There are many things that you can say about director Michael Bay (The Rock), but the one thing I never thought I would ever say is that he could make a boring movie. YES, Michael Bay has delivered a truly bland, uninspired and BORING film with the mega budget follow-up to his worldwide blockbuster, Transformers. Conceived during the writer’s strike, Revenge of the Fallen brings back most of the main characters plus robots, both old and new, but there is a flatness to the entire affair. If I sound greatly disappointed as I write this it’s because I’m a big fan of the original film. I was looking forward to this sequel being a really fun, involving, summer movie – an event film well worth going to the theater to see. The original is one of my favorite popcorn films of the last decade.
In so many ways, Bay’s follow is the definition of the term ‘sequalitis’ (yes, I know that’s not really a word). The same components from the original are there but, for one reason or another, it has almost none of the first film’s magic. Think of the difference between 48 Hours and its sequel Another 48 Hours. Same actors, same premise, NO magic.
Bay clearly made a fatal mistake with the ‘bigger, faster, louder’ theory. Just because something is wider in scope doesn’t mean it’s any better. Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are back as Sam and Mikaela, our two likeable heroes from the first film. Sam’s about to go to college on the East Coast and Mikaela is running an auto body shop with her father in LA. Right before Sam leaves he discovers a shard of the all-powerful, presumed destroyed, all spark cube. After it causes havoc by producing a dozen or so mini decepticons that wreak havoc on his house (in the film’s only moment of real energy and sense of fun) he gives it to his girlfriend Mikaela for safe keeping.
Meanwhile the decepticon’s looking to resurrect their fallen leader Megatron, who is lying on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, are soon hot on their trail. With the help of the good Autobots, Sam and Mikaela have no choice but to go on the run in hopes of finding a way to conquer the alien adversaries. I can assure you the plot is not only thin but it quickly heads down the road to blandness after the first 45 minutes. The next two hours are pretty painful to sit through. When the story has our characters appearing in Egypt for the film’s last half, the whole exercise grinds to a halt and becomes a bore fest of epic proportions. It appeared to me that Bay shot a bunch of extraneous footage for this film’s section and used it for the sake of using it as it doesn’t advance the story in the least.
One of the things I enjoyed so much about Bay’s first Transformers was the humor. It was funny. The scenes featuring the computer hacker (Anthony Anderson) had me buckled over in laughter. He added so much to that film’s overall sense of fun. No such luck this time around. Just about every attempt at humor falls completely flat. From the extended sequence of Sam’s mom (Julie White) hopped up on pot brownies to humping dogs to the twin jive talking and pretty offensive twin autobots named Skids and Mudflap, every attempt is a misfire. Kevin Dunn (Sam’s Father) who was so appealing the first time around is wasted filler in this outing. John Turturro returns, this time as a former G-man who is now a butcher in a Brooklyn Deli. He gives it his all but even his zaniness is not enough to make much of a difference, even in the one scene where he appears wearing a g-string. Okay, I guess it was a decent site gag.
It’s nice to see Optimus and Bumble Bee once again who supply a few brief moments of excitement. Shia LaBeouf is a solid lead but, for the most part, he’s buried amongst the noise of Giant Robots fighting throughout. Megan Fox is even more just eye candy the second time around. Director Bay clearly shows no confidence in her ability to act, giving her little to do except look hot. Not exactly a blueprint for a steady career in feature films. While it’s unlikely she will be beating out actresses like Rachel McAdams for roles she must aspire to be more than this.
The Robots are extremely well done. Bay has clearly mastered CGI but you can only watch them fighting each other so long before you ask yourself “what else is going on here? The answer… not much! Revenge of the Fallen -1.5 out of 5 and a MAJOR disappointment.