Wow, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen sure made a truckload of money for being such a craptacular movie.
I read somewhere that only The Dark Knight made more money in a shorter amount of time. That's not the company Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen deserves to be in.
I remember enjoying the first Transformers flick for the most part. Part of that was nostalgia. Part of that were the spectacular special effects. I never called it a good film, I just said I sort of enjoyed it.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen just sort of bludgeoned me into submission. I left feeling tired, disoriented and wondering what had just happened. I've heard the movie equated to porn. The comparison is fair.
To talk about Transformers 2, you actually have to talk about Michael Bay, the film's director. You have to do it partly because, well, there's just not that much to talk about with regard to the film itself.
Here's what you need to know about Michael Bay. He makes beautiful, bombastic movies, which really shouldn't be any surprise given that his first directorial credit was a Playboy centerfold video.
If the guy was just a cinematographer, he'd be one of the best in the business. Instead, he's a director.
As a storyteller, he's actually getting worse. Bay's first film was Bad Boys, which was another sorta-fun-to-watch but ultimately dumb movie. That particular film gets worse on repeated viewings.
Then he did The Rock, which I really don't have any problems with. It's pretty good for what it is, and as far as I know, it was the last film to feature Sean Connery as a badass.
Then came Armageddon. That movie is so dumb on so many levels I get aggravated just thinking about it. But again, it's a pretty movie.
Don't believe me? Go back and watch the shots of people around the world looking up at the sky, waiting for the asteroid to hit. It's a bunch of visually stunning Kodak moments.
After that, he did Pearl Harbor. Same m.o.--pretty and dumb. I think on the whole it's better than Armageddon, but it's still pretty bad.
After ruining WWII for the vets, he went back to the well and made Bad Boys II, which was even worse than the first film. In fact, the weekend I was supposed to originally review the sequel, I caught the first film on TNT on a Thursday night. I was so disgusted I spent the whole review of Bad Boys II explaining why I didn't bother to go see it. It's actually one of my favorite reviews I've written. I've since seen the film and I'm happy to say it lived up to my degradations.
After Bad Boys II, Bay actually made a movie I liked. It was a sort of high-concept sci-fi flick called The Island. Bay was actually recruited by Steven Spielberg to make the movie. At the time, I remember Spielberg saying something like Bay was the second coming of Spielberg.
Certainly comparisons could be made between their ability to make films that appeal to the masses. Spielberg, however, is clearly the better storyteller. I don't see Bay ever making a Schindler's List, for instance, though I doubt Bay would disagree with me. He's entirely unapologetic.
The other difference between Bay and Spielberg, apart from the fact that, again, Bay is the better cinematographer... Bay seemingly just makes movies to see how much shit he can blow up.
Which leads us to Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Again, Transformers seems to be the intellectual property Michael Bay was born to direct. The basic premise is dumb all on its own. It features giant robots with guns, which of course provide inherent opportunities for giant-sized mayhem (Or "Bayhem" has Hollywood has taken to calling his cinematic exploits). The fact that these giant robots can change into cars and trucks and tanks and planes pretty much absolves Bay of having to care one bit about any sort of plausible plot or character development. Transformers can only be massive spectacle. Bay's the perfect guy for the job.
As to why that would appeal to the masses? Well, why were the gladiators so popular in Rome? Why do people watch NASCAR?
Are we not entertained?
There's no need to make a "good" movie when you have a $150 million FX budget. Hell, man, just make sure the transforming trucks and tanks look tremendous and presto, instant hit.
The Transformers films are outrageously bad and just as popular. The process is complete: we no longer care nor are we able to recognize whether or not the stuff Hollywood is churning out is any good. As long as it blows up and there's a hot chick in it, we're in.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is pretty much a simultaneous celebration of what's right and wrong in Hollywood. On the one hand, you've never seen FX like these before. On the other, you've never seen a tentpole summer release this shallow and vapid.
I mean, there's almost no "plot" to give you. The story just dances around like a meth addict at an arcade.
That said, I'll try. Here goes...
I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is about to go to college, and because he's challenged in some way, he's going to school on the other side of the country away from his super hot girlfriend, Mikaela (Megan Fox) and his transforming, sentient robot Camaro. Sam just wants to lead a normal life. Or something.
Meanwhile, the Autobots (the good robots), lead by Optimus Prime, have colluded with the U.S. government to help hunt down and eradicate any remaining Decepticons (the bad robots) from the planet. Back from the first film, Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and USAF Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson) are part of the strike force with the Autobots.
All the robots, good and bad, try to keep their presence a secret from everyone but the military.
Apparently, the events of the first film are not the first time Earth has played host to transformers. Back when we were a primitive people, a ship bearing the ancestors of the modern transformers crashed on Earth. As those primitive transformers searched the planet for more energon (the substance that keeps them functioning), there was dissension in their ranks. One of them wanted to destroy our galaxy to harvest the power of the sun, but that would've killed humanity, so the rest of his kind banded together to banish him and hide an artifact from him. Or some such.
The Decepticons on Earth are still looking for that artifact, and for more energon. Apparently Sam has some information that'll lead to one or both of those things, so the Decepticons are out to get him. Cause the information is trapped in his brain, obviously. Strange symbols are afoot.
That sort of sounds like it makes perhaps a tiny bit of sense. But then a big fight happens and then the point of the movie becomes something else. I could tell you, but I'd be ruining things for you (if you could see me, I'd be rolling my eyes).
Now, here's a small taste of other things that pollute the two-and-a-half hours you'll spend watching the movie: giant robot balls (couldn't make that up), little robots that hump Megan Fox's leg and fart fireballs, twin robots who think they're "gangstas" (complete with gold teeth, yo), an "old" robot with a beard, memory loss and a cane and John Turturro's bare ass.
The whole thing is just an excuse to throw giant robots on screen and let them bash each others' parts out. It is awful.
But damn if it doesn't look good.
There's this one slo-mo shot, a close up of Megan Fox's face with a helicopter flying above her amidst the Bayhem that's almost sublime. It's a really, really beautiful moment in the movie, and the film is actually full of shots like this. Like I said before, if he were just a cinematographer, he'd be the best in the business. I sure wish the guy would work on his storytelling.
The special FX are outstanding, possibly the best, most photorealistic ever.
But the parts you've been waiting to hear about are the explosions. If you're into explosion porn, this is the movie for you. I have never seen so many big, beautiful explosions in any other movie, and with Bay's cinematography, they're stunning to watch. The sound of these things kicks you in the guts; you don't just see them, you feel them.
That sounds like an endorsement. Please don't take it as such.
Then again, what do you care what I think? You've already seen it.
Final verdict: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen... it blows.
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