Thursday, June 25, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

*Spoiler Alert* I don't give away any huge pieces of the story, but if you are concerned about your Transformers experience being 100% spoiler free, than you should hold off on reading this.

When I sit down to a Michael Bay film I take a deep breath, grab the armrests of my chair, and hope that Bay hasn’t completely botched another potentially great blockbuster.

If the first Transformers movie has only a dash of Bay’s over-the-top imagination, pathetic attempts at comedy, and slow-mo sequences, then Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has a colossal helping of the same elements.

Just like the first film, the second opens with narration from Optimus Prime, oddly starting with a scene from 17,000 B.C., in which humans encounter an army of Decepticons building a machine that you later find out is supposed to harvest the sun. This left me with a sense of foreboding. Michael Bay has his dirty little hands all up in this movie and this is only the beginning. I was also reminded of 10,000 B.C. (2008) and how thankful I am to have never seen that movie.

Revenge of the Fallen takes place two years after the first film. Autobots are partnered with an elite branch of the American military and together they hunt down Decepticons across the globe. Soon, it becomes clear that the Decepticons are mounting a comeback by ciphering bits of intelligence from a U.S. spy satellite, giving them the location of a chip of the Allspark and Megatron’s burial site. A second piece of the Allspark in Sam Witwicky’s (Shia LaBeouf) possession transfers information into his brain about the location of the key to the sun-harvesting machine.

The quest for said key and the information in Witwicky’s brain culminates in a desert battle scene chockablock of Bay trademarks. The number of slow motion sequences is agonizingly painful, especially when you realize Bay just decided it was a great time for slow-mo because Megan Fox was running in a low-cut tank top. Bay loves illogical jumps and plot twists, such as a powerful rail gun that slices a Decepticon into pieces and then disappears from the rest of the film even though it clearly has the potential to singlehandedly win this war for the Autobots and humans. And then there is The Fallen. One would guess this refers to the Decepticons because they fell in battle at the end of the first film. No, that’s logical. Instead The Fallen is literally the name of the leader of the Decepticons who has a relationship with Megatron, which exactly mirrors the relationship between the Emperor and Darth Vader in Star Wars.

Bay’s instinct is to one up all the most ridiculous ideas advanced by the viewer. His attempts at comedy in the first film were somewhat admirable and only occasionally obnoxious. However, with the introduction of comedy relief team, Mudflap and Skids, two Autobots who speak in rap jargon, can’t read, and have gold teeth, we are reminded of why Bay makes all the “Worst Director” lists to be found across the internet. Throw in some scrotum jokes and dog-humping scenes and you have the complete spectrum of Bay humor.

The moments that save Revenge of the Fallen from being a complete catastrophe are predictably given to us by some good old-fashioned special effects and fight scenes with support from John Turturro’s turn as Agent Simmons, who makes the most of his stilted lines with dry and witty delivery. But ultimately, Bay just leaves you asking why. Like why didn’t he make use of Rainn Wilson’s talent for comedy instead of having a character accidentally taser himself in the genitals? Why is it that Bay, and not J.J. Abrams, will be in control of Transformers 3?

There is no doubt about it. Bay botched this one. File it away with Armageddon, Bad Boys I & II, The Island, and Pearl Harbor. However, that won’t keep the movie from being extremely popular with fan boys for its delivery of sprawling action and Megan Fox in tight pants. I think we will all find out what we have been missing in twenty years when a brilliant director gets their hands on the rights to this movie and remakes it into the stellar movie it could have been.

1 comment:

jarrodrenaud said...

J.J. Abrams. yes. That needs to happen.