Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Set two years after the original Bay blockbuster, we find LaBoeuf’s Sam about to embark on a new life in college. Autobot guardian Bumblebee appears to have found a comfortable existence in the Witwicky’s garage, so is understandably upset to learn that not only can he no longer doss down, but student vehicles are banned on campus.  Unbeknownst to them, Sam still has a fragment of the first film's maguffin (the AllSpark) in an old pocket.  Once the evil Decepticons get wind of this, inevitably, robo-carnage shortly follows.

To go any further into describing the plot would be a wasted effort: not least of all because there is hardly any to speak of, and what there is makes little or no sense to even the hardened Geewunner.  When Bay’s first Transformers movie was released in 2007, heated discussions soaked up bloggers’ bandwidth all around the world as most audiences were divided between the two opinions: “This film is stupid – it sucks!” and “This film is stupid – it’s awesome!”  Whatever your personal position was after seeing the first one, simply dig your heels in, strengthen your resolve, and prepare to not have your mind changed at all.

Michael Bay and his creative team have been variously quoted as describing Revenge... as “more of the same” and that is a perfectly succinct description of this movie – there really is more of every element from the original – More robots! More fighting! More US military-porn! More babes! More explosions! More awkward “comedy”! More nods to the fanboys! If I sound scathing or cynical, I hasten to clarify myself: the action sequences in this film truly are breathtaking, and they are the best example of CGI work to date – these are not Robot Jox’s stop-motion plastic toys, these are back-flipping, sword-fighting agile creatures, rendered in many thousands of points of articulation that will most likely not find an equal or peer in the cinema this year. Bay has played on his reputation as The Exploder of Things for some time now, and in this film he explodes things like no other director can – Revenge... finds the time to tour the entire globe, and then blow it up; stopping off in Shanghai, Paris, Washington, Egypt, and countless other backdrops for flawlessly choreographed destruction.

One aspect of the “MORE!” philosophy that genuinely grates was the level of schoolboy humour that is prevalent. Arguably the film is designed for a target audience of pre-pubescent 15 year old boys, but seeing an RC truck-former dry humping Megan Fox’s leg, or farting a ball of gas as it transforms, not to mention giant Gestalt-former Devastator’s vast, clanking testicles: I have no doubt there are audiences out there that will enjoy these lapses into the playground, but the moments sit uncomfortably in between epic shots of aircraft carriers being blown to pieces, nuclear subs being casually tossed out of the ocean, and one of the wonders of the world being clawed to rubble.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a very long, very loud, and very stupid work of cinema – to that end, it is exactly what people would have wanted from a sequel to the 2007 film.  Take a cushion for your seat and leave your brain at home for the evening.  Niggles and quibbles aside, it is 150 minutes of sensory overload that will leave your head spinning and your ears ringing.  Make sure you see it on the biggest screen you can, and that includes getting to the limited run in the IMAX if at all possible.
SECOND OPINION | Stuart O'Connor ★
I'm so, so sorry to report that this sequel to the 2007 blockbuster is as bad as the original was good. Is it possible that Michael Bay only ever had one good film in him? (Although some people claim that even one is stretching it a bit far.) Everything is bigger, louder and longer this time round. And at two-and-a-half hours, Revenge of the Fallen outstays its welcome by an hour. The script comes across as though it was written by a robot, the dialogue is incomprehensible and much of the action is so confusing you've really got absolutely no idea who's good, bad – or indifferent (here's a hint: many, many audiences will fill that third slot). The characters are impossible to care about – Megan Fox is only there to seductively drape herself, semi-clothed, over any machinery she can find that has wheels – and almost all of the battles are tedious rather than exciting. The CGI is stunningly good, but at the end of the day, it's just CGI – nothing more than a bunch of pretty drawings made inside a computer by some very clever artists. Do yourself a favour – if you're craving some action this summer, go and see Star Trek again.

Official Site
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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