Revenge of the Fallen
Since no matter how you slice it, we're
talking about a movie about giant robots fighting each other,
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen can only offer
so much in the way of plot twists and turns. It could randomly
have a cool-looking Decepticon suddenly fight for the Autobots,
and vice versa, all in an effort to keep your attention.
It's kind of the same thing that happens when my five year
old son plays with his Transformers, only that cost a significantly
less amount of money.
With that in mind, I'm going to feel free
to intersperse this review with recreations of famous Transformer
battles that have happened in my living room in the last
First, to give the movie its due, the visual
effects are fantastic. Seamlessly blended in with the live-action
actors, the Transformers themselves exist as believable
characters on the screen. Slap them up in an IMAX sequence,
and the effects are really engrossing and impressive. When
Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) fights for his very
life against three or four or five Decepticons in the woods,
it's the giant robot fight you may have waited your whole
life to see.
Unfortunately, Director Michael Bay doesn't
do a whole lot to give the robots personality, so it might
be three, it might be five, it might be -
Living Room Fight: "Ho ho ho. I am bad.
I must kill you." "AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" (Grotesque sounds
of plastic on plastic) "GAH GAH GAH GAH GAH!"
It seems that most of the time, Bay is
content with a "cool, it's giant robots" attitude. The script
by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Ehren Kruger takes us
back to the dawn of man, when those giant robots first made
contact. The titular Fallen (Tony Todd) crushes a few cavemen
before something mysterious happens to defeat him. For most
of the film, a severely weakened Fallen grumbles about betrayal
by the Primes, strengthened only by the need for him to
suddenly be strong and vital again for a big battle.
In the present, the Autobots have formed
an alliance with the military squad from the first movie,
a decent enough excuse to bring back Josh Duhamel and Tyrese
Gibson, charismatic actors who manage to stand out amidst
all the metal on metal action. Together, they track down
Decepticon incursions, aided by a new bunch of toys/Autobots
that barely register as characters but look very shiny and
Again, the problem there is that while
the screen fills with action and explosions, there's not
a single thing to actually hang onto as an audience until
Optimus shows up. And I can't believe that I wrote that
or even experienced the sensation of "yay! Optimus!" because
at least that was a robot I recognized.
Living Room Fight: "I am Optimus Prime.
I am good. I must kill you." "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH" POW POW
The carnage gets offset by comic relief
featuring Shia LeBeouf returning as Sam Witwicky, a nebbish
with a destiny. Oh, and of course an inhumanly hot girlfriend
played by the Megan Fox 3000. CG and in-camera effects blend
seamlessly as Fox first appears straddling a motorcycle,
airbrushing a devil girl on the shiny curve of a gas tank,
an Escher-esque vision blurring to the airbrushed shiny
curve of her own flanks. It's still a little weird that
the robots are more realistic than Fox.
Sam still carries the Macguffin for this
adventure, a shard of the Allspark. Except that the Government
also has a shard of the Allspark in their possession, so
that can't be what's driving the plot, can it? Somewhere
along the line it shifts to a hunt for Energon, then some
other diabolical secret weapon and if the script can't be
bothered keeping it straight, why should we?
At least one permutation could probably
have been cut, as this thing lasts over two and a half hours.
If you've seen ten incredible robot fights, you've seen
Living Room Fight: "DIE DIE DIE!" BOOM
BOOM PABOOM - KKKKSSSSHHHHHHH!! (sounds of plastic clanking
against plastic) VRROOOOOOOMMMMMMMM! "Daddy, can you transform
At one point, Bay offers up an intriguing idea, that the
Transformers can disguise themselves as humans, with Isabel
Lucas playing an Hottobot out to get what Sam knows. Though
the sequence smacks of Terminator 3, it at least
means the Decepticons have strategies other than beat the
crap out of everything.
In fact, they seem pretty much smarter than everyone else
in the movie. We wouldn't stand a chance against them. While
Optimus Prime blathers on about destiny, they're busy taking
over satellites and listening for things like exposition
that explains exactly where the Allspark Shard is exactly
when they need to get it.
Somewhere amidst the metal carnage lies a shred of a moral
message, too, which sort of addresses a problem I had with
the first movie. Why do all the Earth appliances brought
to life have a default setting of evil? It may be that they
have to choose to become Autobots instead of Decepticons,
even though originally, they were all good until the Fallen
and - ow. Ow. Owwwww.
Living Room Fight: "EEEEE!" "RRRRRRRRRR!"
"KKKSSHHHKSSSHHHHKSSSHSHHH" "We do NOT scream!" "sorry, mom…"
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
does have a plot, and despite the constant cutting away
to action just as something approaching real emotion might
happen, it's clear that all the actors involved are doing
solid work. None of this should really be surprising; it
is a movie based on a toy line directed by a guy known chiefly
for his facility with making things blow up not just good,
So things blow up good here. It's full
of sound and fury. And though many people hate to hear it,
Shia once again makes a decent enough action hero, even
with a broken hand. (Give credit to the craftsmanship of
the creative team that they cobbled together an explanation
for it that works almost as well as a Wampa attack.)
Like the first one, this is probably critic
proof. But my main issue with it isn't its stupidity; it's
that this loooong commercial for cool toys really isn't
appropriate for kids. Characters swear at each other, even
the Autobots. Though we already knew Fox was as fetishized
and objectified as the Camaro, it's taken to an even higher
level here, especially once the Desexticon enters the scene.
Parents won't feel particularly comfortable and that's too
At least we'll always have the battles
in the living room.