My attempts to come up with one catchy word to describe Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ended in frustration. This loud, hyperkinetic sequel to the 2007 summer blockbuster is so over-the-top, such an assault on the senses that simply plucking a word from my Canadian Oxford Dictionary was clearly not going to be sufficient to describe the aural and optical onslaught brought on by the director of Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is such a singular vision, such an exercise in excessive filmmaking that I was forced to step outside the dictionary to find the right descriptor. The word? “Hullabayloo.” Definition? 150 minutes of bombastic retina roasting movie making from the mind of Michael Bay.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen takes place two years after the first film, with Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) leaving home and going to college at an Ivy League school. Once there Sam realizes he has information about the origins of the Transformers; info the evil Decepticons desperately want and the Autobots must stop them from retrieving. To save the world, and perhaps even the universe, Sam and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) once again join forces with the Autobots and do battle against their sworn enemies, the Decepticons.
Bay isn’t known for his restraint, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his directing style on Transformers: ROTF is excessive. Apparently no one has ever explained the idea that less is more to Mr. Bay. This is a magnified version of the original, with extra helpings of everything that made the first one a hit. It’s longer than the original, there’s more gratuitous shots of Megan Fox (as one newspaper pointed out this week, take the “n” out of her name and you have Mega Fox), more humor, including a reprise of the radio gag from number one and more of Sam’s goofy parents, and way more of the Autobots and Decepticons.
Unfortunately there’s also more of the stuff we could have done without from the first movie.
Bay understands that Tranformers: ROTF isn’t about the actors, it’s about the robots, but once again more attention seems to have been paid to the animated characters than the real-life actors. The paper thin characters feel more like place holders for the action than real people. Whatever. I know fans don’t expect richly drawn characters, so if Megan Fox’s characterization involves simply looking hot and yelling “Sam!” in an ear pierce yelp, so be it. Maybe next time around (there’s already a threequel planned for release on July 4, 2012) though Bay could spend a few minutes of the time he normally spends thinking about how to blow things up and work on the characters just a bit.
Of course Transformers: ROTF earns a gold star for its special effects—the all important transformation scenes are, once again, a marvel of technical wizardry—but like the last film the robot action sequences, while exciting, are so frenetic that it’s sometimes hard to differentiate the good ‘bots from the bad ‘bots. The battle scenes, which should be the highlight of the film, are hard to follow, looking more like blurs of crunching metal than well shot and defined action scenes. That’s a problem.
Also a problem is the volume. Bring earplugs and the Advil. It’s loud. Like end of the world loud. The Who at Wembley Stadium loud. Come for the robots, stay for the headache.
Transformers: ROTF is the bigger, louder and slightly more obnoxious brother to the original, but should please fans of the franchise.