Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Ehren Kruger, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Isabel Lucas

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It still seems weird to me that a cartoon and toy line that I grew up with in the ’80s is now one of the biggest blockbuster movie franchises of all time. Of course, in reality the Transformers movie franchise doesn’t have all that much in common with its source material; Michael Bay just injected all the right elements needed to make it cool and profitable. Hot women, slick sports cars, machine guns, adolescent humour, nu-metal, and military choppers all add up to over $700 million worldwide.

Clearly Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a movie that needs no introduction. Now that the series is a proven success, Bay’s strategy was simply to duplicate the first movie but with even bigger robots and higher decibel levels. Let’s not kid ourselves here — it’s not like there are any unfinished story elements or compelling characters that are drawing people back in. It’s just another excuse to create giant CG robot carnage on a massive scale. Does it deliver? Well, let’s just say that if you thought Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was bloated, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

When we last left Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), he had saved the world and won the girl. He is no longer that dorky kid with a beat up looking car, and he’s heading off to college while trying to maintain a long distance relationship with Mikaela (Megan Fox). In the time since the first movie, the Autobots have teamed up with the U.S. military to hunt down and eliminate most of the leftover Decepticons. However, when Soundwave intercepts a message revealing the location of Megatron’s dead body, he dispatches forces to revive him. Meanwhile, Sam discovers a leftover shard of the All Spark cube, and he starts having visions of weird alien symbols, which could hold the secret to defeating the Decepticons once and for all.

While that describes the plot of this movie on a very basic level, the movie is two-and-a-half long, which means there is a LOT of filler to get through. For the most part it’s just a blur in my mind, either because I didn’t understand half of what went on, or because my mind failed to retain it. Things move so fast at points that it’s nearly impossible to process, but even if it wasn’t moving so fast, none of it would actually make any sense. On top of it all, the amount of action compared to juvenile comic relief and useless exposition is surprisingly low.

Shia LaBeouf continues to prepare for his rumoured upcoming role in the Wall Street sequel with another sweaty, stuttering, coked-out performance. While I found him endearing and funny in the first one, this time around he just seems spazzy and unfocused. Perhaps his real-life ego is starting to appear on-screen, but he is not heroic in any sense of the word. Meanwhile, Megan Fox is as vapid as ever, but in order to one-up her hotness they had to introduce another supermodel who throws herself at Sam throughout the first half of the film. While there is an obvious explanation for it, it is derivative of a million other movies, and introduces plot loopholes galore.

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However, as most of the first movie’s supporters will tell you, no one cares about the humans… it’s all about the robots! But don’t get your hopes up, because all of the new Transformers characters are either non-descript or annoying as hell. Fans were excited about the introduction of Soundwave, known in the cartoon as Megatron’s loyal right hand man. Unfortunately here he is just a satellite in orbit who sounds like Dr. Claw. Jetfire is an old Scottish dude with a beard and a cane, and apparently the female Autobot Arcee is in this film but I couldn’t tell you who she was. Then there are Mudflap and Skids, aka “The Twins”, who have been the subject of many complaints. While their faux gangsta personalities aren’t as offensive as some would have you believe, they get more screen time than just about any other Autobot, and they are just dumb as bricks and not funny at all.

I will say that the action scenes are slightly more coherent this time around, which is an improvement. There seems to be actual choreography to some of the fights, and the Optimus battle royale in the woods and Bumblebee vs Devastator bout were indeed somewhat dramatic. However, it was still hard to distinguish when certain characters had been killed or just injured, and I continued to have trouble figuring out who the individual robots were most of the time (I still wouldn’t know Megatron, Starscream or The Fallen to look at them).

Steven Spielberg is listed as executive producer again, but his influence is a lot less strong this time around and I think the movie suffers because of it. Most of the stuff relating to Sam and his family is played for cheap laughs and seemed unnecessary, while Michael Bay’s mindless military melodrama takes center stage. Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel mostly just stand around looking cool in front of sunsets, and it all leads to a finale that feels like a complete rehash of the first movie (only instead of running with a cube, Sam is running with a bag of sand). Yes, in the midst of all the metallic mayhem, the only significant thing humans can do is run.

While I didn’t love the first movie, I could still understand some of the appeal. It was a must-see movie based solely on the groundbreaking special effects, and the idea that it was offering something that hadn’t quite been done before on the big screen. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen tries to improve on that, but it simply pummels your senses into submission to the point where you are numb to all the explosions and special effects on screen. It’s evident that a lot of work went into this movie, but it’s just not organized into anything compelling. It might look bigger and more expensive, but there is nothing about it that stands out, and I can’t find a good reason to recommend it to anyone. Honestly, if you skip it, you’re not missing a thing, and that’s the bottom line. Regardless, I know the movie is a guaranteed success being both critic proof and recession proof… just don’t blame me when you find yourself checking your watch after the first hour! — Sean

SCORE: 1 stars



Recommended If You Like: Transformers, Crank, War of the Worlds

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  • Matt Keith

    I gave the film a 3 out of 5….I would have enjoyed it more if it was 30 minutes shorter and if “The Fallen”(you know the title character) actually had more than 10 minutes of screen time.

  • leaflinks
  • Travis

    I see so many defenders of this movie just saying “turn off your brain, it’s a mindless film about giant robots”. Why should I have to turn off my brain to enjoy a movie? The same thing thing could be said about comic book movies, but movies such as Spider-Man 2 and X-Men 2 have shown that a good story can make it more than a silly comic book movie. If Transformers had been given to a director with some vision, it could have been much more memorable instead of just this years big budget explosion movie.

  • RJ

    great review. Looking forward to hear the debate on the podcast.

  • bert belgium

    bumblebee never battled devastator, it was rampage he kicked the shit out of!

  • Sean

    Haha…I guess that proves my point? Thanks for the correction.

  • http://entertainmenttodayandbeyond.com entertainmenttodayandbeyond

    I Must say I am a big supporter of the first film. It’s one of my favorite summer films in the last decade. Its involving and very funny. Having said that I thought this sequel was AWFUL. Yes its like the Pirate sequels which were also awful. Transformers 2 is flat. It has none of the energy and sense of adventure that the original had. It became a painful sit at the half way point in its running time. I give it 1.5 out of 5. Yet there were people at my showing that applauded at the end!

    chuck

  • Matt Keith

    Yeah they were people that applaud at my showing as well.

  • http://www.thissiteison.com/moviebasemain.html Stephen

    I guess I’m in the minority around here but I enjoyed this movie. I liked the first one but I thought this one was better.

  • Mike

    I agree! The movie was excellent. Yeah Mudflap and Skids get allot of air time, but anyone who saw the movie or preveiws knows bumblebee can’t talk at all and as far as the other autobots you need to see the movie to understand why they don’t get the airtime. They were there for comic relief. That’s like saying Joe Pesci shouldn’t have been in the Leathal Weapon films.

  • Matt Keith

    Mike,

    If you saw the end of the first one it shows that Bumblebee gets his voice back….him not talking in this film is a major plothole.

  • Goon

    “Yeah they were people that applaud at my showing as well.”

    Same at mine. Yet funny enough the group of guys behind me were loudly complaining about the movie throughout – I heard “bullshit”, “stupid”, and “come on” multiple times – but still applauded.

  • Tyler

    “That’s like saying Joe Pesci shouldn’t have been in the Leathal Weapon films.”

    No it isn’t. Joe Pesci was entertaining in the Lethal Weapon films.

  • Dom_G

    I didn’t enjoy this film all that much but I liked John Turturro.

  • Goon

    He was better in this than the other one. At least he had something resembling a personality, and the “ONE MAN!” stuff was about as funny as this movie got ever.

  • Matt Keith

    He wasn’t as bad as he was in the first film, best of all….he didn’t get pissed on in this one.

  • Xu

    Those defender with “turn off your brain, it’s a mindless film about giant robots”words just prove one thing:
    TRANSFORMERS means the death of the library then the death of cinema.

  • Goon

    Oh god, Matt, I thought I had wiped that memory clean from my mind.

  • Goon

    So Doug Nagy is on the new FJ podcast coming later, he liked the first TF, will be interesting to see if the show has a true debate or if Doug was at least as disappointed as Campea was.

  • http://www.youtube.com/gabndad Gab & Dad

    My 7ry.-old son thought it was Cool; my 65yr.-old father thought it signalled the death of civilization…. I tried to fall somewhere in the middle, but truly can’t defend this flick. Other than the effects, it’s dreck!!! See me and dad review it together on YouTube: “Gab and Dad”

  • Mason

    Sean, you really didn’t have to spend money on this for our benefit. Or did you find a way to see it for free?

  • Goon

    Good video Gab, thanks.

    For others:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRphYHvYR3I

  • Jeff

    Entertaining but hardly engaging.

    Sean, another fine review. This movie is a fine example of what happens when a big studio budget, lots of media hype, a toy company and a director that likes explosions come together to produce a “blockbuster”.

    I must say, during the opening credits when “in association with Hasbro” appears on the screen, my inner-voice was screaming at me to abandon all hope.

    The biggest failing of this film is that it is near-impossible (as Sean states) to tell one robot from another, so it is difficult to feel empathy for any of them. As for the human characters, they are all so hollow and often annoying, you don’t really care about them anyway. It all washes over you in a blaze of subwoofer thudding and pyrotechnics.

    The only emotion this film triggered in me was remorse over paying for the ticket…

  • Xu

    Anyone else read MICHAEL BAY’s defense (on his own website) first (he couldn’t be more recommend to watch this movie on IMAX), then watch the movie and found out there is a IMAX product replacement in that museum scene?
    it literally made my jaw dropped off

  • http://www.therobotspajamas.com Paul

    This film would have been a lot better with a lot less juvenile humor and more robots. For a movie that’s supposed to be about giant robots, most of them are only on screen for a second and you can’t tell them apart. There’s like two memorable robot related things and the rest is just jokes for stupid people.

  • Goon

    They just need to use the right robots and make them actual characters rather than just treat them like they’re explosions. Optimus has the two main battles and yet he’s pretty much a tertiary character who is only important because other people say he is.

  • scroll

    “Yeah they were people that applaud at my showing as well”

    in our showing too…lol…
    I was saddened when optimus got killed (like where were the other autobots during that time?! it is like he was all alone there with sam), but glad he was resurrected…
    the first one was way better than this…but still a nice movie…

  • Tomas

    Both movies will never match the charm of the 2 dimensional cartoon series of the 80′s.

    As Goon implied, the robots are just horrible. I think its because they are almost indistinguishable from one another.

  • http://www.fadedblue.net joe

    What? This movie was awesome. Hopefully Jay or Greg liked it. Should be a good podcast review.

  • Rick

    I went and saw it friday. I’ll admit, there were times when it was moving to slow, and then to fast at parts with kind of a hard plot line (or lack there of). my biggest gripe, sense when could robots turn into extremely sexy college girls? And why could bee not tell she was a robot when she was sitting in his cab?

    over all i thought the movie was awesome though. The CGI robots were very enjoyable. very fun to watch them fight and all that. Very pro millitary movie. I enjoyed seeing our boys in action litteraly tearing up that little town in jordan.

    and optimus prime is a little shit talker. “WHEN I RISE, YOU FALL”

  • Goon

    “enjoyed seeing our boys in action litteraly tearing up that little town in jordan.”

    You realize Jordan is an ally of the US, right?

  • Rick

    either blow up that little town or let robots take over the world and kill everybody? which do you think the Jordan Gov. prefer?

  • http://blog.filmrot.com Dave

    which do you think the Jordan Gov. prefer?

    I think they have more pressing concerns than this fucking movie.

  • Rick

    we were also talking about what was happening in the movie. not about real life. relax dave, stop being so serious.

  • Noah Sol

    Watch this then watch Team America World Police or just watch Team America World Police!

  • http://www.youtube.com/gabndad Gab & Dad

    Thanks Goon! By the way, the funniest this flick got for me was the “Go find yourself a tighter shirt” line. Tighter script, anyone??

  • http://blog.filmrot.com Dave

    relax dave, stop being so serious.

    But I’m so goooooooooooood at it!

  • Goon

    http://www.toplessrobot.com/2009/06/bonus_robs_transformers_2_faqs.php

    Transformers 2 facts.

    my favorite two parts:

    “Well, if one shard brought Megatron back to life, can’t Sam just use his shard piece to resurrect Optimus?
    Yes. He could.


    Well?
    He doesn’t.

    Why not?
    I’m not sure exactly. ”

    “So the Decepticons made a slutty robot to attend his college and enrolled her in classes and put her in on-campus housing just in case Sam ended up being important at some point in the future?
    Apparently. It was an elaborate plan, but it sure paid off.”

  • joe

    tf2 was awsome. the special effects were great, the game to it……succcccccckkkkkkkkeeeeeeeedddddddd

  • Steve Peto

    I think a 1/5 is pretty harsh, I had issues with the film. the twins annoyed the hell out of me, the boring long arsed conversation from the blackbird deceptacon turned autobot, the stupidity of Sam’s parents and that idiot college colleague that screamed like a wuss for the most part. overall too much chat and cheap laughs and not enough action or views of Megan Fox’s breasts.

    I though the film ok, and would have given a 3/5.

  • Winston

    To all the people bitching about Michael Bay’s directing or the explosions or anything related…. If you don’t like Michael Bay or big explosions or the lack of cerebral stimulation etc… WTF were you expecting?? You knew who was directing it… the trailers showed almost nothing but explosions… aside from the vastly over-rated assets of Megan Fox, why were you even in the theater? Do you enjoy punishing yourselves or were just bored and wanted something to whine about so you could all cool and superior? Just checking. Cheers

  • megan

    this movie is one of my favorite movies. i thought it was funny and had a lot of action in it. i like both of them, i cant pick one i liked better.

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