If two years ago you told me that it was possible to be bored while watching giant robots fight, I would have said, “Sure, I just saw Transformers and that’s exactly how I feel.” But that was then. The newly released sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen would have put the 2007 me into a coma. Director Michael Bay is known for action-packed substance-void movies and he only further cements his reputation with this film.
Revenge of the Fallen picks up where Transformers left off. The Autobots are now working jointly with the US military, in a top secret alliance to rid Earth of the remaining bad guys, the Decepticons. Meanwhile, the main character, Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is starting college. His girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) is still being hot. In the process of packing, Sam finds the little shard of the Cube again and it makes him go crazy. The rest of the film is about figuring out what’s inside his head in time to save the Earth from the ultimate attack by the oldest badass Decepticon called Fallen. See what they did there? It’s, like, the dude’s name!
The technical level of the visual effects is of course impressive and I would expect nothing less from ILM. But the director again fails to utilize this amazing artistry to maximum effect. He repeats the mistake of the first film by making most of the robot transformations occur too fast, too close and too many times. All you really see are countless shards of metal blurring past the screen until there’s a robot there.
The third act of the movie takes this to the ultimate extreme with an epic battle by the pyramids in Giza. There is non-stop destruction, to the point that you are completely desensitized to it. It’s so action-packed, it’s boring. You don’t even get to stop and admire the magnificent location the production was so incredibly lucky to film at.
I believe people are usually over-analytical when it comes to finding racial stereotypes in movies. (I don’t agree with Stephen’s claims that Aladdin and The Jungle Book have racist undertones to them, for instance.) But even I shook my head at the ridiculousness of Skids and Mudflap – twin robots busting ebonics zingers whenever something isn’t exploding on the screen. At one point, Sam asks them if they could read some ancient Autobot symbols:
Skids: Read? Unh uh.
Mudflap: We don’t - we don’t really do much readin’.
It’s probably not worth analyzing the narrative structure and character development of this movie. We all understand it’s a blockbuster sci-fi/action ride. I will only say that even in that genre, the movie is weak. It clashes with itself and turns off beret wearing film connoisseurs and nacho munching hard core franchise fans alike. It attempts to combine serious, high-stakes action with DreamWorks Animation-style goofiness the most unattractive way.
Revenge of the Fallen is not a case of a sophisticated filmmaker pandering to a wide audience. I really believe that Michael Bay is simply not capable of creating anything better than this.