"Transformers: Revenge of the
Directed by Michael Bay.
Written by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
Starring Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and John Turturro.
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 6/25/09
Bigger, longer, louder...check, check and
check for the new sequel "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."
And, thankfully, there is no middle portion where nothing really
happens. But, why is the new movie not quite as good as
the last one?
Even now, a full 24 hours after leaving a
midnight showing of the film on opening night, I'm not sure. I
know this much--Michael Bay is the pre-eminent director of
overblown, big-budget action films.
Our friends Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela
(Megan Fox) are back; two years after the first film, Sam's at a
college on the East Coast and Mikaela is still working in an auto
repair shop on the West Coast. Meanwhile, the Autobots and
their leader, Optimus Prime (still voiced by Peter Cullen), are
cooperating with the U.S. military to eradicate the planet of the
lingering Decepticons now that their leader, Megatron (voiced by
Hugo Weaving), is buried at the bottom of an ocean. But, a
small shard of the "Allspark"--the magical cube everyone was
fighting over in the first movie--was in some of Sam's trash at
home, and coming into contact with it leads Sam to have a vision of
where some other robot artifacts are found, launching an adventure
that leads Sam, Mikaela, the military and the Autobots all over the
world searching for the location of another artifact.
The story of "Transformers: Revenge of the
Fallen" is bad, and even two hours after leaving the theater, you
can pick out a number of holes that make it even worse. My
favorite is that even though Sam carried the Allspark cube around
with his bare hands in the first film, he never had these
visions...in the sequel, he rubs a sliver of that same cube and he
instantly becomes Einstein. Strangely, a movie this long has a
story this barren...which, brings us to problem #2: there IS such a
thing as action sequences that run on too long. The film's end
sequence, where the two Army guys from the first film (Josh Duhamel
and Tyrese Gibson) lead a squad against Decepticons somewhere in the
Egyptian desert, is a series of explosions, gunfire, and general
violence that lasts more than 20 minutes. Sure, it's cool to
watch shit get blow'd up, but even I have my limits. The movie
runs a cool 150 minutes; the first one was 144 minutes, also too
long, but the new movie felt longer in part because 1) it really is,
and 2) I saw it at midnight on a Tuesday. At 2:30 AM, I had
seen enough, and we still had about 15 minutes to go.
Problem #3: robot profanity. As one of
the most profane people you or I know, I feel that I am well versed
in profanity and I enjoy employing it at key moments in my life.
However, I don't like when robots say "pussy" or generally watching
robots spew "shit" throughout their conversation with humans.
For some reason, watching these characters (known to me as toys,
then cartoons growing up) curse really set me off. Problem #4:
like the first film, I didn't feel like the writers did a good job
of rewarding fans of the toys and TV cartoon. There are no
real familiar characters here that are new (thanks to Chuck for
pointing out that Sideswipe has an early cameo in this sequel);
also, the new characters introduced here mainly go the way of
Jar-Jar Binks in terms of "ugh, that character is REALLY
annoying"-ness. Save for the cool-yet-Voltron-ripoff
contruction vehicle Decepticon introduced late in this sequel, I
wasn't all that hyped about any of the new creations. The
movie had a chance to make me happy by introducing the idea that
everyone is chasing Energon--the fuel that gives life to these
robots, hilariously imagined as empty cubes that could be filled
with things like gasoline or electricity to be converted to Energon
back on the TV show--but after introducing it, never revisits it.
My final major issue came with the
inconsistencies created by robot & human weapons and the damage they
wreak on their targets. Here's an example--early in the film,
the Allspark shard gets loose in Sam's house and creates new
Decepticons out of household objects like a toaster and a microwave.
These objects then have weapons like machine guns and missile
launchers, which they use on Sam. Now, if the toaster is
firing a machine gun, why don't the bullets hit Sam like real
bullets do? So what if the toaster is small...why are the
bullets not lethal? I'll give you another example. It
appears throughout this film that guided missiles, rockets, machine
guns, laser guns, etc. all seem to hurt the Transformers. But,
occasionally, a laser gun takes a robot's chest off.
Sometimes, Optimus Prime breaks out a sword that hurts Decepticons...sometimes,
it instantly kills similar-sized Decepticons. ??? Humans
are carrying machine guns that sometimes appear to have no damage
effect on Decepticons. Sometimes, those machine guns appear to
be able to kill Decepticons. ??? Humans have access to
railguns on some of their destroyers. However, a former
government agent has to REMIND a destroyer captain that he has
access to A FUCKING RAILGUN, which is used to quickly, and with one
shot, take out a Decepticon the size of a baseball stadium.
If we have access to railguns that can be
fired like an airstrike on a coordinated location, why don't we do
that...ALL THE FUCKING TIME????
There are many moments like this in the
sequel, and my thoughts didn't come over the course of the last 24
hours...some of them occurred to me in the moment, like this railgun
example. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" seems to have
been plotted backwards, i.e. figure out four blowout action
sequences, and build a story around the movie that way.
Sprinkle some laughs and Megan Fox on top, and voila! Instant
In that respect, then, the movie is often
entertaining. There are some decent laughs, Fox is hot (and,
for the ladies, I get the impression that Gibson and Duhamel are
easy on the eyes), and Bay blows up so much of his set that the
movie almost never lets up in terms of its explosivility. (Not
a word, but play along here.) Bay blows up dorms, libraries,
vehicles, villages, forests, and aircraft carrier models. The
guy blows up everything, and I like watching things get blown up.
The robot fight scenes are better this time around thanks to drawing
the camera out farther--no more close-up robot wrestling
matches--and slowing down the kill animations. And, no one can
argue with the film's special effects...they will contend for the
Oscar next spring.
So, a thinking man's action film,
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is not. But, it does
play to a man's animal action movie tendencies, and maybe that's all
you could hope for in this day and age. But, in the wake of
films like "The
Dark Knight", wouldn't it be nice to have strong acting and
writing matched up with a blowout action film?
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard