The Autobots (good Transformers) have been busy in the two years that have passed since their battle with the Decepticons (bad Transformers). Since defeating the bad-bots’ leader, Megatron, the good-bots have formed an alliance with the military, creating NEST, an operation to seek out any remaining Decepticons.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen might just be the most expensive slapstick comedy ever made.
For a film that’s two and a half hours long, it wastes no time on easing you in gently. Within the first five minutes you’re catapulted into the middle of a Shanghai stakeout, which swiftly develops into explosions, robot chases, ice cream vans and Decepticons the size of 20 storey buildings being pursued by a whole host of new Autobots.
Millions of pounds’ worth of damage and a few squished civilians later, the Autobots defeat these straggler Decepticons (who had until that point been living incognito as warehouse machinery) but not before they are given the ominous message, ‘The Fallen will rise again.’ Maybe talk first shoot later next time.
Annoyingly an important government type expresses the president’s annoyance at the mess NEST made of Shanghai and threatens to ship the good-bots off for the good of everyone. The leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, then goes to human Sam Witwicky for help (Shia LaBeouf, increasingly more eyes than man), asking him to be their ambassador on the grounds that he was there the first time around.
The first hour of Revenge is brilliant mainly because there’s some actual plot mixed in with the action. Sam just wants to live a normal life, start university, and attempt a long distance relationship with his absurdly hot girlfriend, Megan Fox (here playing Mikaela Banes). Unfortunately, he’s started smearing symbols over every available surface that turn out to be the key to the Decepticons’ survival. Then he’s put on the world’s most wanted list when the Decepticons come over all Igor and demand his brain for their master. And he drives a Transformer. Normalcy is a bit of a long shot.
Introduced with the slow motion soft porn shot that now seems to be a contractual obligation, the camera simply adores Fox. It frequently appears to be straining to get around all the other poxy none-Fox folk in order to peer lustily at her from as many angles as possible. It’s the technological equivalent of a curtain twitcher. The pervert.
This sequel is, if possible, even more ridiculous than its predecessor. You know this right from the start when a sliver of the All Spark – the cube that creates Decepticons from electronic objects and could quite possibly end life on earth as we know it – gets stuck on Sam’s shirt. Soon the waffle iron launches an unprovoked attack and the toaster goes ballistic. As Sam’s parents prove – being purely on hand for comedic value – the humour and general silliness in this film are its real selling points. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen might just be the most expensive slapstick comedy ever made.
Director Michael Bay has striven to ensure that this is not just a film about robots, it has it all: stoned mums, conveniently placed conspiracy nuts, pyramids, random teleportation and, of course, interplanetary travel. Bay essentially directs with the same ethos as a Marks and Spencer’s advert. He’s the kind of film-maker who can’t have a character simply taking a walk to the shop; they have to shoot down a helicopter and sink a battleship on the way there.
The CGI has definitely come along, ensuring that the Transformers have more expressions than happy face/frowny face. Crowd-pleaser Bumblebee reprises his role as Sam’s car and Optimus Prime gets to try out some new action figure phrases in his personality banks. Still, as incredible as the advances in CGI prove to be, there is only so much robot-on-robot action you can take before you start assessing how numb your bum cheeks are getting. The action-heavy finale is so long-winded, should you ever witness some sort of explosion in real life, you’ll probably find it tediously uninspiring.
There’s no point wasting time attempting to figure out the plot – it’s only there as an excuse to blow things up after all. By the time you reach the second hour, feel free to give up trying to understand who’s after what and what for. The bad-bots become increasingly hard to tell apart. Bits of plot get left by the wayside. The robotic equivalent of Treebeard from Lord of the Rings gets about an hour of screen time for some unfathomable reason – you suspect Revenge is really just about what Bay thinks is cool.
But what do you expect from a film about boys and their toys? Revenge is overblown, ridiculous and in dire need of a decent editor. Go and enjoy it for what it is – the silliest two and half hours you’ll spend in the cinema for a long time and the perfect popcorn movie.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (12A) is on general release now.