A Bunch of Fiddly Bits: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (DVD) Review

There are times when I marvel at the movie-making business. After watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, this is one of those days, only the marveling is a reaction of pure horror and unadulterated confusion. I must inform you right up front that I entered this movie expecting to hate it. Not only did I hate the first Transformers movie, I have been extremely critical of Michael Bay's directorial style, if one can call man-crushing fellatio of U.S. military gear and copious, irrational explosions a "style." But as bad as Bay's previous films like Armageddon and the first Transformers movies are, they cannot hold a candle to the gob-smacking incompetence displayed in this edition of the franchise. What I marvel at the most, however, is how this movie ever got made.

Film studio producers and executives are nothing if not good businessmen. Michael Bay, for all his glaring flaws, is box office gold. The first Transformers grossed over $300 million in America alone, for a production budget of half that. With that in mind, I can understand why a studio would give him $200 million to make a sequel. What I cannot understand is how any of these good businessmen could look at what passes for this movie's script and think there is anything like a worthwhile project in it. The movie is an absolute mess, and not in the normal Michael Bay wants to blow up everything sort of way. No, this movie flails from one scene to the next without any sense of rhyme or reason, with no one coherent story to tie all its disparate elements together. There are the retarded premature fetuses of story ideas here, but none are ever developed enough to make up a 30-minute TV episode on public access, much less to make up a 2 1/2 hour movie.

There's the story of Sam Witwicky, the worst-named character in movie history outside of pornography, and his impossibly hot vapid girlfriend, played by Shia LeBouef and Megan Fox respectively. Sam goes off to college and his parents suffer empty nest syndrome, eat pot brownies and vacation in France, where we assume they are abducted by evil robots since they show up later in Egypt in the clutches of an evil bulldozer robot. We never actually see them be abducted. There's the story of Sam and Mikayla, who are in a committed relationship but refuse to say "I love you" to each other before the other says it first. Sam has a transforming robot car in his garage, but he can't take the robot to college. Sam gets flashing visions from a shard of the All-Spark Cube from the first movie that he never noticed was stuck to the shirt he wore during the climactic battle of the last movie. Sam's college roommate runs a web site dedicated to exposing the truth about the alien robots that the U.S. government is hiding. For some unfathomable reason, the Decepticons send a robot disguised as a slut to tempt Sam into a kiss with a metal tentacle tongue. The Autobots and the U.S. military have teamed up to gangfuck Decepticons that are still hiding on the planet. Some Decepticons steal one thing to resurrect Megatron, who then joins some other more powerful Decepticon to get some revenge on the planet Earth by blowing up the sun. Other Autobots and Decepticons have been on Earth for years and they are hidden in plain sight somehow. And there's a key in some hidden temple that really isn't hidden because we've seen this same temple in tons of movies, a key that powers the sun-eating machine buried beneath the pyramids of Giza but has never been discovered despite all the excavations done on the site.

And on and on and on. Story kernel after story kernel pile one on top of the other at breakneck speed with no rhyme or reason. Despite being over 2 1/2 hours long, I think there might have been three or four complete sentences total. Dialogue was at an all time low. Most characters just screamed sentence fragments over each other, and when a cogent thought was presented, it was then repeated over and over again. I got the impression of gaggles of chattering monkeys howling at each other while larger metallic gorillas tossed exploding shitballs at them. Everything explodes in this movie. EVERYTHING. Shit is constantly blowing up for no reason other than someone or something waved a gun at it. I am reminded of Danny McBride's pyrotechnic character from Tropic Thunder amped up on crystal meth and Rock Star mixed with vodka. As a matter of fact, this is who I picture for the dialogue writer.

You'll notice I've said very little about the robots. That's because the robots are so rarely featured. That's right, in a movie about giant robots battling each other, I'd estimate they get about 25-35% of the screen time. When they do manage to fit in between explosions, most of them are indistinguishable from each other and anonymous. I still can't tell the difference between Megatron or Starscream when they aren't speaking. Only five of the Autobots stand out at all: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide, and the twins. Dear God, the twins, Mudflap and the other one. I'm sure you've heard about them by now, the racist stereotype Autobots who talk in hip hop slang. They are incredibly irritating. You could not have used more insulting dialogue if you had painted them in Al Jolson blackface. This is not a Jar-Jar sounds like a Jamaican type of stereotype, this is a full-blown thug life pantomime. I have named them the Thugobots, because that's what they sound like. Then there is the leg-humping, Joe Pesci Gangstacon, who farts fire - don't ask me why a robot farts. The final robotic insult comes when we are treated to the sight of Devestator's testicles in the form of two clanging wrecking balls. Why? Seriously, why was this considered a good idea? It paints the image in my mind of old man balls swinging from behind and that is hardly the image I want in my head.

But my final criticism is for the camera work. Even if the plot had been tight, the idiotic touches like Thugobots and robot testicles had been removed, the camera work is blatantly amateurish. The camera never rests. It is constantly moving, swinging around the characters in twirling 360 degree circles, images of characters running is accompanied by the camera moving in perpendicular directions. It's as if the director has no confidence in his director of photography's compositions or the story's impact, he feels the need to move the camera to add tension. All it does is make watching this shitfest even more tedious than it already is.

And yet, it has made over $400 million domestically. Michael Bay could not have made this movie any worse if he tried (though I hope he doesn't take that as a challenge). Uwe Boll would have done a better job with this movie. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and I cannot fathom the degree to which one must quiet their logic centers in order to enjoy this movie. But there you go. If American audiences weren't completely stupid before, this movie should finish off their intellect for good. I cannot in good conscience recommend this movie to anyone. I believe this is the movie they showed Malcolm McDowell's character in A Clockwork Orange to burn out the violent parts of his brain. You have been warned. Watch at your own peril, preferably drunk with a crew of ranting movie talkers shouting at the screen. It's the only way this could be an enjoyable experience.

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