Written by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and John Turturro
Optimus Prime: Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing.
I am having a difficult time figuring out how to express my feelings about TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. Upon seeing the first TRANSFORMERS, it was simple; I hated it. It angered me, in fact. I had been a big fan of the toys themselves as a kid and so had high hopes for a big screen adaptation. In my mind, it was an easy update but somehow director, Michael Bay, managed to find a way to take my childhood nostalgia and transform those memories into the kind of mind numbing garbage that he insists on forcing upon the film going public time and time again. This time out though, I knew what to expect, so the threshold of disappointment was exponentially smaller. And so I’m not nearly as angry as I was in 2007 but I got exactly what I was expecting, which is essentially just more of the same. By that logic, I should dislike it just as much. Instead, I’m more apathetic than anything else. At least it didn’t get any worse.
Fans of the first TRANFORMERS may actually be disappointed this time around. To go back and watch the first installment now, after the novelty factor has worn off on the superb special effects behind the Transformers themselves, would likely be disappointing for most fans. Without the wow-factor of the heavy metal to weigh it down, the film’s inconsistencies and banalities float to the surface. The same can be said about this sequel. We’ve all seen these majestic creatures before so what is there to be excited about this time out? The story? The acting? This is a Michael Bay picture; if it isn’t about the explosions and the girls, then it isn’t about anything at all. A special effects driven sequel has one goal only – to be bigger and, when it comes to Bay’s films, more bombastic than its predecessor. When the climax of your film amounts to countless explosions and shots of Megan Fox running in slow motion though, the approach is far too transparent to be appreciated. At least it was easier to tell who was fighting whom this time.
People often criticize me for expecting a decent story in blockbuster entertainment. We all know its possible … SPIDER-MAN? THE DARK KNIGHT? IRON MAN? Yet still, the general population is much more apt to forgive story holes in bigger movies because it isn’t the most important element of these pictures. Knowing that it is possible only infuriates me when I see films that don’t even seem interested in trying to flesh out a plausible story. The premise for REVENGE OF THE FALLEN is triggered when Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) finds a small chunk of the cube the Decepticons (bad guys) wanted to take control of in the first film in the pocket of his sweater he was wearing back on that fateful day. Upon touching it, it gets real hot, falls through the floor and lands in the Witwicky kitchen, subsequently transforming all the appliances into menacing little robots. So for two inexplicable years, the cube fragment lied dormant in a cotton sweater – cotton apparently being the cube’s kryptonite equivalent. When the start of your premise has holes, I just feel it’s pretty lazy to not come up with a stronger one. As for the rest of the plot, the Transformers rumble around the globe pretty much and humanity isn’t sure how comfortable they are with that.
Bay gives us exactly what he always does in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN because that is truly all he is capable of. Bay, who just loves critics because all they do is tear him apart, knows nothing of nuance and his approach to filmmaking is fairly childish, in a paint-by-numbers-like fashion. He thinks that people want big bombs, big boobs and big egos and arguably, judging from the money his flicks pull in most of the time, the people do want these things. Bringing nothing new to the table though only exposes how thin his direction truly is. Bay made this movie to appeal directly to the teenage male mind because he clearly still operates himself under the same principles that govern that mindset. The trouble is, some of us who remember playing with Transformers as boys fondly have actually grown up now and need just a little brain with our beauty.