Monday, August 3, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a movie that hasn't gotten an objective critique from either side of the aisle — the critics all seemed predisposed to hate it, while the Michael Bay fanboys were all too busy drinking Red Bull while high fiving and jerking each other off in the theater. Contrary to what either side would have you believe, it is neither a cinematic hate crime nor one of the best action movies of the year, or the summer (although it was probably the best action movie the weekend it came out).

It is, in fact, the most mediocre movie ever made; a new high watermark for halfheartedly putting forth the bare minimum of story to be palatable while painting it with as many computer graphics as humanly possible. Since it's more special effects reel than legitimate movie, I figure I don't need to write a legitimate review, so instead I'll just list the top five things I liked and top five things I hated about it. By the way, I'm just going to spoil everything because I don't give a shit, so if the plot of this Shakespearian opus actually matters to you, don't read any further.

Top five things I liked about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:

5. In one scene, Shia LaBeouf gets into an argument with two generic popped-collar 'roided-out frat boys, and sarcastically recommends that one of them get a tighter shirt. The oblivious bro proudly shouts, "There isn't a tighter shirt, we checked!" This made me guffaw like a drunken moron.

4. Megan Fox's hotness has kind of become a cliché, but her bare, sweat-dappled flesh is pretty much the only thing Michael Bay contains his OCD for long enough to focus on for more than three seconds at a time without cutting, and she's by far the best special effect he has to work with. If she ever gets naked in a movie, I will go see that movie. Oh yes, I will see that movie.

3. The first Transformers had about eight bullshit subplots with all the boring-ass human characters it cut between (several of which never even had any resolution; the last time we saw that annoying blonde hacker and Anthony Anderson was when they were fighting in the final battle!), but Revenge of the Fallen pretty much pares things down to Shia LaBeouf and his unit, the soldiers, and the Decepticons. Much less shitty and annoying.

2. In both the single stupidest and single most entertaining plot element of the movie, a Decepticon disguises itself as a hot human college chick so it can get close enough to Shia to kill him. This is mind-numbingly stupid because if the Decepticons had this technology they would just flood the world's militaries and governments with thousands of these dopplegangers, but entertaining because it reminded me of Terminator.

1. Near the midpoint of the movie they kill off Optimus Prime! I love when movies and shows kill off main characters like that, and it temporarily tricked me into thinking I was watching a good movie.

Top five things I hated about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen:

5. In the world of the movie, the Transformers are now a rumored myth whispered of by few who are written off by the rest of civilization as crackpot conspiracy theorists. Correct me if I'm wrong, but at the end of the first movie I could have sworn there was a giant thirty-minute melee in a large American city between all the Autobots and all the Decepticons, flinging humans around, climbing buildings, throwing cars, brawling up and down the streets. So, uh, no one busted out their cell phone camera and recorded this? And none of the million or so witnesses told any of their friends or colleagues about the giant robot melee? Right then.

4. Although there are thankfully less of them this time around, the human characters all continue to be token exposition machines to lead us from robot battle to robot battle. There's this really shitty and embarrassing subplot between Shia and Megan Fox where Megan Fox is upset that after two years Shia still hasn't been able to tell her he loves her. Eventually he does, which is cringe-inducing, but on the other hand it's the only bit of development any character has in the entire movie besides a little Decepticon dog who falls in love with Megan Fox and turns to the side of good (and humps her leg, hyuck hyuck).

3. Everyone and their grandma has already written about the two twin Autobots who speak with generic black accents and ghetto slang and have gold teeth and can't read and act like goofy shitheads through the entire movie. Yeah, it's probably racist. But my real problem with them was that they were so fucking annoying; Jar Jar Binks-annoying, although fortunately they didn't have as high a percentage of screentime. Jar Jar sucks, Dobby sucks, and the Twins suck. Filmmakers should stop attempting CGI comic relief sidekicks forever.

2. One thing you may or may not know about me is that my single greatest fiction pet peeve is bringing dead characters back to life. I want to shoot the TV / movie theater screen and / or throw a book in the fire every time this happens. So imagine my horror in the third act when the characters realize that they can undo the one thing that almost made me like the movie — Optimus Prime dying — with some kind of fucking fairy dust, and fuck me in the ass with a tree branch if they don't do just that. Motherfuckers.

In fact, Michael Bay shows a pathological aversion to killing off a single good guy through the entire film. John Turturro really should have died. He a) was villainous in the first film before redeeming himself in this one, making him a prime candidate for heroic sacrifice, b) has just enough screentime to make his potential death dramatic while not enough to make it a damper on the happy ending, and c) states his willingness to die to stop the Decepticons. But nope, not a single one of the huge cast of good guys dies and stays dead the entire movie. Michael Bay, you are vagine.

1. Aside from Knowing, this movie has the worst, most nonsensical, most exhausting climactic sequence of the year, some forty minutes of Shia LaBeouf running through the desert, a giant Decepticon vacuum cleaner trying to suck up the Twins and John Turturro, soldiers shooting at ambiguous targets, and repetitive robot fighting. It's absolutely awful, such a blaring mess that by the end you're willing to get down on your knees and beg to the screen to let the suffering stop. The entire third act and the climax essentially blur together into one unholy endless clusterfuck. I'm not sure a climax technically even counts as a "climax" if just keeps going and going and going and going and going and going and going.

To add insult to fucking injury, once Shia gets the pixie dust to Optimus Prime and he comes back to life, rather than having a respectable final battle with Megatron, Optimus is now gifted with the holy power and just casually tears Megatron apart in about fifteen tension-free seconds. Oh, screw you, Michael Bay.

All in all, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is like the Cheetos of summer movies. It's sort of entertaining going down, but it makes a mess and you'll feel guilty and bad and a little sick as soon as you're done with it. If they make a third one I'll probably go see it because I'm kind of a dumbass, but if they don't, I'm pretty sure my heart will go on.

2 Stars out of 5

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