STARRING:  Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Isabel Lucas, Rainn Wilson

2009, 147 Minutes, Directed by:
Michael Bay

Description: Decepticon forces return to Earth on a mission to take Sam Witwicky prisoner, after the young hero learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers. Joining the mission to protect humankind is Optimus Prime, who forms an alliance with international armies for a second epic battle.

It goes without saying that if you liked the first Transformers movie, then you will like this one . . .

However, if you thought the first one was too long and too loud, then you won’t like this one either because you’d be right: Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen is too long and too loud. Affairs such as this really shouldn’t be longer than 90 minutes. Two hours is stretching it and almost two-and-a-half hours are simply way too long!

The last hour and a half or so as the plot kicked into autopilot mode and Michael Bay pulled every directorial trick out of his magician’s hat (slow-mo shots! explosions! very loud music!) I found myself wishing that something unexpected and really exciting would happen, maybe that Megan Fox would flash us her boobies or something. Alas it was not to be . . .

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is one of those critic-proof movies. Most audiences won’t care what critics have to say and will probably find themselves enjoying the movie. That is, if they can get over their sense of déjà vu whilst doing so. Transformers 2 is more of a remake than it is a sequel. In fact if you walked into the cinema halfway through the movie you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were in fact watching the first Transformers movie again! If you don’t mind coughing up the price of a full admittance ticket to see the same movie twice, then you won’t feel cheated by Revenge of the Fallen.

"If you ever wanted to see a tiny robot hump Megan Fox’s leg, then don’t miss this movie . . ."

Scenes are pretty much interchangeable: once again we have Shia LaBeouf’s hapless teenager everyman being chased by evil robots who wants . . . what? This time it is instructions on how to find a long-lost ancient machine that will blow up our sun. (Question: won’t it blow up the evil robots along with the planet?)

It doesn’t really matter, the point is that we have LaBeouf outrunning robots that should be impossible to outrun in the first place. In the action finale is character is helped, again yes, by the good shape-shifting robots and a strangely competent U.S. military – just like he was at the end of the previous movie. Only difference is that this time the finale is set in the Egyptian desert instead of downtown L.A. The first movie’s action kicked off in the desert and ended up in a city. This rehash kicks off in a city and the action finale is in the desert. Progress indeed . . .

The big-budget special effects and sound design are brilliant as always. The only problem is that the scenes with giant robots fighting it out aren’t all that emotionally involving, and take my word for it: there are lots of them. Sometimes one can’t even tell the “good” robots from the “bad” ones in any case. And the more special effects spectacle and noise Michael Bay threw at the screen, the less I found myself actually caring. “Oh no,” I often found myself groaning inwardly, “the robots are going to fight again.” In fact the best scenes are those involving the flesh-and-blood human characters, particularly those comic-relief scenes featuring LaBeouf’s ditzy mum (Julie White).

The effects also suffer from a “been there, done that” quality, especially now that the shock of the new at seeing that first robot transformation in the previous movie has long since worn off. In lieu of anything fresh or original on display director Bay has only one option left to him: to make the movie even more spectacular and noisy than before, but this remains a creative dead-end street.

Transformers 2 is sheer populist film-making. There is lots of broad comedy mostly of the crude variety that teenager boys will like. Some of it works and some don’t. But the screenplay is sloppy: some plot strands simply end up going nowhere.

The U.S. military brass suspects that something is wrong with their communications and they do . . . nothing. The scene doesn’t go anywhere. Instead Bay films some more scenes in which nothing happens as if something actually is happening. He must be the only film director in existence that films a tender, quiet scene between a boy and his girlfriend with swirling camerawork that makes one nauseous and want you to throw your popcorn at the screen yelling, “Keep the goddamn camera still already, damn it!”

In short, it’s more of the same and whether or not that’s a good thing will depend on your tastes. But if you ever wanted to see a tiny robot hump Megan Fox’s leg, then don’t you dare miss Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen . . .



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