If it’s destruction and mayhem on an unprecedented scale that you’re after, then be sure to rush to see the second instalment of the Transformers film series. Sadly you’re unlikely to be rewarded with much more than a pounding headache.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen kicks off shortly after the events of the 2007 film. Sam (Shia LaBoeuf) is still dating Mikaela (Megan Fox) and is about to move out of his parents’ home and head for college.
He keeps a robot in the garage for protection, but thanks to a crack team of Autobots and US soldiers the evil Decepticons are being kept at bay around the world.
That changes, of course, when Sam discovers a forgotten shard of the Allspark (see the first film) while a gang of ancient Decepticons return to earth seeking revenge on mankind. Quite honestly, the plot seems like it was made up day-by-day as the crew were shooting the film. It is filled with needless complications, too many characters and overly dense explanations which don’t serve any purpose.
Director Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor, Armageddon) was clearly unsatisfied with his first Transformers outing, but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of working on a well-thought out story with interesting characters, he seems to believe that ramping up the mayhem is the way to go. That means we get a bigger, longer, noisier, and more chaotic and meaningless film than before.
It’s ultimately all about blowing things up. And in Revenge of the Fallen, this is taken to a new level. Highways, school buildings, forests, Paris, New York, the pyramids at Giza and aircraft carriers are just some of the unfortunate structures and places that are destroyed with gay abandon.
I have nothing against spectacle and there is admittedly plenty of it here; the problem is that it’s mostly devoid of any emotional meaning. There is also just so darn much of it, and for so very long, that any impact begins to devolve into sheer boredom.
It also doesn’t help that the frenetic style of the film often obscures the identities of the clashing robots. It’s hard to know
who’s fighting who. It’s an orgy of metal in which our characters become an unrecognisable whirling and clanging blur of parts. The last half hour of Revenge of the Fallen is literally mind-numbing.
Having said that, the special effects are without a doubt the film’s greatest achievement. The integration of the robots with their surroundings and the human characters is flawless. These computer graphic creations appear to have real weight and mass in a way that was lacking in the first film. It’s a pity that all that skill and effort was not put to use in a better film.
The actors are capable and generally shine when they actually have something interesting to do, but the script lets them down every time. Ultimately we don’t ever believe that any of them are really at risk or in danger at any time.
It’s thanks to LaBoeuf’s goofy charm that I kept watching. The first part of the film focuses largely on his character – and seems to hint at the possibility of a sincere attempt at character development, until all is lost to the ensuing chaos. Fox had her already-substantial lips plumped up for the film; it looks comical and that’s all I could focus on whenever she was on screen. She also gets to do little else other than suggestively bend over whilst wearing tight shorts (of course, we have no such luck when it comes to LaBoeuf).
It all points to the reality that these films are aimed at prepubescent, hormonally unbalanced boys who’re obsessed with fast cars, big guns and badass robots. Yes, there’s still one of those somewhere deep inside of me – which explains what little enjoyment Revenge of the Fallen had to offer – but these days I expect a little more to also fulfil the grown-up within.
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