Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Review by Throwback

I didn’t like the first Transformers movie. I saw the second one anyway. Why? Because it’s about giant robots fighting each other. There’s something innately cool about that. So much so, that you have to figure that making a movie about it almost HAS to be good. You would figure that right up until you find out that Michael Bay is the director. I fear it was this ingredient is what doomed the original and the sequel, Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen.


The muddled two and half hours of ostensible plot begins with the return of Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, now departing for college and leaving his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) behind. At the same time, Optimus Prime and the other Autobots (the good guys) are hunting Decepticons (the bad guys) all over the planet with the sanction of the United States government. Things are going fine until they’re told that “The Fallen will rise” which diverts the story into an odd rip-off of Stargate. I’m serious about that. There should have been a lawsuit filed. But hey, just because something is a rip-off doesn’t mean it has to be bad.  


It all started so promising. There was a huge brawl between giant robots in the middle of Shanghai. It was awesome. Then, in an apparent outbreak of insanity, Bay and the writers decided to include overhalf an hour of well-nigh slapstick comedy, featuring such items as Sam’s mother stupidly wailing over his baby booties, Sam’s mom getting high on fun brownies, Sam’s roommates pretending to be internet moguls, and so forth. This is actually the main tone of the movie. There are two excellent action sequences of ten or so minutes a piece, if that much. These are spliced together by completely inane attempts at humor that were good for about as many laughs as Sophie’s Choice. The big climactic battle is really just Sam and Mikaela running while stuff blows up around them. That gets very old after the first twenty minutes or so.


There are plenty of folks who don’t like LaBeouf and Fox, but I don’t think I can hold these performances against them. Nobody could make this writing sound good. Oh, and they brought back John Tuturro to reprise his role from the first installment. Staying true to form, he is pretty horrific and really is just there to provide more, ahem, "humor" to take the place of any real storyline. Did I mention Tyrese is back, too? “We’ve shed blood, sweat, and precious metal together.” No, that’s a real line from the movie. And it wasn’t even one of the parts that was trying to be funny. That was some of the serious dialogue. No cast can make up for that kind of stuff. When it’s delivered by a group that’s already a bit on the weak side, the result isn’t all that great.


I say all this as a guy who has liked Michael Bay movies. They aren’t all terrible. What he’s done to the Transformers franchise is inexplicable, though. They’re giant robots fighting each other. How can you mess this up? By taking the story away from the giant robots at war and delivering it into the hands of an awful script that spends probably ¾ of the show trying to be a comedy. Who does something like that? How about just letting the giant robots fight it out? It’s not an exaggeration to say that the two battle scenes at the beginning and middle are fantastic. To know that this film could have been a tight 120 minutes or less with the bulk of it focusing on the Autobot/Decepticon war really makes the disappointment all the greater.


There’s about as much Catholic content in Revenge of the Fallen as you’d find in your average Three Stooges feature. Well, maybe not that bad. There is a theme of altruism and self-sacrifice, but it’s nothing more than the same stuff  that would turn up in a  secular movie.


As was the case with the first Transformers, the content is an additional let-down. Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t have as many sexual references, though they are there, but the language is worse, complete with f-bombs and blasphemy. The violence is graphic, but it’s mostly robot parts. If parents are more worried about that than the aforementioned items, I’d say that’s a big problem.


Bottom line is that it’s not that good. At all. Stick with the classic 1986 animated movie or the first generation cartoons if you’re looking for some Transformer entertainment. I give it half a tiara, which it only merits because of those two fight scenes. The rest of the movie was absolutely terrible in every way.