Most franchises have one installment that is the universally hated runt of the litter. Star Wars has The Phantom Menace, Spider Man has it’s third installment, and Transformers has Revenge of the Fallen. It’s been almost universally proclaimed to be not only a disappointing sequel, but an absolutely terrible film on it’s own two legs. Basically, it’s a punchline in the geek community. Is it as bad as all that? My answer might surprise you (but we might also discover life on Jupiter today, you just never know).
The film picks up two years after the events of the original. Somehow, the massive battle between the Autobots and Decepticons has been placed under wraps by the government (thanks Obama), and the Autobots are now a member of a covert Strike force known as NEST as they hunt down their remaining enemies. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is off to college, leaving his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) all by her lonesome as she wonders whether he can muster up the courage to tell her that he loves her. As Sam is about to leave, he discovers a piece of the destroyed Allspark in his jacket, and upon touching it starts seeing ancient symbols in his head. At the same time, the Decepticons use another piece of the cube to revive Megatron (Hugo Weaving), who joins his long dormant commander known as The Fallen to activate a weapon in the pyramids that will destroy the sun…or something.
Once again, who cares, ROBOTS!
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is most certainly a weaker film then it’s predecessor for a plethora of reasons. However, before we rip this thing a new one, I must pay it a major complement. The first third really works. Granted it’s not the most well written thing in the world, but it’s a really fun Transformers movie for a little while. There’s a great deal of rip roaring robot action directed with a much more assured hand by Michael Bay, the humor works for the most part, and every time you stop to dwell on something stupid, the movie kicks you in the head with some more action. It feels ripped straight from the cartoon.
but then…all that fun evaporates so fast that it’s dizzying.
The second act of the movie slows down a little bit as we travel to Egypt and cycle through endless exposition that we doesn’t matter about a power source called The Matrix of Leadership, the history of the primes, and a bunch of other nonsense. All that would be fine if our characters were likable, but it’s as if Bay went out of his way to make sure this was not the case. Optimus Prime, by far the most interesting character in the series, is taken out of the story and we’re stuck with Sam, Mikaela, the disgraced Agent Simmons (John Turturro), Sam’s roommate Leo (Ramon Rodriguez), and two distinguished Autobots by the name of Skids and Mudflap. Three duos of pure annoying. The manic mannerisms that made LaBeouf so likable in the first film really start to wear thin here, Fox is a little less wooden but is given hardly anything to do. Turturro goes even more annoyingly over the top then before, and he spends a great deal of time with Rodriguez, who manages to be even worse. I’m not sure where they dug this guy up, but he is poisonous on screen, painfully whiney and without one interesting quality. Skids and Mudflap are silly racial stereotypes who don’t do a damn thing. I don’t find them quite as offensive as some do, and they made me giggle once or twice, but they don’t contribute anything.
After we spend a while with these guys talking over each other, we move into the climax, which is by far the most generic of the large scale action sequences in the series. Set in the droning, endless desert, there is not a second of it that does not resemble the preceding, and succeeding second. It’s just a whole bunch of yelling, running through explosions in slow motion, and focusing on every character except for the good ones until the absolute tail end. Seriously, Prime is in this thing for such a short amount of time that you’ll wonder who he is when he returns, and the villains…good god. I’m still not sure why Megatron is different from any of the other Decepticons, and the Fallen is an endlessly corny, and ultimately useless piece of window dressing.
After the first third, the humor is completely flat. It’s either unbelievably forced banter, or silly potty humor. It doesn’t help that returning supporting players Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson are given absolutely nothing to do. Gibson in particular is embarrassing here, all of his dialogue just restating what happened in the scene.
Also, while I’m not one to complain about plot holes in a movie like this, there are some things in this movie that just defy even the most basic, kindergarden logic. Seriously, How the hell is it that in this day and age the government is able to cover up a city-wide battle where hundreds, if not thousands of people were killed by aliens. I guess every single witness was stepped on.
This film is a product of the writer’s strike, and it shows. In the first half, when it’s Bay’s show, the movie is a lot of fun, but as soon as the script steps into the drivers seat, this thing just falls apart. By the time we end up at that impressively shot, but ultimately meaningless climax, we just don’t care anymore. I don’t thing this film is quite as terrible as people make it out to be, but it’s most certainly the worst of the trilogy.