I wasn’t expecting much when I popped in the DVD of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The film grossed over $400 million at the box office, but had been (almost) unanimously panned by critics. The first Transformers film was better than expected, but I had a sinking feeling the sequel was going to fall short. The sequel did fall short, but not as much as anticipated. What Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen needs more than anything is an edit from its yawn-inducing 150 minutes to a bearable 90 minutes. Here’s a few places where edits should have been made. First, edit out the ridiculous and irritating comic relief which peppers and defaces the film like buckshot on the screen. Next, shorten the battle sequences, not only do they go on to the point of boredom, but it’s near impossible to tell what is happening when the transformers battle on-screen, it becomes a mesh of CGI metal (it’s a shame to think of all the time and effort that went into getting those battle scenes just right, only to find that the audience can’t tell what’s happening). Lastly, cut the number of explosions at least by half. Most film goers like a good explosion, but when the film is two-thirds explosions, with little-to-no plot, it gets boring.
Speaking of plot, was there a plot? Yes there was, and it was all explained in one scene, in typical action movie style. Megatron and The Fallen (a metallic version of H.R. Giger’s Alien, which I don’t recall ever seeing transform) divulge their plan to locate the last bit of Energon on Earth, upon which time The Fallen will return to Earth and destroy all humanity. We half expect them to look at the camera after their speech, like Rick Moranis is Spaceballs (1987), and say, “Everybody got that?” What’s going to interest you more than the plot is why Mikaela (Megan Fox) is willing to stay with a dork like Sam (Shia LaBeouf) in a long distance relationship while he’s at college. That’s less believable than Transformers coming to Earth. Anyway, as Sam’s going to college, Mikaela is staying back home to help her father with his business. Everything turns sour when Sam discovers a piece of ‘The Cube’ stuck to his shirt from the previous film.
Despite the film’s many shortcomings, Shia LaBeouf is still entertaining and keeps the film from sinking to the bottom of the sea alongside Megatron. John Turturro is enjoyable as he reprises the role of Seymour Simmons the neurotic alien obsessed ex-government official. Rainn Wilson also gives us a few laughs as Professor Colan, and narcissistic college professor who flirts with the girls in his class. Megan Fox is merely eye candy, if she can act, it’s not being displayed here. It’d be nice to see her in a drama role, just to see if she has any genuine acting chops. One of the best moments of acting in the entire film takes place during an attack in the school library. If you pay attention, you’ll see an Asian student provide one of the best ‘scene stealing freak outs’ I’ve seen in a while.
The Transformer designs get more bizarre this time around, there’s a couple of annoying comic relief gangster wannabe transformers that I imagine most fans would liken to Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars films, there’s a Transformer that vomits smaller Transformers, which was cool in a Terminator 2 (1991) kind of way (you’ll understand if you see it). In Michael Bay’s interpretation of the Transformers universe, not only is Bumblebee a Camero (which ticks me off to no end, as he should be a VW bug, but we’ll save that discussion for another time), and Soundwave is a satellite hovering above the Earth. Also, there’s a geriatric Transformer, complete with a cane and full beard (I actually enjoyed this character as silly as it was). Fellow Transformer geeks will be glad to see the inclusion of the Constructicons, who join together to become Devastator. He’s been modernized, of course, but it was still a thrill to see one of my favorite groups of Decepticons, from my childhood, in the movie.
If you have two-and-a-half hours to waste, you’ll find some entertainment value in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, however, with little story, and an excess of explosions and comic relief, in the end it falls short.