The sequel. As a rule it has to have twice as much of everything. In “Friday the 13th Part 2” Jason took over from his mother, and hacked up way more camp councilors. In “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” Leather Face laid waste to more than just one van of hippies. Compared to the original Michael Bay’s loud, grating, mind numbing metal mayhem that is “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” follows that rule to a “T.” It has twice as many Transformers, twice as many explosions, twice as many shots of Megan Fox’s cleavage running, twice as many up-angle shots of Shia LaBoeuf screaming in slow motion, and most of all, with a screeching shout it is twice as terrible.
The plot here is a rehash of the first one where Sam (LaBeouf) and Mikaela (Fox) search for a mythical Macguffin, this time the Matrix instead of the All Spark, before Megatron and the Decepticons can start a star destroying machine that will wipe out the human race. Also like the first installment there are so many themes thrown in it becomes a paella of weird, and often Hawkish, American jingoism and moralizing. From what I could glean the US can’t pull out of Iraq because giant Robots want to steal all of the oil.
Of all his bombastic films only one, the first “Bad Boys” clocks in at less than two hours, so it is easy to assume that Michael Bay thinks a lot of his skills. It would appear from the box office results of his collective films that most of the world agrees. At this point viewers don’t show up for the films themselves, but rather the Bay brand, which as each film passes becomes less coherent, and more ridiculous. This film follows that trend, eschewing all reality in favor of fire.
Hastily penned by three of Hollywood’s biggest screen writers, Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman, the ersatz script is nothing more that one confusing action sequence after another strung together with a plot that substitutes necessity for believability. When they needed a weapon to destroy an indestructible Decepticon they just typed one in, when they need a way to save the faltering Optimus they just type one in, any solution was at their finger tips, with the strength of an NFL quarterback throwing the dichotomy of set-up and pay-off out the window. Displaying a thorough lack of respect for the audiences’ intelligence they assume such gross negligence on their part will be overlooked because the film moves at such a break neck pace.
Mixed in with the all of the other detritus are two of the most offensively racist robots since Dick Cheney. Mudflap and Sideswipe are such amazing stereotypes they make Jar-Jar Binks look like a UN Ambassador. When an African American deli worker shows up on screen with the same buck teeth as the robots one wonders how Al Sharpton isn’t already jumping down Michael Bay’s throat.
Last year “Wall-E” inspired love in the hearts of even the most jaded, and before that in “Short Circuit” we cheered when Number 5 drove off into the sunset singing “Who’s Johnny?” Here the overly animated and openly racist anthropomorphic machines can’t extract any real pathos. They are so over the top this would be a kid’s movie if the sound waves alone blasting from the central speakers were not enough to make a six year old void his bowels.
Usually beautiful woman running and loud explosions would make the movie fun enough to sit through, but “T2” is so visually confusing that it is almost impossible to keep track of what is going on. The actual Transformers have so many moving parts that when two are on screen it becomes a challenge to delineate where an Optimus Prime starts and a Megatron ends.
Overall the technical aspects are beyond amazing. The Transformers are so realistically rendered that I found myself hating some of the robots’ performances, and had to remind myself they weren’t real.
With a small exception there wasn’t much actual acting in “Revenge,” mostly just running and screaming and melodramatic emoting. LaBeouf and Fox fill in those roles admirably existing about as realistically as the robots themselves. The blip on the radar was filled by Julie White as Sam’s mother who, in an irrelevant but amusing scene, runs around a college campus high as a Phish fan (though Bay used this basic set up in “Bad Boys 2” to weaker results).
The amazingly high quality manufacture of low quality concepts are the hallmark of the Bay brand, and its sales numbers being so astronomical are really a bad sign for the state of Western Culture. If a movie is as thin as the film upon which it is printed, but the flashes and booms evoke a cheering ovation from so many wallets, then it is evidence of a disturbingly steep downward trend in taste. Faced with the behemoth that is Optimus Prime Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson) posed the question, “If God created us in his image, who made them?” This pretentious ponderous collection of action falderal is enough to prompt the question, “What day did the Lord create the Transformers, and couldn’t he have rested on that day too?”
El Luchador Rating: 2 out of 5 (2 out of 5)
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)