DVD Release Date: October 20, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: June 24, 2009
Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material and brief drug material)
Run Time: 150 min.
Director: Michael Bay
Actors: Shia LeBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Isabel Lucus, Rainn Wilson, Tyrese Gibson, Hugo Weaving, Isabel Lucas, Ramon Rodriguez
File Under: Well, now I know …
Just in case you've ever wondered what it's like to watch someone else play videogames for two and a half hours, sitting through Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will definitely satiate your curiosity. And yes, it's just as boring and uninspiring as you probably imagined.
Proving yet again that less is definitely more, especially when it comes to seemingly endless sequences of CGI stunts, Revenge of the Fallen is everything most ill-conceived sequels are: bigger, considerably longer and much, much louder than its predecessor. Coincidentally, that's a pretty convenient starting point for tackling the flick's myriad of weaknesses.
Adding to the overall feeling of madness is a poorly written script with no discernable heartbeat or concern for characterization. While the first installment of Transformers was a fairly likeable story about a guy and his first car, that just happens to be, well, alive, this story doesn't give its leading man Sam (Shia LeBeouf) much to do. In fact, I'd venture to say he looks pretty bored for most of the film's running time, even with a planet to save and Megan Fox sauntering around as the requisite eye candy.
Really, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is truly a movie only a fanboy could love, and with all its brainless excess, I'm sure there will be some disappointment with that particular contingency, too. After all, when Sam saved the planet last time around, there wasn't really a need for a sequel. Everything ended nice and tidy. But when a movie grosses $700 million worldwide, the temptation is always there to create one anyway, much to the detriment of the loyal moviegoer. Still, when done right, a second installment of an already successful movie can beat the odds. In my humble opinion, this summer's Night at the Musuem: Battle of the Smithsonian is a recent example of a sequel done right.
But with little in the way of an actual story in Revenge of the Fallen, and trust me, fleshing out the plot is ultimately an exercise in futility, director Michael Bay, (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor), who is often skewered by critics for a heavy-handed, over-the-top approach, was simply left the challenge of outdoing himself.
And Bay does that in spades here. With incomprehensible action scenes haphazardly strung together, tuning in is exhausting rather than exhilarating. Basically, all that special effects magic is simply wasted because it adds nothing to the story's bottom line. When the audience never fully understands what's happening (or why), no amount of grandiose explosions, giant shards of metal flying in every direction or gritty Man VS. Machine combat will suffice. Instead, the filmmakers might have considered setting aside a few of those CGI dollars for a great screenplay instead. Now that could've made the Transformers sequel worth watching. …
When the over-the-top action hysterics finally takes a backseat, civilian life isn't much more interesting. In what feels like a half-hearted plot that wasn't fully thought through, Sam is giving regular life a shot by enrolling in Princeton. But as soon as he finds a mysterious metallic rock in his bedroom as he's packing, a move that feels a little too Indiana Jones from the start, it doesn't take long to realize that Sam won't be attending many classes.
Ditching the books, Sam and Mikaela (Fox) travel hand in hand, (with Mikaela adding little more than her pouty expressions to the cause) in search of an extraterrestrial energy source that morphs from a hunk of metal to an alien key to a pile of dust and eventually, some sort of mental materialization in Sam's head. Or at least that's what I took away from watching. When it comes to what exactly the filmmakers had in mind when making this mess of a movie, it's ultimately anyone's guess. But certainly there are better ways to spend two and a half hours on a summer day, right? And you probably won't even need earplugs.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking plus a scene where Sam's mom accidentally uses marijuana and starts acting a little crazy while visiting Sam at Princeton.
- Language/Profanity: A steady stream of profanity, including instances where the Lord's name is taken in vain, thoughout. While the "f" word is never used, alternate versions are used constantly.
- Sex/Nudity: Since Megan Fox's character, Mikaela, is little more than eye candy and Sam's girlfriend, they make the most of it by having her dressed in very short denim shorts and skimpy dresses. She also straddles a motorcycle she's working on suggestively. Sam is also given a lap dance by a glamorous Decepticon. They are engaging in a kiss when Mikaela walks in (but the Decepticon's tongue extends and wraps around Sam's neck as soon as she walks out). Agent Simmons strips down to his skivvies, his backside shown with underwear with just a bit more coverage than a thong. Plus, there's an ongoing joke about Sam's two dogs humping each other, which is shown on several occasions. A robot also does the same thing to Mikaela's leg.
- Violence: While all bloodless and very cartoonish, the movie is basically one very long, very loud fighting sequence edited together. Buildings are destroyed, robots are killed and threats are made to wipe out the earth.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.