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Jun242009

Review - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen **

Watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is like having a friend clang all of your silverware together a few inches from your face, and yell sexist jokes in a racially stereotypical voice for 2 1/2 hours, all while you watch the last Transformers.

The plot as I understand it: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is leaving for college and his parents are having a hard time letting go. He’s still dating Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) who is extremely hot, or so the camera constantly reminds us, but he won’t say the “L” word (love). When he gets to college, he’s treated to an extremely realistic depiction of dorm life and its temptations. This section of the movie might as well be a documentary; my first day of college was exactly the same—full of Playboy models who all want my body and sex parties.

On the robotic side of things, the US Army and Autobots have been fighting the remnants of the Decepticons for several years. Leading the baddies is the original Decepticon, named “The Fallen,” who landed on earth in 17,000 BC. The ancient Transformers, led by the Primes, used to destroy suns to obtain Energon to power their society (apparently they never went green). They were going to destroy ours, but discovered there was life on planet earth—wiping out a civilization was against their rules. Except for “The Fallen,” that is. He decides that, rules be damned, he’s going to blow up our planet. The Primes stop him and lock him up for thousands of years. Cue up 2009. He is awake and working with the Decepticons to find the remaining pieces of the The Cube, which was the MacGuffin in the last Transformers movie. Meanwhile, Sam accidentally gets zapped by a shard of The Cube and starts seeing symbols. Soon the Decepticons revive Megatron and are out to get Sam. Then there’s a lot of fighting and everyone goes on a big journey that ends in Egypt.

I skipped a lot of plot, but most of it is full of holes, and none of it is very necessary. Transformers punch and kick each other, buildings are destroyed, the army futilely tries to help, and we try to watch. However, the scene where Optimus goes Rambo on Megatron and a bunch of Decepticons in the forest is pretty awesome; I wish the movie climaxed there. Unfortunately, Revenge of the Fallen lingers and plods along for another hour.

The two best words to differentiate Transformers 2 from it’s predecessor are “more” and “extreme.” Michael Bay does less of nothing in this sequel. It has more extremely big robots, more extremely tiny robots, more extremely beast-like robots, more extremely big fights, more extremely giant explosions, more extreme slow-mos of people outrunning extremely giant explosions, more extremely racially stereotypical robots, more extremely sexist humor, more shoving objects into Optimus Prime’s chest, more shots of Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox in front of a sunset, more sitcom-like college and parental humor, more MacGuffins used to drive the plot, and more extremely confusing plot points erratically placed to lightly pad an endless barrage of action sequences that are impossible to see due to the return of an even more extreme Blair Witch shaky camera setup. I’ve never seen so much of everything in one movie.

More of everything sounds great, right? I thought that’s what I wanted too. This formula worked for Michael Bay in the first movie, when he was simply outdoing his older films, but Revenge of the Fallen feels more like 2 1/2 hours of nervous desperation. Instead of improving on Transformers in plot and substance, Bay shows that he will forsake coherency for short-term gains in all circumstances. The result is less a movie than a series of clips strung together. 

Sadly, the Bay formula will probably end in huge box office receipts. I saw the film at midnight, and there were at least 10 simultaneous screenings at my theater—that’s about seven more screenings than I’ve ever seen at a movie opening in Lansing, Michigan. It was ridiculous. Then again, so is the movie.

Side notes (Some spoilers below!)

  • Is it just me, or do Transformers need to invest in a radar system? Despite being huge futuristic robots, they don’t seem to have night vision, heat vision, or anything more than human sight. People hiding behind walls and under tables go unnoticed for long blocks of time. You would think that they could detect the energy signature of another Transformer. This is not the case. 
  • Though the Decepticons often transmit to each other from across the planet and even across space, when Megan Fox captures a little Decepticon, it doesn’t contact anyone for help. 
  • It took the Decepticons years to find Megatron, even though he’s surrounded by an entire fleet of aircraft carriers. Why didn’t they tap into our communication systems a long time ago?
  • How could a Blackhawk fighter be an ancient deactivated Transformer? It was introduced in 1979.

Reader Comments (2)

Your first day of college was nothing like that! Not at MSU anyway! I distinctly remember it being that way for Alex... but not you sir...

June 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHayner

Good review! I didn't want to see this movie anyway, and now I really won't. You need to write more!! :)

June 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJaclyn

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