I wasn't exactly counting the days until Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened, because I wasn't all that excited about the movie. The first one was okay, but I think Michael Bay has already directed his best movies, and everything he keeps putting out is, well, not too terribly awesome. At the same time, and just like I thought about Superman Returns back in 2006, I knew I would end up watching this film at some point, so I'd rather see it in theaters than at home. If the only redeeming feature of the movie was going to be the visuals, I might as well maximize those by seeing the film on the big screen. Sound reasoning, right? But it doesn't really matter whether that was logical or some delusional argument to get me out of the house and into the movie theater, because the bottom line is that, no matter how low your standards, Transformers 2 is an incredible piece of garbage that should have never been made.
After reading all the horrendous reviews, I thought that I couldn't find the movie that terrible because I was ready for the absolute worst --and yet, the film was atrocious on so many levels I think my head is still spinning, my brain still numb. Why was this such a bad movie, at least in my very subjective opinion?
To begin with, TROTF is two and a half hours long. Two and a half hours! If the movie was interesting, that would be okay. Watchmen was that long, and it never seemed to drag on and on and on. However, other than lots and lots (and lots) of running away from one threat just to fall under the next, there really is nothing else going on in the movie, so two and a half hours of watching explosions and people running like headless chickens gets awfully old really fast. Had the movie lasted, say, an hour and a half, it would have been much more tolerable.
The script (if they actually had one they were working from) and the story were paper-thin, and it was just an excuse for robots to make humans run from one place to the next. I tried to keep an open mind for the first forty-five minutes or so, but after the blond girl was taken out of the equation, whatever interest I had had so far went down the drain.
Let's talk about the characters now, since I mentioned both humans and robots. In the first movie, the humans turned out to be way more interesting than the robots, and they had funny lines and were somewhat humorous, especially John Turturro. This time around, the human characters are unremarkable, and John Turturro has become a bad caricature of what he was in the first movie. The other supporting characters are there just to be annoying (especially Sam's mother, whom I swear I could have shot), or to run aimlessly around. Megan Fox's Mikaela does a lot of this too, and Mr. Bay shot a lot of her running around in slow motion, so call this a lame pun if you will, but I couldn't help but thinking "Baywatch". And you know the saddest thing? She was the only good thing in the movie, and by good I mean hot. Actually, there was also another girl (the aforementioned blond, played by Isabel Lucas) who turned out to be an interesting character, but I won't say anything else so as not to spoil anything. And finally, Shia LaBeouf wasn't as funny or witty or likeable as he was in the first movie. I found myself hoping somebody would kill him so the movie would be over. Sad, isn't it?
Regarding the robots, I would say that I felt cheated, but that would imply I had some kind of expectation, which is not entirely true. I had heard there were plenty of new Transformers, and that they had different colors now to be more recognizable and so that the audience could tell them apart when they're fighting and all you can see, thanks to Bay-o-Vision, is a blur of nuts and bolts and metal pieces. Well, this turned out to be unnecessary, because I swear that Optimus Prime does pretty much all the fighting with the Decepticons, and every single one of the bad guys looks exactly the same. (Except for Ravage, who looks really cool, I must admit, but he is a freaking panther, so it'd be hard to make him look like everyone else.) At some point, Megatron, Starscream and somebody else were gathered talking, and I couldn't figure out who was who. And this last sentence is key, because I couldn't figure out who the Autobots were either. Do they say their names in the movie? I heard "Ironhide" three or four times, and I thought I heard "Arcee" once. Other than that (and Bumblebee, of course), I have no idea who everyone else was. Did they have names? Did they even fight? Because I swear they all looked the same to me and were pretty much interchangeable. Except for the two incredibly annoying "twins" that looked like a cross between robot and gargoyle and, if I'm not mistaken, were portrayed as a borderline insulting caricature of African Americans. Those two I could tell apart, but I kind of wish I hadn't. Plus, the plate on one of them said "Skids", but that monstrosity has nothing to do with the Skids I remember from the comic book. Oh, and halfway through the movie, the robotic equivalent of Davy Jones shows up. He is very easy to recognize, but the movie had already fallen apart for me, and it was hard to care. Also, and in my defense, this character was really quite stupid and corny (something the design of the creature is to be blamed for), not to mention that all the exposition he delivered was extremely hard to swallow.
The special effects were... Well, I'm not sure, because I could only see blurry mechanical parts moving everywhere and explosions lacerating my corneas. But at least the music was... Hold on, I'm not sure either, because all I could hear was explosions, strange sound effects, and abominably bad dialogue. ("Revenge is mine!" Are you for real?)
As for Michael Bay's direction, this is something I always find tricky, because I guess I'm not really sure how much of an impact the director has on the script and the actors' skills and performance, but in this particular case I don't think there was too much directorial effort needed. Based on what I saw, it feels like Mr. Bay just asked his actors to run and yell and look scared, and everything else would be taken care of in post-production. If some of the actors hadn't emoted every now and then, I would have thought George Lucas had directed this film. But jokes aside, it did feel like a bunch of nothing just put together and shaken (not stirred --or stirring), and then wherever the pieces fell, that's where they stayed.
The funny thing is that, like a critic said somewhere, TROTF is criticproof, and no matter what everyone says, everyone will still go see this movie. The Rave was packed last night, and I bet that's exactly what happened all across the country. It looks like it will probably be the top-grossing movie of the summer, if not the year, and this saddens me because I have seen so many movies that are unquestionably better. In the last two months, I have loved seven out of the nine movies I have seen, each one of those seven vastly superior to this crap, and I am sure I will enjoy a lot of other movies before the summer is over. To know that TROTF will be more successful than those is a distressing thought, and I can always hope to be wrong, but what if I'm not? I don't think I could stand a third installment in the series. I am afraid of what that could do to my brain, I really am.