“Transformers: More Than the Eye Can Handle”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”
Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox
Directed by Michael Bay
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is not a movie. It’s an endurance test — a two and a half hour drumroll from director Michael Bay, who pulls out all the stops to ensure that the sequel to the megahit from 2007 is the biggest, loudest, most obnoxious spectacle ever made. Unfortunately, he succeeds, which also makes “Revenge of the Fallen” an assault on the senses that’s relentless, unbearable, overlong and exhausting. Honestly, it gave me a headache.
Of course, it will still make a ton of cash, just like its predecessor, which grossed $708 million worldwide. But even though the alien robots were the focus of the first movie, the story was fresh and fun enough for their human co-stars to shine through (maybe that’s because Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, who’s good at this sort of thing, was looking over Bay’s shoulder).
Not so with the sequel, which reportedly cost well over $200 million to make. This time around, it’s one explosive, destructive, eardrum-busting fight scene after another, and after a while, it gets pretty boring — something I never thought I’d say about a Michael Bay movie.
Two years have passed since awkward teenager Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) helped the Autobots save the human race from the evil Decepticons. Now it’s time for Sam to embrace his biggest adventure yet: college. But if being apart from his extremely hot girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) wasn’t hard enough, Sam is suddenly besieged by visions of The Fallen — an ancient Decepticon who threatens to destroy the planet once and for all, unless Sam and the Autobots can once again save the day. Looks like college will have to wait.
At its best, “Revenge of the Fallen” is an incredible demo reel for Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects house responsible for the best visual effects to grace the big screen for more than three decades. But the action scenes are so hyper-kinetic, outlandish and redundant that they feel gratuitous. They’re also wasted, because Bay doesn’t keep the camera still long enough for the viewer to absorb what’s happening (an annoying technique he also used on 1998’s “Armageddon,” which now feels like “2001: A Space Odyssey” by comparison).
As for the story — written by Ehren Kruger with Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (who co-wrote the first “Transformers,” as well as this summer’s excellent “Star Trek” reboot) — it gets completely overwhelmed by Bay’s mission to turn it up and keep it up for the duration of the movie. The actors get overwhelmed too, which says a lot when even the gorgeous Megan Fox gets lost in the shuffle. Shia LaBeouf is engaging enough, and Julie White, who plays his lunatic mother, is pretty funny. But Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson are completely wasted as the military field commanders who try their best to scream over the noise.
This summer’s “Terminator Salvation,” which resembled a “Transformers” movie at times, also had a lot of screaming and fighting, but at least director McG knew enough to take a breather every once in a while. Not so with “Revenge of the Fallen,” but if you have the stamina to pass Michael Bay’s endurance test — which will no doubt get you pumped up for the third installment (due in the summer of 2011) — then more power to you.
Verdict: SKIP IT!