For me, writing this review is sort of like having to do spring cleaning: You look around at all of the ground you have to cover, feel overwhelmed at it all and think to yourself that perhaps it’s best to just say “fuck it” and give up before you even started. I honestly have no idea how to start. I feel like I have been tasked with having to shave a wooly mammoth: Where do I begin? How do I go about it? What do I do?
Basically every bit of bad press you’ve read about this movie is true. All of it. The excessive running time (which is hardly of note to me since it’s only 6 minutes longer than the first film), the beyond non-sensical plot, the over-abundance of “comic” relief characters, the excessive loudness and, yes, the racist caricatures. If you thought Jazz from Transformers was bad, you haven’t seen Skids and Mudflap.
True story: Given the three act structure of most films, I could see that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was winding down, from a plot standpoint. So I looked at my watch and was shocked to see that there was a whole hour left. No joke.
But I digress….
Odds are, if you like reading reviews of bad movies as much as I do, you’ve already heard all the bad stuff about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Essentially, I have nothing new to tell you about the film. I could literally go scene-by-scene and tell you why it’s stupid — it’s honestly that bad. But I’ll spare you all of that and try to give a different perspective than one you’ve heard before.
When Pirates of the Caribbean came out, people loved it. It felt original and fresh, but I feel that a large part of that came from the fact that we hadn’t seen a pirate film given a multi-million dollar budget, a shiny coat and an epic feeling of fun in many years. The last time someone made a wide release film in the pirate genre (assuming that it exists) was Cutthroat Island — one of the biggest flops of all time — back in 1995.
So what was the last, live-action giant robot film you had seen before Transformers came along? Robot Jox? That movie was garbage, and again, it was made back in 1990. Does Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow count? I guess you could argue that it does, but the whole thing was more cartoon than live-action, and the robots were only featured in the first half hour. Regardless, neither film is thought of fondly and both films didn’t do well at the box office.
Despite the lack of recent giant robot films, you have to admit that people love giant robots and they love seeing them pummel each other. However, no one has taken that (admittedly flimsy) concept and given it a huge budget, a shiny coat and an epically fun feel. Just because the frat-boy man-child Michael Bay squats one out doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Granted, it feels fresh and new and exciting, but if you’re the first out of the gate once everything has been declared dead, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically worthy of praise.
You know, to be honest, I don’t really know where I’m going with this other than to say I can understand why people want to like this movie. I know why the Transformers fanboys — of which I used to be one — defend this film (of which I would never do). You want your white horse to deliver and you’re willing to forgive its imperfections to justify its existence and its revenue stream. You want it to succeed. You want this film with the name “Transformers” on it to make money, thereby getting as many films as possible. I understand. But it’s not a good film. Even by junk food, action cinema standards, it’s pretty lousy. And above all, it’s not Transformers.
Picture the Harry Potter films. The books are beloved the world over. Now imagine if, when it came to adapting them to film, someone decided to change it up a bit and make the film more palatable to a general audience. So Ron Weasley is changed to be a hip, slang-talkin’ black kid from the streets. And Hermoine is mute, except she uses sound bites from a radio to broadcast her thoughts to people. Also, the film would primarily focus on the tertiary characters instead of the original main cast. Would the Harry Potter fan base accept that as being Harry Potter? No. So why should the Transformers fan base accept these film adaptations? Simply because they exist? Not good enough, says I.
I know the filmmakers said they took liberties with the property (especially the designs) because they wanted them to be more realistic. Yes, because when you’re making a film about giant transforming robots from outer space, you should really concern yourself with realism.
But I digress….
People have told me that I’ve been too hard on these films; that I’m too judgmental with too high of standards. After all, they’re geared towards kids, right? They’re toyetic — they push merchandise.
Look, just because a film is aimed at a younger audience doesn’t mean the filmmakers should shoot for the lowest common denominator and not give a crap about the end product. Besides, can you name a kids film that is 150 minutes long and contains two separate scenes of dogs humping each other, a character eating pot brownies, upskirt panty shots of a woman trying to dry hump someone, a robot that has a penis that doubles as a gun, graphic shots of another robot’s giant testicles (still trying to figure that one out), a close-up of John Turturro’s ass and garbage while wearing a thong, a robot dry-humping a woman’s leg (AND SHE DOESN’T MIND IT!?) and characters that say, “pussy,” “bitch-ass” and “fuck?”
This film is PG-13. A lot of shit can still get through in between that PG and R, my friends.
In the end, this film is just as jumbled, chaotic, under-plotted, loud, annoying and dumb as the first film, if not more so. So if you liked the first film, then I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you might like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The bad news is that you might have a learning disability.
I would call this film bullshit, but that’s an insult to fertilizer.