Revenge of the Fallen
- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by David Medsker
ay this for “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”: it is without question the biggest, most insanely epic, blow-shit-uppingest action movie ever made. The problem is that that is not exactly a good thing. Instead of assembling a taut, suspenseful, action-packed thrill ride – with, you know, a plot – Michael Bay has made a movie that refuses to stop with the carnage until it has split the viewer’s skull open and feasted on the brainy goodness inside, like some demented celluloid zombie. Nonstop action is one thing: what happens here is just abuse.
The movie takes place two years after the original, and Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is off to college on the east coast, while car hound girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox, who’s introduced in a hilariously awkward “sexy” pose) and faithful Autobot Bumblebee stay behind. Before Sam leaves, he finds a piece of the super-powerful Autospark in his bag, which launches a small war in Sam’s house and then causes Sam to have vivid, symbol-ridden hallucinations once he arrives on campus. After a series of major strikes by the Decepticons across the globe, the NSA is convinced that the mere presence of the Autobots, which now fight in cooperation with the US military, is the cause of the attacks, and they take action to decommission the Transformers. Meanwhile, both Sam and his parents become persons of interest to the Decepticons, as the images that Sam is seeing in his head could be valuable in determining the origin of a centuries-old device that will grant the Decepticons extraordinary power, which it creates by destroying our sun.
Oh, to be a 13-year-old boy again. (Wait, scratch that, it was bad enough the first time.) This movie bends over backwards for them, with an endless supply of cheesecake (Fox and Isabel Lucas, who plays college temptress Alice), humping dogs (and one humping Transformer), an endless supply of explosions, and so help me God, twin jive-talking robots. (Insert your own Twiki joke here.) It also steals wholesale from “The Matrix,” from Sam’s unpleasant probing by a Decepticon to two Christ-like resurrections. Even the name of the key that will start the sun-killing device has the word “Matrix” in it.
The rule of sequels demands that the successful elements of the original movie be expanded, but Bay seems to have missed the part about giving your movie the chance to breathe. “Revenge of the Fallen” literally does not stop, flying from fight sequence to Battle of the Appliances to the most unrealistic frat party ever to Sam’s mother (the admittedly funny Julie White) losing her shit after eating a spiked brownie. And that’s just the first 20 minutes. LaBeouf and Fox are subjected to attacks that would have killed them dozens of times over, and you can only show so many transformation scenes – as well as 360-degree shots and slo-mo helicopters – before they lose all meaning. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson, once again, bring nothing to the table as G.I. Joes, while no one in the movie ever stops talking, which is pretty funny when you consider the movie is two and a half hours long and there is no real story to speak of. On a technical level, the mix job is awful, with much of that nonstop dialogue rendered unintelligible thanks to the sound effects of the ‘bots.
I’d also ask why Megatron wasn’t torn to pieces after the events of the first “Transformers” movie, but Dr. Evil’s voice reminds me that that’s just not how these things work. Keep that in mind while watching “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” Logic will try to step in and demand explanations for what is happening on-screen – such as, why the US military is so eager to work with Bay on his projects, despite the fact that he spends most of the time kicking the shit out of them – but logic is not welcome here. This will likely be fine for most people, but after last year’s smart action one-two punch of “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight,” “Fallen” feels like a massive step backward.