Movie Review - Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen


7.5 out of 10

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen is one hell of a schizophrenic movie! There are parts that are terrific, high octane fun and there are parts that are so bad you can't help but cringe during them. Fallen also strives to be more adult than the original featuring more suggestive dialogue and sexual situations than the first film, but at the same time is geared more towards kids. I realize that doesn't make much sense, but here is a perfect example. There are two new Autobots (the good guys) named Skids and Mudflap who are solely in the movie to provide comic relief and crack up youngsters. The only problem is that these characters curse quite a few times. It seems like a rather odd contradiction to me. Kids run out and buy the toy versions of these lovable, silly robots... just don't repeat any of their dialogue from the movie! All in all, the good outweighs the bad, but the first film is way superior.

The basic plot is this; the Autobots have been hiding in plain sight for the past two years, aiding the U.S. military in tracking down the Decepticons left over from the first movie. Teenager Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is getting ready to start college and anxious to lead a normal life away from warring robots. Of course, things don't go as planned for Sam and once again he must play reluctant hero and save the world from the evil Decepticons. It seems the Fallen, a Decepticon leader, crash landed on Earth thousands and thousands of years ago and now wants revenge (Revenge of the Fallen... get it), planning to harness the power of our sun and destroy life as we know it. Or something like that. The story by Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman is serviceable at best, but truly in an action packed film like this featuring crazy, fierce robot action, serviceable is just fine. The script is also fine and in fact has plenty of great humor that helps both ground the movie and move it along breezily from one action sequence to the next.

This brings us to director Michael Bay. What can you say about Bay other than that he is the maestro of blockbuster, action filled, special effects extravagances. This is the man responsible for Armageddon, Bad Boys 1 and 2 and The Rock after all. The only problem with Bay is that he sometimes goes over the top with the action. He definitely amps thing up in the sequel but at times it comes off as too frantic, proving that sometimes more is less. The last third of the movie is one long battle that takes place in Egypt that seems to stretch on as far as the desert sand. It is also impossible to tell what is actually going on in some of the sequences and they come off like an orgy, mish mash of robots parts and explosions. Nonetheless, some of the action scenes are truly exhilarating (specifically ones featuring either Optimus Prime or Bumblebee) and will make your seat shake while keeping your eyes glued to the screen. It should also be noted that Bay does a fine job utilizing his actors to great effect and mining several laughs out of the comedic elements of the script.

All of the actors do the best they can with the material, but the weight of the movie clearly rest's on the shoulders of Shia LaBeouf, who ably carries the film as our reluctant hero. LaBeouf is a terribly charismatic actor with that everyman quality of Tom Hanks mixed with the quirkiness of John Cusack and he elevates some of the more banal dialogue and the movie to a new level, much like he did in the first Transformers. I shudder to think how bad these movies would be without him. Megan Fox as Sam's girlfriend Mikaela is perhaps the film's best special effect. She is eye-popping beautiful and lights up the screen every time she appears. Her role really requires her to look hot while running around screaming Sam at the top of her lungs and she completely pulls it off. She is certainly the ultimate fantasy girlfriend for teenage boys everywhere. The film does begin to lag a little in the middle, until the always wonderful, John Turturro shows up and steals every scene he is in. Turturro is brilliant and is the comic showpiece of the movie. Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime once again brings a noble, heroic charm to the Autobot leader and my only regret is that he didn't have more dialogue. The rest of the cast is fine as well, but for the most part, there isn't really much for them to sink their teeth in to.

This leads us to what is bad about Revenge of the Fallen. The new Autobots, Skids and Mudflap, are there to make kids laugh and sell toys, but come off as ridiculous goofballs that contradicts the regal, heroism of the other Autobots. They are jive-talking goofballs (one actually has a gold tooth) that look like they stepped out of a bad Disney film and I suspect they will be even more hated by fanboys than Jar Jar Binks. In fact, these two are so much worse than Jar Jar that it is like comparing Jaime Kennedy to Jim Carrey. There is also way too much potty humor, including a retarded scene where one of the tinier robots humps Megan Fox's leg.

All scenes featuring just the Decepticons are positively dreadful and will have you checking your watch. The dialogue is horrendous 1980's era cartoon lingo and none of the bad guys stand out because they are virtually indistinguishable from one another. Watching any of them prattle on about how they plan to destroy Optimus Prime and the Autobots is yawn inducing nonsense that stalls the momentum of the movie. I understand the need for these scenes, but they could've been fewer and shorter.

To sum it up, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, is a fun, mindless summer blockbuster sequel with more overall good moments than bad that doesn't quite live up to the original. Unfortunately, Revenge of the Fallen never becomes a movie that is more than meets the eye.