As Bad As You Thought?: Transformers Revenge of the Fallen
If there is one man fanboys around the world can put aside their differences and unite to destroy it’s….well there are quite a few who fit the bill but in this case I’m talking about Michael Bay. Bay is the kind of pioneering filmmkaer who says to himself: “I don’t need a script let’s make things that look all cool and junk”. He has made more than a few enemies of film audiences by pulling stuff like; producing terrible remakes of classic horror films and making the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into Adult Alien Turtles, but this week we’re looking at his most reviled career move. When it was announced that Michael Bay was going to be in charge of directing the Transformers’ first live action screen outing many were terrified, but it turned out the movie was tolerable, not perfect but not as bad as it could have been it was with this film, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that Bay destroyed all of the goodwill he had built with the first film by making a film that was so quintessential Bay that everyone from fans of the Robots in Disguise to the average filmgoer hated it. So without further ado here is this week’s edition of As Bad As You Thought? where we look at Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
We begin our movie with Optimus Prime monolouging about the human race and why does every bad movie need to open with a narration?!?! Seriously this is becoming a theme of this series if you need proof just click on any of the links I’ve just provided. Anyways back to the movie, as the robot drones on we see early humans brandishing spears and such, and a helpful caption at the bottom informs us that it is 17,000 BC and we can see we are somewhere in Africa, and these early humans are hunting a tiger like the kind of animal that lives in Asia. But that’s not important because Mr. Prime tells us this is how the Transformers originally encountered humans, and right on cue an army of Decepticons destroy the hunter-gatherers.
Flash forward to a city and the nice digital captions on the screen tell us it is; Shangai today at 22:14 HRS. (the sun is still clearly out for some reason despite it being after 10PM) the weather is mild and
partly cloudy, the latest sports scores are……Apparently a toxic spill has occurred and the area is being evacuated. A creepy rundown ice cream truck moves down the abandoned streets as an entire military strike force that Dr. Prime tells us is called Nest, it is an alliance of Autobots and humans trying to stop the Decepticons. This Nest team is loaded down with needless amounts of weapons and vehicles and Transformers so I guess they do not understand what discreet means. Naturally they engage the Deceptions and they do so with a barrage of missiles and helicopters, and bombs, and kitchen sinks. These poor soldiers don’t stand a chance I’m beginning to wonder why they’re even there I mean besides being an opening act for the Autbots, like a kid who makes a mess of the tree house his dad is building in his own way of “helping out”. Finally the Autobots get tired of laughing at the human soldiers getting their asses handed to them and transform to chase down the two Decepticons. The ice cream truck from earlier crashes and transforms into an irritating small robot (yes he’s only there for a millisecond and already establishes himself as irritating). Eventually they realize they need even more back up and call in Optimus who in a very low key introduction in the movie rolls out of a cargo jet in mid-air and transforms while falling and lands in the middle of the highway ready to kick some ass. A needless amount of guns and rockets and cars and planes and robots, wasn’t this supposed to be a covert mission? But really how secretive can you be when the giant robots who battled over Los Angeles in the first movie team up with a fighting force the size and resources of every NATO country combined? The tussle between the Transformers wipes out an overpass in a massive explosion and destroys much of Shangai, but the “punk ass” Decepticon is taken down, but not before warning that the “fallen shall rise”. Optimus blows him away while uttering “not today” (even the machines in a Michael Bay flick have stupid one liners). Sorry for omitting the names of the Transformers involved but they all just look like a mass of metal and gears and I can’t tell which one is which they’re pretty interchangeable.
After this we join our hero who is not a Transformer sadly enough, but is Sam Witwicky from the first movie, as his father is trying to hurry him out of the house and get him to college. And remember the idiot parents from the first flick well one of them is an obnoxiously unfunny comic relief character…well okay both of them are. The dad makes bad jokes while the mom goes into over the top hysterics about finding his baby shoes. From there we get a completely non-gratuitous non objectifying…..sorry I can’t I can’t keep this going, Megan Fox as Mikaela is leaning on a motorcycle in short-shorts in a way even Larry Flint would find degrading to women. She calls Sam to tell him he is breaking up with him, but apparently she’s joking and Sam can tell, I can’t because you see I am a person and because of that, require a person to show me some form of emotional expression when they are kidding around with me in order to properly gauge the situation. As the two idiotic character yammer on, Sam pulls out an old shirt and a piece of the cube from the first movie falls out of the pocket, it falls through the floor into the blender in the kitchen on the floor beneath him. Promptly all of his kitchen appliances transform into Decepticons who attack Sam to the glee of the audience. In order to stop the small robots Sam has to call in back-up from Bumblebee, who destroys most of their property stopping them. As emergency crews gather Sam slips Mikaela (she got their fast) the cube piece that is responsible for the events that just happened as his mother continues her hysterics in front of everyone, I’m starting to think she is suffering from a mental illness of some kind.
In order to thank Bumblebee for his service Sam is forced to break up with him, telling the poor Autobot that he can’t have a car as a freshman and they should go their separate ways and that they will both be happier for it…oh by the way his actual girlfriend who is so out of his league it’s ridiculous is stripping down into a tiny dress, no biggie. Apparently Bumblebee can no longer talk like he could at the end of the first movie for the scientific and plausible reason of…I guess some suit knew the kids who begged their parents to buy the action figures dug the talking through the radio bit. When Sam emerges from the garage he and Mikaela have a very inane conversation, and even his parents know she wants Sam to tell her he loves her….waitaminute they’ve been together for like two years now and he hasn’t said it yet, she does need to drop him. But, Sam absolutely refuses to say it on principle I guess, and even though he refuses to say it the camera spins around them to make the audience dizzy (with love I guess) as a romantic track from the alt-rock soundtrack plays and Bay puts on his best sepia filter to hammer home his (un)romantic moment. I guess in Michael Bay’s universe nothing is more romantic than a dorky guy telling his pin-up esque girlfriend “bitch, please I got stuff to do”….oh also in that universe stuff blows up at the drop of a hat. As we recover from the gushing geyser of emotion which was that scene we see that a RC Truck Decepticon is transmitting the cube sliver’s location to a massive Decepticon with wings orbiting the earth and how is he up there without anybody noticing, I’m sure NASA or the ESA or a weather satellite would have noticed the giant freaking robot hovering around the planet basically wringing his hands together going “mwaahahhaa!”
We return to the Nest group from earlier who are settling into their “secret” base. Remember the brief of incredibly annoying ice cream truck robot from the first battle, well there are two of them and we get a full on introduction to them now and oh man, I already know I’m going to hate them with a passion. It’s like Michael Bay saw Jar Jar Binks and went “Oh yeah Lucas, two can play at that game! Consider the stakes risen!” Except where Binks was vaguely racist in his characterization these guys are like a comedy act that plays at a Klan rally. The head of some National Security group (how does an American military force have jurisdiction to act in Shangai…oh wait right) he gets his meeting with Prime and his taken aback by the Autobot, one of the soldiers says, “if God made us in his image who made him?” which I think is Michael Bay trying to be deep and philosophical, it goes over as well you can imagine. National Security guy does what anybody would do when talking to a robot who is pretty much a giant weapon, and is pointing out that Optimus Prime and his crew are not living up to some treaty the Autobots signed (yeah I don’t know how legal a treaty like that would be either) and asks them to leave our planet, because with a planet crawling with Decepticons promising “the fallen will rise” who wants giant robots who have experience fighting those guys on our side right?
That day Sam and his parents arrive at Princeton University and his dad is complaining about the tuition, yeah dude your son’s going to one of the most prestigious schools around and apparently on some kind of scholarship (though I thought saving the world in the first movie would have given him an all expenses paid education) but let’s focus on the money, which if you’re having a hard time affording (which judging from his house he shouldn’t) why is he going there. He meets his mentally unbalanced and conspiracy theorist roommate Leo who clearly needs some meds. You see the conspiracy he believes is that the government is trying to cover up the fact that giant alien robots are waging a war across the globe, where could he get an idea you ask? Well probably from the fact that there was a massive battle in LA two years ago during the events of the first flick as well as countless battles that followed, or as Bay sees it; it’s just barely noticeable stuff the government can successfully hide. Anyway he accuses Sam of sucking on mass media’s “ball sack” which I’m sure does wonder for the massive action-figure demanding little kid crowd who sees these movies. Thankfully the uncomforatbleness of this scene passes with his mom barging in with a bag of pot, yes marijuana, remember kids movie. While his high his mother roams freely around the campus humiliating her son and acting like an embarrassment to society as a whole, I mean I’ve never smoked a joint in my life and even I know you don’t act like she does while high. Instead of being mellow and hungry she’s running around the campus like a maniac slurring her speech and tackling people, if I were Sam I would definitely check into getting emancipated from my parents by now. Back at the “top secret” base, the Decepticons break in and steal the big piece of cube that’s there.
Back at college Sam goes to a frat party and starts seeing the weird symbols like the one from the cube segment he found. While this is happening a gorgeous woman begins putting the moves on him, you see in reality when two girls like this girl and Megan Fox are pining after a guy like Sam it is them wanting something because he is loaded but in Michael Bay world it’s called Tuesday. The whole time this is going on, Mikaela is waiting by her computer to web chat with him, because it slipped his mind to tell her he wouldn’t be there to chat. During the party Bumblebee in car form comes crashing through and sweeps Sam and hot chick away even though Bumblebee is clearly not fond of her and sprays her with some kind of goop. Bee takes him to a cemetery in broad daylight where Optimus is waiting to talk to him, remember how the giant robots were supposed to be top secret. Optimus tells Sam about an upcoming war and trust and fate and the usual bit, which Sam naturally rejects and leaves.
On a ship at sea, the Decepticons dive down with the cube shard to the Mariana Trench and rebuild an algae encrusted Megatron. Good ole’ Megatron still pretty ticked at his defeat from the previous flick flies through the water and through the submarines and ships in his way and the very next scene he is landing on Saturn, that was one hell of a jump. Once on Saturn he meets with his right hand man Starscream (my childhood favorite). We also meet the Fallen who tells them to capture Sam because he has the code from the cube that will save the Decepticon hatchlings…wait….you know what, whatever helps you push the plot along Mr. Bay.
We rejoin Sam in class where Rainn Wilson plays his astronomy professor who is sexiness personified to the female students apparently (seriously one of the girls in the front row sexily thanks him when he drops his apple and it rolls to her). He obviously has a very high opinion of himself and it does not help that the girls in his class are acting in a way that it puts the girl who wrote her love for Indiana Jones on her eye lids to shame in Raiders of the Lost Ark (I wish that were the movie I were watching right now). Except whereas a college professor like Indy can fight Nazis and find lost treasure and look dashing in a fedora this guy just looks like the dorky paper salesman from Dunder Mifflin. Fortunately Sam he is oblivious to it all because he is freaking out (like mother like son) and desperately flipping through his book. He then runs to the front of the room proclaiming the theory of relativity is wrong, except you know it isn’t wrong and the universe is in fact exapanding and the furthest reaches there of are in fact going at the speed of light, but the screenwriters have to put something in their to make Sam look crazy smart even though apparently he is not.
Back at home the remote controlled truck Decepticon continues to stalk Mikaela who is understandably miffed at Sam, but is concerned about the fact that he is going insane and has been since the cube segment was discovered. As she talks to him one of the small Decepticons tries to steal the cube piece but is stopped by a mouse trap, a dog, and a blow torch. The small robot apparently named, Wheelie verbally berates and hits on Mikaela and is thrown into a box for his trouble and loads him up to fly out and help Sam.
Back in his dorm room Sam continues to go crazy by painting alien symbols all over his walls, even defacing his framed poster for the beloved Michael Bay masterpiece Bad Boys II, so you know this stuff is important to put on the walls if he’s going to that extreme. But he is interrupted from his batshit moment when the hot chick who Bumblebee threw up on begins seducing him and is revealed to be a robot built by the Decepticons. Naturally Mikaela walks in on him making out with her and before Sam can do anything he is being strangled to death, this leads to a very unexciting chase where Sam Mickaela and the annoying roommate Leo, run and hide and argue about relationship issues while the hot robot chick calmly walks after them in a way that would make Jason Voorhees proud.
The trio of idiots….er our heroes try to escape through vehicular means but the Decepticons catch them with a helicopter and drop them several feet (don’t worry not only do they survive, they suffer no injuries it would be a miracle but miracles are good things) and they find themselves face to face with Megatron who is trying to extract the alien technology Sam absorbed and he does so by having a small robot crawl around in Sam’s brain and poking and pinching his face and…yeah there’s no way to spin this and make it normal. As can be predicted Optimus Prime shows up in the nick of time (why can’t the hero ever show up a few moments earlier, mopre practical for less dramatic effect). Bumblebee and Optimus ride off with our crew into the woods….weren’t they just in the city? For the massive budget he had you would think Bay could at least keep the terrain things are taking place on straight, but he couldn’t get a bad ass fight scene out of that. A battle between the Autobots and Decepticons ensues and Optimus proceeds to beat the crap out of all of them, all the while the Decepticons are talking about how the boy could lead them to another power source (then why are they going after him to kill him if he can lead them to…nevermind) but being outnumbered and outgunned, Mr. Prime is killed by Megatron.
As the battle rages on Sam and Mikaela get away via Bee, and Megatron escapes with Starscream to the top of the Metlife (how does that roof support there weight?) building and they discuss showing themselves to the world (well standing on top of the Metlife building is a good start). They launch an all out offensive complete with a scene where they destroy a fleet of naval ships that is eerily reminiscent of the Michael Bay classic, Pearl Harbor. I have to admit after much too long of seeing Sam’s girl troubles it’s refreshing to finally see a montage of Decepticons destroying stuff. Eventually the Fallen takes to the air demanding Sam be turned in to him or he will destroy the world. Luckily the crew has found safety in an abandoned building in New Jersey. Leo the roommate is watching everything unfold from his mobile phone, which Sam destroys because much to Leo’s surprise they can track mobile phone, this annoying douche is the worst conspiracy theorist ever.
At the Nest station the toolbag National Security guy from earlier realizes he was wrong to dismiss the Autobots who would give humanity a fighting chance against the Decepticons….oh wait he accuses them of being responsible for the whole ordeal and puts out of commission the military force who with the Autobots have been fighting the Decepticons for the past couple of years.
Back in the wilds of New Jersey Sam and the annoying racist robots from earlier discover that the code he’s been seeing are instructions to a map or something, but luckily Leo somehow knows about Robowarrior who can tell everybody what it means. So they head off to New York to find this Robowarrior, because the key to finding him is in the deli and it’s John Tuturro, the annoying government agent from the first movie, only in this movie he is a breath of fresh air in comparison to some of the other characters that have been introduced. He takes them to a secret hidden room beneath butcher shop he is working in where he reveals that the symbols and the Transformers have been around for thousands of years, but they need a Decepticon to translate the symbols for them, luckily Mikaela remembers she has Wheelie in a box who unbeknownst to any of us has been there the entire time. Their sworn enemy helps them out by telling them they need to go to the Smithsonian, and in the very next scene literally seconds later, there they are the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Of course being in DC requires Tuturro to need to change clothes and Michael Bay thought that this would be the perfect time to give us a nice shot of the man’s thong clad ass, remind me to send him a thank you card.
The four of them break into the museum and taze a few guards along the way; they then use the cube segment to find this wise old Transformer , and it turns out he’s the SR-71 Blackbird in the middle of the floor. And once he transforms we learn that this wise old warrior robot is actually just a stereotypical angry old Scotsman who needlessly yells and stomps around for a bit, before knocking down the wall and wandering magically from the Smithsonian Air and Apace Museum in Washington DC to an air base which looks like it’s in the Midwest somewhere. I guess the back wall of the museum was a transporter and he walked through it, because I’ve been to the Smithsonian and where there at is not even remotely close to it. Back to the movie, Wheelie changes sides to become an Autobot because that gives him the chance to hump Megan Fox’s leg which she thinks is cute, I must warn you now if you think humping Megan Fox’s leg in reality will be greeted with the same reaction you are mistaken….unless you are a robot. Sam gets jealous for some reason (I would be weirded out personally) but hey she walked in on him about to engage in the Wild Thang with a Decepticon in his dorm, so where does he get the right to judge? The characters who we are supposed to be rooting for (I’m not sure why) argue for a while longer, I grow weary of them and have long since given up on figuring out what is going on and why I should care and have to refill my coffee in the hopes of making it through this crap, and the old Transformer magically transports them to Egypt. It’s a shame they did not have a fast jet like an SR-71 Blackbird which could fly them there by the end of the day and….oh right.
Upon teleporting to the desert, Bumblebee and the two comedy twins (why can’t Megatron blow them away?!) magically appear and Leo freaks out because he thinks he’s in Vegas because of you knkow the bright lights and cars and money and…..no actually there surrounded by rocks and dirt, was this an attempt to be a joke I wonder or just the fact that Michael Bay wanted the character to say something/anything? We then get a history lesson about how the ancestors of the Transformers built an energy machine that exploded suns and there were multiple Primes and the Fallen wanted to commit genocide and a magical key and I think the screenwriters just threw the some random nice sounding things into a blender and what came out became the script. I’m just amazed that Megan Fox’s pristine white pants are still pristine and white despite being surrounded by dirt and even falling ino said dirt. The movie plot continues along and our main characters are headed to Jordan (do not ask me why) and call up the former NEST members to meet them there. Oh and in Michael Bay’s world map Egypt and Jordan share a border on the Red Sea, I guess Israel was wiped out by the Decepticons and….forget it I’d rather just think Michael Bay knows nothing about geography.
They use the old “I’m From New York” strategy to get across the border into Jordan (I watched the damn movie and I have no idea what it has to do with anything) and once in Jordan they set up camp at the pyramids….which are apparently in Jordan now. And even in the romantic setting of the Jordan Pyramids Sam refuses to tell Makaela that he loves her, yes they are still harping on that. But there’s no time for love Dr. Jones because the next part of this mixed up clusterfrack of a plot takes us to Petra which is in fact in Jordan because….I’m gonna get a Tastykake, which I guess is a valid reason. In Petra they find a hidden room which is the Tomb of the Primes and they find the Matrix which turns to dust. About this time NEST parachutes in and we see a shot of them jumping out of the plane in the middle of the day but the plane flying by at sundown, and they brought Optimus’ corpse with them. NEST lands at the pyramids and Sam and his crew drive in from Petra and are shot at by Starscream and have to bail and make a run through the Valley of the Kings and at any moment I’m expecting to see Cardiff Castle pop up just because it would make as much sense as the rest of this movie. John Turrtoro and Leo go off to confront the Decepticons on foot and the ‘Cons merge into a single giant gorilla-like Decepticon. But the two twin Autbots who have earned the hatred and scorn of the audience every second they’re on screen are the ones who take it down. Meanwhile Sam and Mikaela are being hunted down by Megatron and his crew (I hope they get those dumb kids).
The military and the Autobots have it out with the Decepticons with Sam and Mikaela caught in the middle and Sam’s parents show up out of no where and so does Bumblebee (who actually has a cool fight scene). Somewhere along the lines Sam gets sent to Robot Heaven and comes back to tell Mikaela that he loves her and brings back Optimus Prime with his Matrix-thingy, who with the help of the elderly Scottish Transformeris ready to kick some ass with so many guns and pieces of armor that Rob Liefeld would find it excessive. Prime goes up to the top of the pyramid of either Jordan or Egypt I can’t keep track of it anymore, mainly because I don’t care. He fights Megatron and the Fallen and wins and the world is saved from the sun machine or something…..some other stuff happens but by this point I’d rather do something else and it’s over.
This movie was not only as bad as I thought but it was worse than I could imagine. The movie is called Transformers Revenge of the Fallen so I thought I could get some entertainment out of some awesome robot battles; instead this movie would more properly be named, Shia LeBouf Sees Alien Symbols, because that’s what it boiled down to. This would not be so big of a problem (okay maybe it still would be) if the movie made any sense at all; it starts off with him seeing alien symbols and then there’s a Matrix and pyramids and none of it makes any sense. I’ve always imagined that creating a story structure for a movie would be easy, come up with a likable protagonist give them a problem to face and have them solve it. This movie eschews that wisdom and seems to just throw a lot of random scenes together to see what happens, the characters aren’t likable in the least from Sam and Mikaela the main characters all the way down to the 270 comedy relief characters none of whom are funny in the least. The biggest problem this movie has is the lack of actual Transformers, we get a few minutes of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee and Megatron but they spend the vast majority of the movie’s run time dead or just not around. While a lot of the movies I cover on this weekly series can be enjoyed for it’s camp value or for some kind of entertainment value, this movie is completely devoid of anything enjoyable.