By Spencer Vickers
I am 80% convinced that Michael Bay did not give a sweet sh*t about the first hour and twenty minutes of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. What occupies that part of the highly anticipated summer flick is about as dumbed down as you would expect from a film that is brought to you by a toy company (I would like to point out that my previous comment was by no means meant as an attack on Hasbro, for without them my childhood would have been severely depressing). At points the film even borders on offensive (and not the good kind of offensive).
Yes. Michael Bay is the filmmaking equivalent of Benjamin Button; with every film he makes, he becomes more and more like a child waiting for explosions.
Speaking of children, there were about seven kids behind me at the giganto-sized IMAX screening I attended. Their review of the movie? In their exact words, “That was the best movie EVER!”
That’s probably all you need to know. I’m an old, bitter bastard, and now the young’uns have a fun summer movie to drag their parents too. And yes, like myself, maybe the parents will get into the last 40 minutes of the movie, where Bay does his usual “blowing stuff up” routine in awesome fashion. His movies aren’t the greatest things ever, but the movies are an afterthought to spectacle in the world of Bay.
Lemme get the bad parts out of the way first, much like the movie itself. Whenever the script calls for storytelling, the film fails fantastically. I have honestly not seen a movie hinge on so much expository dialogue ever before; quite literally every bit of plot is told through a military general or one of the Transformers. There are scenes that explain the movie, and without few key bits of dialogue, the film would have literally stalled in its place. That’s how dependent the film was on spoon feeding its plot to both its audience and its characters.
The other bits of dialogue are reserved for some of the worst comedy I’ve seen in a movie since the time I pretended I was watching What Happens in Vegas (I didn’t really want to watch the movie, but I wanted to talk negatively about it. Who hasn’t done that?). This goes with the “Bay Button” theory, where even his comic sensibilities are getting immature to the point of jokes about dudes being awkward around hot women and mother figures eating weed brownies that seem to immediately take effect (the Autobots might have been realistically engineered by the folks over at ILM, but everyone with any college schooling under their belt knows that weed brownies don’t kick in with just a jump cut). What ever happened to giving Sean Connery mid-action zingers such as, “Well, it’s certainly more enjoyable than my average day… reading philosophy, avoiding gang rape in the washrooms… though, it’s less of a problem these days. Maybe I’m losing my sex appeal”? That one line from The Rock is funnier than the sum of every alleged joke in Revenge of the Fallen, and looking at the IMDB quote page, I’m reminded of about 15 more quotes that are awesomely quotable even thirteen years after the films original release.
Instead of zingers between Nic Cage and Sean Connery, this film thinks that inner-city colloquialisms spoken by robots are hilarious. This leads to a genuinely offensive set of characters, most notably the twins, who I refer to as “Mudflap” and “The Other Offensive One,” as I didn’t catch both of their names [Editor’s Note: It’s “Skids” but we like the one from Spencer’s memory]. They have decidedly goofier faces than most of the autobots, and giant gold and white bucked teeth. Already, I noticed a bit of a racist character going on, before they even spoke. They then spoken in a very stereotypical inner city accent, called people punk asses, pussies, and finally talked about how they couldn’t read. I’m beginning to think Michael Bay directs the comment section of every post we have linked on Break.com.
As a current college student, I was upset by Bay’s portrayal of the college experience, notably how hot women are and how they operate around average looking/mildly nerdy guys (they jump them in a seductive fashion. In the film’s defense, this is explained later, but I was plenty mad when it first was happening). The sequences of college students running for their lives made me notice a very important aspect of the Michael Bay universe: There are only super models and mothers. Think about it. Find an unattractive woman in any of Bay’s movies. Go ahead, try; I’ll wait. They’re usually the mother character if they are even there. That’s alright though, because usually there aren’t that many women in his movies. But the extras in the college campus sequences were just silly. They were all models. Not a single mildly attractive yet unconfident and awkward engineering major with cute glasses that I might possibly have a chance with after two cups of jungle juice to be seen. What a shame. This version of college is Asher Roth’s wet dream. I’ll check the credits to see if he was a creative consultant.
This is all standard negative criticism for Bay movies, however. The question you’re all wondering has yet to be fully addressed: Are the action scenes good? My answer is that yeah, they’re pretty sweet. Bay manages to drop the pretense that he was trying to make a film with plot, and just let giant robots fight near or on pyramids. A special note should be made of their IMAX cinematography. The scale of the Transformers and the picture quality really do add a lot of enjoyment to some scenes, notably the ones where Devastator is involved. The acting even manages to improve a bit from bad comic acting to legitimate moments of care and concern for the characters. There’s not much else to say about this; the action is cool, but trying to describe why it’s cool is kind of a futile pursuit.
Reading this over, I notice a parallel between Revenge of the Fallen and my review for the movie. Basically, I spent a majority of this review babbling about things most people who are going to see a movie about giant robots could not care less about, then spent a little bit of time at the end confirming what is obvious about the film’s level of action. The only problem is that the good action is too little, and too late. Revenge is boring and dumb for too long, until it wises up and becomes a big ol’ action set piece. Kids will dig it, adults might like the action, and almost everyone with common decency and tolerance of all ethnicities will be offended by the incredible racism Bay pulls off with only two robots and a sh*tload of stereotypes. Look for “Bay Button’s” next movie to be 70 or less minutes, dividing its time between poop jokes and giant explosions, and not caring once about plot. On the bright side, Bay’s director persona will become instantly more likeable, as a baby shouting orders through a megaphone to blow stuff up is much more adorable than a douchey middle aged man doing so.