Without doubt, the largest surprise of 2007 was how good Michael Bay’s Transformers was. There were problems regarding the fact that Megan Fox
seems capable of bending over and not acting (as is on her CV probably), Optimus Prime had lips which just looked plain silly and all of the Decepticons were indistinguishable from each other. Overall though, it was an enjoyable watch from a childhood fan of Transformers (such as myself) and to newcomers alike.
So it was with great anticipation that I sat down and watched Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
. I had hoped that the original problems had been ironed out and an even more polished feel was to be experienced. I was wrong on so many levels. Transformers 2 takes everything that was wrong about the first film and accentuates it. Happily it does the same with the good stuff
as well. The question is: with larger multiples of good and bad, can the good rule out?
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.
Simply put: no! Why is the character of Bumblebee
reduced to the status of pet? He pines after his “master” as a dog would. What happened to the “efficient soldier” that we were shown in the first Transformers? Yes he had some quirks but he was better than your average Jack Russell.
As the film begins we see many more Autobots who “require no introduction” (except Sideswipe and the God-awful twins). The sad thing is, we should have had an introduction. I wanted to see a rundown of all of the new transformers (including the Decepticons).
Decepticons and the Fallen look almost identical and you spend a lot of time wondering whether you are looking at Starscream, Soundwave or Megatron! The Autobots look unique; why is it too much to ask that the Decepticons look different from one another? In fact the only Decepticons that break this mould are the small ones and instead of speaking another language (making them more menacing) we are left with almost all of them given embarrassingly painful voices that sounds as if they belong on an 80’s retro radio station. I do not want to listen to transforming toy cars speaking as if they could host music containing such hits as Culture Club, Wham and Spandau sodding Ballet!
Speaking of the eighties (is it deliberate on Michael Bay’s part?) another new introduction into the group of the Autobots is that of the twins. Initially starting out life as an ice cream truck they are without doubt the most annoying characters on screen since Jar Jar Binks. They both have voices that remind me of Vanilla Ice and that is a part of my memory that deserves keeping down in the dark place. They are a blatant attempt to be entertaining to kids. Unfortunately my son (who attended the showing with me) despised their existence as much as I.
Comic relief in the first Transformers film was found in a variety of characters. Sam Witwicky’s parents, Sam himself (Shia LaBeouf
) and the excellent John Turturro
. Unfortunately the only genuine human comic relief in this film were the parents (played by Kevin Dunn and Julie White). In fact from the human perspective, they hold the film together. Sadly, since they are the only ones doing so, the glue which holds Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen sadly loses its adhesive qualities.
The film spends far too long getting all of the relevant characters into the same location that you give up long before it happens. This is a great shame as fundamentally there are initially some bold decisions with regards to plot. In fact with a little reshuffle, 45 minutes shaved off of the runtime, The Fallen completely ignored and the title renamed, Transformers 2 could have been brilliant. That is, almost all of it would have been brilliant. The one single element ruining this film (from that highly edited point) is that of Megan Fox.
Why is Megan Fox still in the Transformers universe? She proved that she is incapable of acting beyond pouting, bending over and looking painfully thin. Still, this is Michael Bay’s universe and if he requires a young woman who is capable of doing nothing but looking sexy then he has that right. For me though, the inclusion of this woman is sexist. The Transformers universe is dominated with men and amongst all of this testosterone we are left with one real woman in Judy Witwicky (whose character spends most of the time whining entertainingly) and two women who spend their time licking their lips at the main character and being almost permanently on heat! Although you are making an 80’s revival film Mr Michael Bay, this doesn’t mean you can apply 80’s attitudes without cynicism! Please lose Megan Fox from the series and bring in a real actress. Surely there must be one in the world that can bend over with her backside in the air to your liking and is also capable of speaking a convincing line!
With all of this criticism comes the inevitable good stuff. This has come mainly from ILM though with the look and feel of the Autobots being convincing enough. The mechanical transformations are still a wonder to experience and after watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen you will believe a man and a huge robot can fight side by side.
Great effects do not make a great film though and after being inundated with a mish-mash storyline, misplaced and unnecessary humour throughout (Devastator’s robot “Scrotum” is mentioned for Christ’s sake) and unidentifiable robots throughout, I left the cinema both times and felt very disappointed. You heard me right. I went to see Transformers 2, because I simply couldn’t believe it was released in the state I witnessed. It felt incomplete and this was confirmed by the second, more painful viewing.
Michael Bay has proved once again that he can do big explosions with little heart (much like Pearl Harbour). Unfortunately instead accentuating what was right about the first film, he also accentuated what was very, very wrong. If Michael Bay continues to develop the series we can only hope he revisits the original beforehand to see what made that such a brilliant film. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Rating: 3 out of 5
For a different perspective check out The Substream video review