Thursday, June 25, 2009
Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
I am a male human. I am twenty-two years old. I am a sci-fi geek. As a kid, I watched my share of Transformers cartoons. I am, for all intents and purposes, the primary target audience for Michael Bay's Transformers movies. And yet, I'm not sure whether I'm supposed to take Revenge of the Fallen seriously or if it's the biggest, most expensive and mind-numbing practical joke of the year.
One thing is certain: this film is definitely not a misfire. Michael Bay and his three writers knew exactly what they were doing when they put this film together. Revenge of the Fallen is a film that takes everything ridiculous, overblown and aggravating about the previous film and amplifies it tenfold. For lack of a better comparison, it's Michael Bay's version of Crank 2. Despite being a blatant ripoff of Independence Day, 2007's Transformers was at the very least coherent. The sequel is far too scatterbrained and schizophrenic to even concentrate on one plot thread, let alone a dozen.
The film opens in Shanghai, with the Autobots working with a military team called NEST to hunt down rogue Decepticons. Despite being a little hard to follow, this is a great concept for the film to start on, but the whole thing just goes downhill from there. Meanwhile, after killing Megatron with the All Spark at the end of the first movie, Sam Witwicky (Still Shia LaBeouf, still annoying) is off to college, but not before discovering a sliver of the All Spark in his sweater, which imprints Cybertronian hieroglyphics onto his brain. A Decepticon named The Fallen then arrives on Earth in search of the Matrix of Leadership, which he plans to use to destroy the sun (I guess). The only one who knows it's location? Yup. Sam.
That is literally the shortest plot description I can give you without simply saying "The Decepticons want something and the Autobots have to stop them from getting it." Actually, that's all this movie is. It's a fetch quest. How Michael Bay managed to turn such a simple premise into 150 minutes is beyond me. Of course, the plot doesn't really matter. We're paying to see giant robots fighting, and by God that's exactly what Bay gives us. What seems like the entire last hour of the film is dedicated to a battle in and around the Pyramids of Giza, and while it's definitely intricate and an amazing feat of special effects work, it makes practically zero narrative sense.
Entire plot threads are introduced only to be abandoned or twisted inside out thirty minutes later. Characters die early in the film, only to be brought back at the zero hour. Other characters seem motivated entirely by whims or hair-brained notions of their importance to the plot, others serve seemingly no purpose other than to maintain continuity, and still others show up for brief cameos, when I'm fairly certain they were killed off in the last film.
Thinking about Revenge of the Fallen for too long will almost certainly give you a headache, if the screening didn't do that for you already. Failing that, the comic relief will drive you insane. Not because it's hilarious, but rather because it's not and there's far, far too much of it. In particular, two Autobots named Mudflap and Skids. Of all the CG robots in this movie, they're the only two that actually resemble cartoon characters, and they're 100% walking, talking racial epithets of the worst kind. Between those two and Sam's mother, this film features three of the absolute worst characters to show up in a film this year, possibly this decade.
Dogs humping dogs, robots humping people, robots speaking jive, robots walking with canes, people visiting robot heaven, John Turturro's ass. Oh, and robot testicles. Indeed, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen truly has it all. Every visual excess that you could possibly want in a summer blockbuster is right here, lovingly captured on film for all eternity. If I have anything positive to say about the movie, it's that Michael Bay does, indeed, know how to make a film look good. For every horribly stupid gag or plot point that Bay throws at us, we at least get to see what we paid for. Giant robots kicking the crap out of each other. But, ya know, sometimes that's just not enough.
The only reason I would possibly recommend seeing this would be to see how gloriously stupid the film truly is.
2 little angry faces out of 5.