Posted on 7/04/11 06:45 PM
A little over two years ago, I saw Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in theaters during a midnight screening on its day of release. Somehow I managed to sit through a two and a half hour movie, drive home, write a review, post it, and promote it all before I went to bed that morning at 5am. Looking back, I still have no idea how something like that was accomplished while also juggling a full-time job. Needless to say, I've been eager to revisit Revenge of the Fallen ever since. Delirium begins to set in at that hour and midnight screenings are rarely ever not fun. Not to mention my skills as a movie critic have evolved greatly since then and my tastes have altered. The movie deserved a proper review with a sober state of mind. And yes, thankfully, the trip was worth taking because I'm not quite as enthusiastic about Revenge of the Fallen being such a great piece of cinema as its glaring flaws tend to overshadow what little good it had going for it.
The writing is obviously the sequel's biggest flaw and not just the storyline, but the dialogue as well. The Fallen touched down on earth all the way back in 17,000 B.C. and while we've been able to uncover the likes of cavemen existing thereabouts during that time period, there's no evidence of autobots or decepticons existing in that point in history. With the way they fight and their vast numbers, that seems pretty hard to believe. Oh, and look, Sam has held onto the shirt he wore when the world almost came to an end in the last movie and apparently hasn't ever washed it. A sliver of the allspark has just been sitting in that thing this entire time. Alice actually being a decepticon didn't feel right either. Probable maybe, but it just didn't seem to fit with all other transformers being vehicles of some kind. Meanwhile Soundwave is a satellite in this movie, but walks around on earth with some crazy worm thing in Dark of the Moon with no reason of him evolving between films.
The movie has a thing about humping, too. We see two male dogs humping on more than one occasion and Wheelie also humps the crap out of Megan Fox's leg, but that's not the only time male genitalia comes into play. We also get a good glimpse at the testicles of the Sun Harvester as John Turturro spits out a one-liner about its scrotum. Leo and his freaking out over absolutely everything is also really annoying and makes Shia LaBeouf's "BUM-BULL-BEE!!!" and "OP-TIM-US!!!" squawks feel like a breath of fresh air. Sam's parents are practically the kryptonite of the movie as they're featured way too much and in the worst of times. Sam's mom has the lamest dialogue while also overreacting to everything while his dad can't decide to let Sam go or protect him. Why they were ever even Egypt is a boggling question in itself. Why are there autobots in heaven? If Megatron's master was The Fallen and he took orders from Sentinel Prime in Dark of the Moon, just how many other Decepticons does he answer to? The questions and plot holes just seem endless.
The atrocious dialogue practically echoes through your bones. It starts with Ironhide saying, "Punk ass decepticon," and never really lets up. Between Sam's parents "smelling" a "$40,000 education," and Simmons telling everyone that what he was about to show them was "top secret" and "do not tell my mother," the bases are pretty much covered. Military sergeants listening to a kid in college seems outlandish anyway, but throwing their absolute blind faith in him seems really outrageous. I realize the cast of the movie had the writer's strike to deal with, but two of the three writers for Revenge of the Fallen also wrote Star Trek which showed none of the same problems that this movie had. The writing in a Michael Bay movie is already secondary. Throw in a writer's strike and you've got something as apocalyptic behind the camera as what's taking place on screen.
There is something entertaining deep within the loins of this cinematic abomination though. The special effects are more than satisfying and pretty much outshine the special effects in the first movie. Onscreen battles are more extraordinary, explosions are bigger, and the numbers are more massive. It feels more like an actual war this time around. Bumblebee also gets his time to shine in the sequel. His scene in the garage with Sam at the start of the movie is one of the better calm scenes in the entire thing and then there are his fight scenes. Several of the fight scenes seem inspired by Mortal Kombat; Bumblebee's spine-rip sequence and Optimus' face ripping and hand bursting through the chest of The Fallen with its villainous heart. Optimus feels very scarcely used in the two Transformers sequels. He has a few scenes where he gets to be awesome and then spends a good portion of the movie being incapacitated. At least he was dead in this one, that's a liable excuse. In Dark of the Moon, he's basically just hanging out upside down for thirty to forty minutes while hundreds of people die. Even though The Fallen is dealt with in a matter of minutes, he is kind of cool. He teleports a lot like Nightcrawler and is voiced by Tony Todd. Unfortunately, he's only appealing on the surface, kind of sucks as a main villain, and is a total embarrassment to the decepticons.
Michael Bay needs to learn that more explosions and more destructive mayhem don't automatically make a film better than its predecessor. There are more battles between the autobots and decepticons, the stakes are higher, and the special effects are more impressive, but it's essentially just eye candy or like giving reconstructive facial surgery to a really hideous person; they're still ugly but their appearance is at least nice to look at now. With a storyline that jumps all over the place for no rhyme or reason, really terrible dialogue being spewed from just about every major character, and The Twins probably being more offensive than they are humorous, Revenge of the Fallen falls short of being half as good as Bay's original effort and is quite difficult to think of as anything more than a guilty pleasure.