Let me just start of by saying that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is not a good movie. I am, for the most part, a Michael Bay apologist. I don’t think any of his movies are quality entertainment, but they are entertaining. Michael Bay knows how to direct action–he can make a blockbuster, special effects extravaganza like nobody’s business–but Transformers 2 was any two of his old movies slammed together (like so many giant, alien robots within the film itself) and then turned up to 11.
At two and a half hours, RotF feels too long by at least a half hour, if not more. There are so many parts that could have been scrapped as they serve absolutely no purpose in the movie–well, besides earning some laughs. We get to see dogs humping, Transformers humping, a mother whacked out on pot brownies, Transformer testicles, Transformer farting, racially-stereotyped Transformers…the list goes on and on. Sure, I saw a lot of these things and smiled or even chuckled, but it was from a state of shock; I was reacting to all of the asinine imagery in the way the filmmakers wanted, but for all of the wrong reasons.
The plot is…not there? Kinda there? Maybe? I’m not sure. Long story short, Transformers have been to earth before: Transformers arrive, help humans build pyramids, and want to steal our sun’s energy even though they’re not supposed to (because humans need it). This creates the rift and, voila!, we have Autobots and Decepticons. The Fallen, the baddy who wants our sun–humanity be damned–is defeated an earth is saved…for now. Cut to present day and the Decepitcons are trying to bring the Fallen back so he can finish what he started 17,000 years ago. Oh, and the Fallen? Why, exactly, is it that he can only be defeated by a Prime (I did not realize that the “Prime” in Optimus Prime was actually a last name, passed down the ancestral tree)? Because it’s revealed to us in scene of exposition, of course.
A lot of the characters are back, but not necessarily for the better. Shia is still Shia, Megan is still hot, Turturro is still zany, but others are just…there. Josh Duhamel’s character now exists to be the guy yelling orders on the battlefield while Tyrese is there to spout one-liners and act as a wall for Josh to bounce lines off of–the end. A new hottie is introduced but, SPOILER, she’s a Decepticon in disguise. Plus, she gets run over by a Volvo in the first half. Shia has a roommate who decides to run with Shia and Megan when the fembot attacka, and thus becomes a major character in the film–and by “major character in the film” I, of course, mean that he’s in the movie only to provide comic relief in a movie that is already filled to the brim with comic relief.
The action is still big and flashy, but not all that involving; I was never really awed by any of it. Big, CGI robots bash heads and there’s sparks and explosions and fire–your typical Michael Bay fare–but there were a few points where it got so frenetic that I couldn’t tell which Transformers were in the fight. Eventually, I think everything just went so over-the-top that I stopped caring about anything; instead, I switched my brain to stand-by mode and just stared at the pretty pretties.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will make lots and lots o’ money (the Amigo here in Bemidji had it in 3 screens last night at midnight, and they were all sold out), but that doesn’t mean it’s good. No, it’s the very definition of a summer popcorn flick–and then some. It’s too long, too over-the-top–it’s just too much. Dial it back a bit, Bay. Give us a high octane special effects/action flick where we can actually respect the characters and the story, not pity them.
By the way, what is it with Michael Bay films looking like recruitment ads for the military? I understand that Bay gets to save some money because he’s got the right friends in the right places–I assume it’s one of those “make the military look badass and we’ll let you use some tanks, jets, etc”–but at some point, it just gets to be a superfluous.