this one is just an unintelligible, monotonous rehash of an action scene we’ve already seen. This is all topped off by an abrupt ending with the exact same tone, shot structure, and music as the first. When the Linkin Park cue starts you will be questioning what the hell you just saw and how they got the rights to Green Day’s new album so quickly.
The most upsetting thing about this film involves Steven Spielberg. As executive producer of the film, he saw the first screening of it and loved it, saying it was Bay’s most best film to date. I can only hope this was all some sick joke and Spielberg was playing a prank on us. We are left with an unsatisfying, mind-numbing outing that audiences will unfortunately eat up in droves. People may simply classify this film as an experience akin to a videogame, but let’s not forget videogames are rewarding and have some sort of plot structure. Leaving the theater the only memory one can sustain is what Bay devoted the last 40 minutes to; Megan Fox’s bouncing breasts as she is running away from explosions.
2 out of 10