Movie Review - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
By Matthew Huntley
July 5, 2009
The long and short of the plot is that it's an excuse to transport the main characters, who also include Sam's college roommate, Leo (Ramon Rodriguez), and Agent Simmons (John Turturro), around the world so the Decepticons can chase them and the Autobots can protect them. Then again, it doesn't matter where any character is in this movie, because despite the location, there is always screaming, things are always getting blown up and destroyed, characters are always running, jumping and hiding (much of the time in slow motion), and there is always a lot of transforming going on. Amidst all the noise and special effects, two action sequences did stand out - one in a car hanging upside down, the other in a forest. These, surprisingly, provided a real sense of rush that was missing from the first movie. Watch out for them.
I also liked the humor better this time around, especially from Rodriguez and Turturro, who have good chemistry and aren't afraid to make themselves look stupid. However, instead of coming across as annoying, their characters have an innocence to them act just plain goofy.
Where the humor doesn't work, and in a big way, is with two vexing twin Autobots named Mudflap and Skids, who manifest all the African-American stereotypes. They're so obnoxious they'll probably go down as the Jar Jar Binkses of the Transformers franchise.
I mentioned the two action scenes, but aside from those, there's not much else to speak positively about with Revenge of the Fallen. Some people will call it mindless fun, or escapism, but it doesn't allow us to escape so much as put us into a trance of ceaseless violence and destruction. After a while, I became numb to what I was watching because it seemed like the same images and sounds were being thrown at me over and over again. At about the one-third mark, none of it fully registered with me anymore and I found myself tuning out.
Director Michael Bay must learn to pace his movies instead of letting them constantly go on all-out sprints. Otherwise, we're merely seeing and hearing things; we're not watching or listening. Plus, because the action is so prolific from the very first frame all the way to the last, it doesn't feel as urgent, dangerous or critical for the characters, so it bears no narrative value. It's there because there's nothing else.
Still, I'm glad Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is only stupid and orotund and not necessarily offensive, unlike Bay's previous monstrosities (Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys II). It's so silly and laughable that it prevents me from being too hard on it, although I'm sure many people will find plenty of reasons to find it assaulting.
For Transformers 3 (and there will be another sequel), Paramount should relieve Michael Bay of duty and let another director try his or her hand at the material. Bay has already made the studio a fortune, so a more gifted director, one with a knack for storytelling, should take over and attempt to bring narrative balance to the equation, preferably where story and character are prioritized over action. Unfortunately, Revenge of the Fallen will probably make so much money at the box office that it's probably a lost cause to beseech the studio for something new and different. Not only is that a lost cause, but ultimately, so is this movie.